Mountain States

Colorado Democratic Senate Candidates Discuss Transition Away From Oil And Natural Gas

The Democratic Senate primary in Colorado heated up this week with two debates between former Gov. John Hickenlooper and former State House Speaker Andrew Romanoff.

Unfortunately, each candidate was only asked one question apiece both nights on energy. Hickenlooper, who supported the industry while governor, discussed a “fast” transition away from “carbon-based energy” like oil and natural gas production. And once again, Romanoff touted his support for a Green New Deal, which would ban fossil fuel production.

In the first debate Tuesday night on 9News, Hickenlooper said the transition would not be expensive, despite his party’s presidential nominee, Joe Biden, pledging to spend $5 trillion over the next 10 years.

“We have to remember, it’s not going to cost an arm and a leg, and it can go ‘fast.’ We gotta get to zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest, but I think we can get there by 2040, maybe 2045, but we’ve got to go as quickly as we can. And recognize that these innovations are going to create jobs. We’re going to create far jobs than we’re going to lose as we transition away from coal and carbon-based energy to wind, solar, and other forms of renewable energy.”

Romanoff then brought up Hickenlooper’s past support for oil and natural gas, asking why he opposes the Green New Deal:

“Why do you [Hickenlooper] continue to take money from the fossil fuel industry? Why did you sue communities that try to restrict fracking and protect their public health? Why did you drink the fracking fluid? And why on Earth, at this moment, when we face an existential threat, why would you oppose a bold ambitious plan like the Green New Deal and join Cory Gardner in opposition to that proposal?”

The second debate was held on Wednesday night on CBS4 with co-host the Colorado Sun, where Hickenlooper was asked about the time he drank fracking fluid as governor and was asked if he still supported fracking.

Hickenlooper completely dodged the question – never even mentioning oil and natural gas production – and instead pivoted to address climate change and a “need to get to a net zero carbon emissions program by 2050 at the absolute latest.”

Romanoff was then asked about his support for the Green New Deal and what that would mean for fossil fuel workers. He responded:

“Part of the Green New Deal, and this is key, includes support for the people you’re describing. I don’t want anyone to be treated as collateral damage. So, what we ought to do instead is ensure that the fossil fuel workers [have] the training and support and skills they need to take jobs in the clean energy economy.”

But last month, Romanoff raised this very same concern himself in a webinar with activist Bill McKibben where he questioned if the Green New Deal could provide the good-paying jobs that the oil and natural gas industry provides.

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