Hickenlooper’s “Fracking” Folly Hurts Everyone, Everywhere

Responding to underreported but fierce criticism over Gov. John Hickenlooper's comments before a United States Senate committee last week about his experience with drinking "fracking fluid," he and his various proxies have tried to claim that his remarks have been "misinterpreted"–by legitimate media outlets, and the armies of right-wing bloggers, "news" aggregators, and pro-energy industry commentators who have gleefully repeated what he said as evidence that all critics of the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing are off-base.

In order to claim he has been misinterpreted, it has been necessary for Hickenlooper to concede something critical: that the "frack fluid" he drank, Halliburton's CleanStim, is not actually used commercially. Hickenlooper conceded in his nervous campaign-list email after his comments were publicized, "[t]his is not to imply that anyone would drink the frack fluid being used today." The problem, of course, is that is exactly what he implied–not just in Washington, DC last week, but every other time he has boasted proudly of having drank "fracking fluid." Hickenlooper never publicly admitted that he wasn't drinking the fluid which is actually being pumped into the ground in Colorado, until this latest episode exposed the claim to a nationwide audience. Hickenlooper has sometimes said that CleanStim is a "new" product, but that's not true either: it's been available for several years.

Since then, apart from Hickenlooper's email to campaign supporters, and a story in the small-market Durango Herald we discussed last week, here's what people around the country have been reading about Gov. Hickenlooper and "fracking." There's the Denver Post brief that ridiculously claimed "State Capitol veterans loved the story," inexplicably forgetting outraged conservationists who did not. And others like these: 

[O]ther states in the region sitting on shale reserves are forging merrily ahead. At a Senate hearing on February 12th John Hickenlooper, Colorado’s Democratic governor, staked out his position by announcing that he had once drunk a glass of fracking fluid.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper drank fracking fluid to prove a point to ecological groups who consistently express their reservations over how safe the fluid is.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) recently told a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources that he drank a glass of fracking fluid to demonstrate safety advances by the oil and gas industry.

"You can drink it. We did drink it around the table, almost ritual-like in a funny way. It was a demonstration. … they've invested millions of dollars in what is a benign fluid in every sense," said Hickenlooper to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, according to the Examiner. He said the fluid is made up of ingredients sourced from the food industry.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper told a Senate committee on Tuesday that he’s so comfortable with how his state regulates the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing that he once drank a glass of fracking fluid produced by energy company Halliburton.

Hickenlooper also told the committee that he once took a swig of fracking fluid to see how safe it was.

Yesterday morning, an ad in the Des Moines Register warned [new York] Gov. Cuomo not to OK fracking in New York. Hours later, the state announced that it will miss a key deadline and the fracking-review process will have to start over from Square One…A state agency is still reviewing fracking’s health impacts. Even though another state agency reviewed the impact two years ago. Even though the federal government and other states have deemed fracking safe. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said yesterday he even drank fracking fluid to show how safe he believed the process to be.

What you'll find, in these and dozens of other stories on Hickenlooper's comments, is the complete lack of the disclaimer "this is not to imply that anyone would drink the frack fluid being used today." As you can plainly see, Hickenlooper's claims are being used across the nation in the contentious debate over "fracking" to undermine critics of the practice as it exists today. Hickenlooper's claim to have "drank fracking fluid," even though followed by a belated and relatively unpublicized admission he was drinking an experimental product that isn't actually used, is being freely and in many cases purposefully misapplied to the debate over "fracking" chemicals that are in use. Chemicals that Hickenlooper admits, though practically no one knows it, no one would "want to drink."

Folks, if this situation does not absolutely outrage you, regardless of your position on the issue of "fracking," it's possible you have no conscience whatsoever. The fact that this reckless deception does not outrage Gov. Hickenlooper personally, and push him to spend at least as much energy correcting the record as he did promoting his original claim, is perhaps the best evidence of his culpability that can be had. This is such a clear breach of trust, such an egregious deception, laid bare by a chain of events a six-year-old would understand if they simply had the full facts, that we are stunned it is not a front-page scandal. The best explanation we can give you for why it isn't, at least locally, is the cozy press relations the Governor and his communications team enjoy.

It is not enough to simply report what is going on here, with the debate over this complex issue taking center stage across our state and nation. We are compelled to note for the record that a terrible wrong is being done.


19 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. La Libertad says:

    I got an idea for you anti-Frackenlooper folks, maybe you've already done this too.

    Why don't you bottle up something brown or caramel in color (or whatever frack fluid looks like), buy some beer bottles from a home brew shop, and then print up some beer labels associating Hickenlooper or his beers. You could start selling them to raise funds for your cause.

    Just an idea

    • Curmudgeon says:

      That'd be a poor seller, at least amongst anyone but the most ardent of Oil and Gas supplicants. Some people aren't willing to suck down whatever the industry sticks in their faces. Go figure.

  2. Albert J. Nock says:

    La Lib,


    Not a bad idea.

    Maybe a brewery should simply release a beer named FrackenLooper…

  3. Theo says:

    I could not agree more with this diary.

    The Governor's clownish-ness can be endearing, but it has gone unchecked, it has gotten him into trouble, and this is a terrible example.  He needs to recant and do so in a way that leaves no mystery about what the facts are.

    • The realist says:

      And, he needs to do it in the context of being the chief executive officer of a state whose future depends on clean air and clean water — not in the context of someone having fun jumping out of planes and joking about food-product fracking fluids that don't (really) exist in the world of oil and gas drilling.


      • BlueCat says:

        Exactly.  And one shouldn't have to be even slightly anti-Hick or anti-fracking to recognize this as pure unadulterated deception.  Until Hick's very recent and belated admission that the fluid he drank is not the fluid being used and therefore not relevant in any way to public concerns about fracking fluid safety, the clear intent of every other statement he's made touting his fracking fluid drinking has been to refute the idea that fracking fluid is unsafe. It's that simple.

        It requires no spin, no pro or anti attitudes of any kind to reach the only logically possible conclusion: Hick willfully decieved to make point.  Wait.  I take that back. There is one pro attitude required, one that is often missing on the right.  That would be a pro-fact attitude.

        Hick ought to be ashamed of himself.   Everyone, regardless of position on fracking, ought to be deeply disappointed in him for presenting the whole fracking fluid cocktail story to the public with such fundamental dishonesty and  deception by omission of the only fact that would make it in any way relevant.

        • wade norris says:

          the 'golly gee' earnestedness of Hickenlooper is being used purposely to deceive people by the Oil and Gas industry.

          Hickenlooper knowingly has put more of his constituents and their future children and grandchildren in dangerous harm.

          a shame

        • Gilpin Guy says:

          I still don't get the motiviation Turqoise Tabby.  He repeats a tall tale frequently and without any qualifiers and for what purpose?  It doesn't make sense to me.

          • BlueCat says:

            I suppose he must have decided that the economics demand he support fracking and was prepared to, as Wade says, use his "golly gee" persona to help dispel doubts about its safety. Guess he thought no one would notice or ask the pertinent questions. 

            I'd say that he has seriously depleted that particular asset. It isn't a widely known story yet but I think we can be sure that anti-fracking forces will now rush to point out his duplicity when other pols try to use  dear ol' goofy Hick's adventures with fracking fluid to back up their "nothing to see here" claims of safety.

            • Gray in Mountains says:

              I keep thinking of Hick's rather wise statement awhile back that "we need to agree on the facts before making policy". He doesn't seem to be working on that, at least not in a meaningful fashion

          • Duke Cox says:

             He repeats a tall tale frequently and without any qualifiers and for what purpose?

            See…Republican presidential primary. Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Herman Cain, et al.

            All modern Republicans do it.

  4. MADCO says:

    In addition to being dumb, and possibly dangerous, it is pointless.


    As a long time reader of CoPols, I know there is no oil and gas extraction industry in Colorado.  There can't be:

    First, there was RItter's oil & gas rules that killed the industry.

    Then there was President Obama who somehow further also killed the industry that was already dead.


    So- without any O&G industry here, there can't be any need for fracking.

  5. Duke Cox says:

    I’m shocked…who would’ve thought?

  6. ArapaGOP says:

    He's not going to resign. I welcome him to the Republican Party if he wants to make the switch, and he would stay just as popular because his popularity is personal. His pro-business attitude is more at home with us anyway.

    Drive him out, Pols! We'll take him.

    • BlueCat says:

      As usual, what are you talking about, ArapG?   Thanks for delivering the completely unnecessary news flash about Hick not resigning. 

      As usual your blather doesn't address the subject under discussion: The fact (not opinion) that Hick repeatedly tried to give the the impression that his drinking fracking fluid demonstrated that the struff is safe and harmless even though he knew all along that what he was drinking was not the the fluid being used and that people have been concerned about.

      If you're trying to be a troll you're failing miserably. Your inanities are too lame to incite much of anything. Why do you even bother? You aren't stirring things up. You're just an increasingly stale joke.

    • ClubTwitty says:

      No you won't. You'll pick some other crazy right-wing nutter, Dan Maes anyone? 

      Hickenlooper may be factually challenged when it comes to his full throated support for the frackers, but he also supports civil union, a woman's choice, the DREAM Act, and more sane gun legislation (as we will undoubtedly soon see with his signature).  Considering that Ronald Reagan (the real historical figure not the made-up caracticture you all worship)  would be primaried if he came and ran for Governor in Colorado (raised taxes 11 times!  negotiated with our enemies and disarmed! amnesty!!!!)  the thought that you all would 'take' Hick is laughable.  I'm guessing that your guber nominee will be someone like Brophy or Renfroe.  I do hope only after another bruising Tea Party vs. Country Club battle though. 

      • MADCO says:

         Brophy or Renfroe



        Governor race:  Ken Buck, Gessler, Stapeton, 

        or someone else who was never worked undercover for the Kansas police, nor been indicted, nor had a DUI traffic stop with a gun in the car ignored.  If only there was amovie star form Austria who could move here.

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