Mountain States

Colorado’s Top Democrat & Top Republican Agree: National “Ban Fracking” Groups Are Losing

Vital for Colorado forumGov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, joins U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican in support of hydraulic fracturing at an event in downtown Denver.

Colorado’s Governor and newest U.S. Senator’s joint appearance in support of hydraulic fracturing at a breakfast event in downtown Denver this week marked bipartisan agreement on the issue from two of the state’s top elected officials. But the event also stressed the waning influence of “ban fracking” activists who are becoming increasingly desperate in their attempts to ban oil and gas development in the state.

Speaking at the event, Gov. John Hickenlooper, (D-Colo.), noted that efforts to ban hydraulic fracturing in the state will not find “significant” support in their campaign to place an issue before Colorado voters for the 2016 election cycle. As reported by the Durango Herald:

“There will be proposals, but I don’t think there will be something that will be funded to any significant extent, and therefore I don’t expect something to get on the ballot,” Hickenlooper said.

Food & Water Watch, a national “ban fracking” group, relaunched its long-running campaign for a statewide oil and gas development ban earlier this year. The rebooted campaign cited Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decisiondriven by politics, not the facts – to ban hydraulic fracturing in New York as the principal reason for Colorado to shut down one of its most important industries. However, the same day of the relaunch, a New York-style ban was overwhelmingly rejected by a special task force established by the governor to review the state’s oil and natural gas regulations.

At the May 27 panel with Gov. Hickenlooper, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) raised the importance of oil and gas development to Colorado’s overall economy. Gardner remarked to the crowd, with many members of the business community in attendance, on how the industry creates and supports jobs across economic sectors:

“This breakfast is designed to show it’s not just the jobs on the rigs and the pipelines that are at stake. It’s the restaurants and the gas stations,” Gardner said.

The breakfast was organized by Vital for Colorado, a coalition of civic and economic development leaders from across the state who came together to pledge their support to the oil and gas industry in reaction to the efforts of “ban-fracking” activists. The event attracted 300 attendees including prominent Republican and Democratic elected officials, business leaders and representatives’ of Colorado’s agricultural community.

Vital for Colorado placardThe event was sponsored by Vital for Colorado, a coalition of civic and business leaders in support of oil and gas development in the state.

The bipartisan support for hydraulic fracturing was a theme throughout the event with CBS 4 in Denver reporting that Hickenlooper and Gardner “made a rare joint appearance on Wednesday to address the future of oil and gas development in Colorado.” Hickenlooper, discussed the debate on hydraulic fracturing as not a Democrat or Republican issue, telling the crowd of his appearance at the event with GOP Sen. Cory Gardner to discuss oil and gas development:

“You’d be surprised how little we disagree on”

Despite the broad support for the industry, activists campaigning against oil and gas development were quick to criticize statements from Hickenlooper, further staking out their fringe political position on the issue. Sam Schabacker of Food & Water Watch singled out the governor with his criticism of the event, telling the press:

“Governor Hickenlooper’s blowing hot air to justify his continued endorsement of the fracking fiasco that is making Coloradans sick, driving down property values and threatening our air and water”

But earlier, Hickenlooper, a former geologist, when asked at the event about those who criticize his support of the oil and gas industry told the audience:

“I’m biased — in favor of the facts,” the governor said.

The answer was poignant considering Schabacker’s organization is on the fringe of the environmental movement and has a history of promoting misinformation and factually challenged attacks on the oil and gas industry. Given Food & Water Watch’s history, perhaps Schabacker is the one who is “blowing hot air.”

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