One of the bigger stories in Colorado politics last week revolved around a radio ad recorded by Gov. John Hickenlooper on behalf of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association. This ad sparked controversy after environmental groups objected to its carefully-worded statement that Colorado has “not had one instance of groundwater contamination associated with drilling and hydraulic fracturing” since new drilling protections were passed several years ago. Environmentalists contend that this verbiage was designed to mislead about numerous documented instances of groundwater contamination related to oil and gas operations.
On Friday, a sort-of apology from Hickenlooper to these organizations, saying he should have consulted them before airing the ad, failed to acknowledge the underlying problem with Hickenlooper’s statement: the fact that it was grossly misleading about the ongoing hazards of oil and gas drilling in Colorado. Hickenlooper clarified Friday that he was only referring to “the actual fracking…the immediate frack,” but that “clarification” had the effect of underscoring the original misleading statement–which remains on the air to the best of our knowledge.
And then, over the weekend, we were forwarded this KUNC radio interview:
Can’t see the audio player? Click here.
Where, 1:07 into the interview, Gov. Hickenlooper says this about fracking fluids:
HICKENLOOPER: 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.
Presumably, Gov. Hickenlooper “took a swig” of Halliburton’s fracking fluid product called CleanStim, which we reported on last August–though in the AP report we read then, Halliburton’s CEO Dave Lesar pointedly did not drink the fracking fluid, handing it off to another executive instead. CleanStim, as Hickenlooper said like reading from a script, is indeed composed of chemicals “sourced from the food industry,” though many of those chemicals are still considered hazardous on CleanStim’s Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).
“CleanStim’s” biggest problem? According to the Houston Business Journal, it’s only a small fraction of all the “fracking” chemicals sold today. There’s no requirement in Colorado or anywhere else that “CleanStim” or another newer “food grade” fracking fluid actually be used, and we’ve been unable to find any sales figures to demonstrate how much “CleanStim” is actually being used in Colorado compared to, say, whatever the gaspatch worker in Durango showed up at the emergency room covered in a few years ago that almost killed his nurse.
And according to the MSDS, “food grade” can still very much mean hazardous.
So folks, unless Gov. Hickenlooper is able to prove that every well being drilled and hydraulically fractured in Colorado is using CleanStim or another new fracking fluid you can supposedly “take a swig of,” there’s only one way to back up his clear implication. He should choose a drilling site at random, go there, and take a big pull of whatever they’re actually using in that well!
Failing that or some other trust-restoring development, we may be forced to conclude soon that a Democratic governor is knowingly and wilfully misleading the people of Colorado.