Enough: Gov. Hickenlooper Must Stop Misleading The Public

Recent events have obligated us to take a more editorial tone than usual. It's time to speak up.

The Durango Herald's Joe Hanel reports today, following up on this week's story from Washington of Gov. John Hickenlooper's testimony before a U.S. Senate committee in favor of local regulation of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" for oil and natural gas. Wherein, if you haven't been paying attention, Hickenlooper repeated his now-familiar line about having drunk fracking fluid without ill effects.

Gov. John Hickenlooper said media outlets took him out of context when he told a U.S. Senate committee this week that he drank hydraulic-fracturing fluid…

“We sat down with executives from Halliburton. They have a frack fluid that’s made out of food additives. You can drink it. We did drink it around the table, almost ritual-like, in a funny way,” Hickenlooper said.

He went on to say that Colorado wrote its rules to protect Halliburton’s intellectual property.

“If we were overly zealous in forcing them to disclose what they created, they wouldn’t bring it into our state,” Hickenlooper said.

The biggest problem, as we've noted every time Hickenlooper has publicly talked about drinking fracking fluid–they haven't brought what he drank "to our state" at all. Hickenlooper admitted yesterday, as he did way down below the fold in his email to campaign supporters this week, that nobody should be drinking the fluid which is actually being pumped into the ground in Colorado today.

Halliburton is not using the safe-to-drink frack fluid right now because it’s too expensive, he said Thursday. [Pols emphasis]

“I don’t think there’s any frack fluid right now that I’m aware of that people are using commercially that you want to drink,” Hickenlooper said.

Video from his testimony shows Hickenlooper did not mention that the safe frack fluid was not being used in Colorado because of cost.

No, he didn't. In fact, Hickenlooper gave no indication that the fluid he drank was not actually used in oil and gas production operations, in Colorado or anywhere else, other than claiming it is a new product–which it isn't. The "fracking" fluid in question, Halliburton's CleanStim, excluding the tests to develop it, might actually be drunk by willing politicians and Halliburton executives more than it is pumped into the ground.

Do you remember the last big "you can drink frack fluid" brouhaha for Hickenlooper? Remember what he said?

You can eat this–the CEO of Halliburton took a big swig of this thing. And not to be outdone, I took a swig of it myself.

Do you see any disclaimer in that statement that the fluid Hickenlooper drank is not actually used commercially? Do you see any admission, as he made above but for some reason only the Durango Herald has seen fit to cover, that "I don’t think there’s any frack fluid that people are using commercially that you would want to drink?"

Of course not. Because he didn't make that admission. And he didn't in front of the Senate Energy and Natural Resoucres Committee, either. And after these repeated incidents, we come to an inescapable conclusion:

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, one of the most popular governors in the state's history, is knowingly misleading the public about the safety of hydraulic fracturing. He is exploiting his personal popularity, party affiliation, and cozy press relations to get away with it.

And for the sake of everyone in Colorado America wrestling with the issue of oil and gas exploration, it has to stop.


19 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. BlueCat says:

    Your conclusion is the only one any reasonable person could draw. Hick is taking a page from the GOP Rovian/Luntzian handbook. Shame on him.

  2. ClubTwitty says:

    The GJ Oil and Gas lobby machine (also known as Sentinel columnists, like astroturfing energy PR shop EIS Solutions employee Josh Penry, and resident wingnut Rick Wagner) is in full on damage control mode.  Their task, to retro-spin the Gov's comments as reasonable and well-informed, and any and all who oppose industry hegemony as crazed leftists.  Meanwhile the state noted that 'at least' 84,000 gallons of (unknown but not Clean Stim) ffrack fluid was spewed by Petro Development Corp, a Denver-based firm with a long record of spills, mishaps, and sccrew ups;  but is unsure if any 'enforcement' action will be taken.  

  3. wade norris says:

    This was in 2009…



    hope Hickenlooper got paid well to sell that soul….

  4. Arvadonian1 says:

    The issue with fracking isn't just the chemicals in the fracking fluid…it is the earthquakes that may be caused by the wastewater produced by the fracking process. 


  5. ClubTwitty says:

    The idea that introducing unknown (to the public and most everyone else UNLESS there is a contamination incident then some limited number of medical professionals can learn what the chemicals are, as long as they swear to silence) chemicals into a shared environment is the same as McDonald's protecting their 'secret suace' is offensive and grossly misleading.  And yet that is just what the CDPHE director said as to why he supports not allowing the public ('P' in his Dept stands for public, or did–it might now mean Petroleum)  to know what is being injected, spewed, spilled and leaked into the public's environment.  


  6. NotInMyWaterPlease says:

    "Between 2005 and 2009, the oil and gas service companies used hydraulic fracturing products containing 29 chemicals that are known or possible human carcinogens, regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) for their risks to human health, or listed as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act."

    "Hydraulic fracturing companies used 2-butoxyethanol (2-BE) as a foaming
    agent or surfactant in 126 products. According to EPA scientists, 2-BE is
    easily absorbed and rapidly distributed in humans following inhalation,
    ingestion, or dermal exposure. Studies have shown that exposure to 2-BE
    can cause hemolysis (destruction of red blood cells) and damage to the
    spleen, liver, and bone marrow. The hydraulic fracturing companies
    injected 21.9 million gallons of products containing 2-BE between 2005 and


    • ParkHill says:

      Two points:

      (1) Benzene is a very cheap, very effective solvent that happens to be so carcinogenic that it is banned for industrial purposes. I guess injecting it into the environment is not an industrial purpose.

      (2) Chemists are quite good at analyzing a mixture of chemicals and determining which ones are being used and how much of each. The "secret sauce" defense is completely bogus. Clearly, the only reason for hiding the chemical composition is to avoid telling the public what they are using.

  7. ClubTwitty says:

    To elaborate on the 'secret sauce' is the samae as 'frack fluid' fallacy, consider how we might make the analogy work.  To be accurate, McDonalds would be allowed to put 'secret sauce' on your burger whether you wanted it or not, and wheteher it was bought at McDonalds or not.  McDonalds would not have to even disclose the ingredients of the 'secret sauce' unless and until someone was made sick by it, and then only to the several medical professionals treating them, and only after those professionals signed statements swearing they would not reveal the 'secret sauce' ingredients or recipe.  

    Since none of those things are true, the 'secret sauce' analogy is false.  Now that this has been pointed out, will the CDPHE director stop using this offensive and false analogy?  Time will tell.  

  8. Gilpin Guy says:

    The pertinent question for me is why is Hickenlooper pushing for state control of environmental regulations?  What's his angle?  How does it benefit the states to have regulations that are all over the map.  Since fracking fluid can seep across state lines that standardized federal regulations should be in order.

    • harrydoby says:

      It's the same gambit Republican's use:  if you don't like the rules someone else wants you to live by, yell "States Rights".  If you want to impose your beliefs on an unwilling populace, make it a federal rule.

    • Duke Cox says:

      The pertinent question for me is why is Hickenlooper pushing for state control of environmental regulations? What's his angle?

      The answer GG, is here, in Der Frakenloopers e-mail.

      We were drawing attention to the fact that Colorado has created the most comprehensive and stringent set of regulations around oil and gas production in the country.

      What he means to say is " We have the most cleverly designed and loophole ridden rules in the country". The problem, as Twitty points out, is the many "off ramps" (in lobbyistspeak) given to industry to shield them from responsibility and liability. Waivers, exceptions, exemptions, non-disclosure agreements, and on and on…. They only have to play nice if they WANT to. That's how they like it.

      It doesn't really matter all that much what the rules say if your pocket is full of "hall passes" and "get out of jail free" cards. The state wants to be the standard of the country when it comes to rules because the INDUSTRY wants it so. So Hick wants it so.

      You may remember the term, "Paris Hilton rules"…they look pretty good , but there isn't much substance. These rules are shot through with all sorts of "off-ramps" for Halliburton, et al.







      • Gilpin Guy says:

        Thanks Duke.  The Hilton Rules could also apply to Hickenlooper.

        "Looks popular on the outside but is a vacuous millionaire at heart.

        • Duke Cox says:

          I just grow weary of him continuing to use a "D" after his name. I voted for the guy knowing he wouldn't be great on O&G (and knowing the alternative), but this is ridiculous. The same guy(s) who wrote the rules when Owens was governor are doing it again, and it is Hicks' influence that makes it so.

          There was a time when only industry influences were allowed to work with the state on writing regulations. Ritter changed that, resulting in a chorus of howls from the O&G hounds that reverberates, yet today. The attorneys for COGA and the CPA are pretty smug again, nowadays. They know the people at the state agencies who might stand up to them are restrained by their boss.







  9. ClubTwitty says:

    #Fracktail Friday

    Its #Fracktail Friday over in the Twitterverse as folks discuss their favorite fracktail, like the 'fracktini' (earthquakened, not stirred) and the gin-and-toxic

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