Completely Fracked Up

(Time to lay off the frack fluid, Governor? Bumped into Thursday – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The barbs here and elsewhere must have stung Governor Hickenlooper.

He just sent out the following, presumably to thousands of people who supported his last campaign.  That was presumably the audience because the bottom of the message says it was "Paid for by Hickenlooper for Colorado." The message also has his trademark "Hickenlooper for Colorado" logo at the top.

The entire message is clipped below.  The most telling line is buried in parentheses about halfway through the message.  He says:

(This is not to imply that anyone would drink the frack fluid being used today).

If one day the Governor touts the fact that he actually drank the stuff – and the next he says what he drank is different from what is actually being used today – what exactly is the point of touting the drinking, again?​

The full text is as follows: 


Despite what you might have heard, I much prefer drinking beer to frack fluid.

For the uninitiated, "frack fluid" is the liquid product oil and gas developers use in deep underground drilling operations. It is mostly water, but includes other ingredients and chemicals that are designed to open up oil and gas deposits and be recovered in the drilling process.

Knowing what's in the fluid and making sure the ingredients are known to the public is what prompted us to pass the most rigorous and transparent frack fluid disclosure rule in the country about a year ago. We negotiated that rule with industry and the environmental community (including the Environmental Defense Fund).

Our goal has been to encourage industry to use ingredients that are safe for the environment. So when an industry executive came to my office over a year ago touting the safety of their product – a new form of frack fluid based on food additives – we put him to the test by asking whether it was safe to drink. He said yes. So I challenged him to take a sip. He did, and so did I.

I can't say it tasted good, but it was, as advertised, a completely safe product for human consumption. (This is not to imply that anyone would drink the frack fluid being used today).

As we move forward in developing energy, we ought to insist on the strictest and most effective environmental safeguards.

Although tasting frack fluid might seem newsworthy to some, it was not really the point of testimony we recently gave to the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in Washington, D.C. 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.

If you are interested in what went on there, please take a moment to click on this link (and go to 48:45) and let me know what you think.


John Hickenlooper

57 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

    "This is not to imply that anyone would drink the frack fluid being used today"

    But that's exactly what he has implied, each time he has said it.

    But thanks for setting the record straight to your fucking campaign list! How about, I don't know, THE PUBLIC?

    This is a very sad day.

    • cdsmithus says:

      You know, I've always assumed the accuracy of what I've heard from ColoradoPols about Hickenlooper and fracking issues… but this time, I took an hour or so and watched the actual video of the hearing.  I think I recall he mentioned drinking fracking fluid twice… but in NEITHER case did he imply at all that you can drink the fracking fluid being used today.

      He's making an argument for a middle of the road approach: companies have to disclose the composition of their fracking solutions to a review comittee that agrees to keep them secret, but they do not need to disclose to the public.  Where drinking frack fluid comes in is that apparently Halliburton is in the late stages of developing, but does NOT use yet, a fracking fluid that may be safe to drink, and Hickenlooper's claim is that if they had to openly disclose the exact contents to the public, they would instead choose not to use it in Colorado because the intellectual property is that valuable.  So by insisting on public disclosure, we get the more harmful stuff they use today.  So not only is he NOT claiming that you could drink any fracking fluid in use today, but his argument critically depends on the fact you can't.

      Now, I'm not insisting that Hickenlooper's argument is correct.  It could be completely wrong; I really don't know.  But no one who actually listened to that hearing and understood what was going on could have come away convinced that Hickenlooper meant to say you can drink the fracking fluids being used today.

      This isn't some admission that he begrudgingly gave to his campaign mailing list. It was his entire point all along.

      PS: Sorry I've been away from Colorado Pols for a while.  It all looks different!  Also, apparently someone else got my username in the new system and I had to change to a different one?  That sucks…

      • ClubTwitty says:

        Hick has been arguing that ony the state should be able to require the use (or not) of  certain frack practices/componds.  Not the feds and NOT local jurisdictions.  It is not disclosure that is forcing companies to use toxic crap, its their bottom line.  The state could require disclosure AND better frack chemicals.  If Halliburton won't provide it, someone else will.  

        The state needs to regulate (rather than the feds), the industry argument goes, becasue one size does not fit all; and the state has to regulate (rather than local jurisdictions), the industry argument goes, because they need certainty and one set of standards.  Does that sound contradictory talking-out-of-both-sides with forked-tongues?  Yeah, and that seems to be our Gov's position too.  That requirements (say for a frack recipe) can only happen at the state and the most local jurisdictions can do is try to enter into a cooperative agreement with a willing industry (through a non-required MOU).  



        • cdsmithus says:

          If that used to be his position, you'll be happy to know that it has changed.  He had an argument in this hearing with a Republican who was trying to get him to say that state regulation is good enough and federal regulation is unneeded.  He refused to say this, and he encouraged the federal government to look at what states are doing and then pass federal regulation with what works.

          What he *did* say was the standard biolerplates about the states being the laboratories of democracy, etc., etc.  Basically that it was right for states to go first; but Hickenlooper argued explicitly for federal regulation and rejected arguments otherwise, even if he is looking for a slower time frame than some probably prefer.

      • ArapaGOPArapaGOP says:

        Hush! You're interrupting the liberal hand wringing.

        I knew what the Governor meant, it's been clear to me that he was talking only about the experimental frack fluid he drank.

        • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

          I already told you, you ignorant twit…

          about the experimental frack fluid he drank.

          CleanStim is not experimental. It has been around for at least four years. It isn't used to frack wells…it is used to fool fools…fool.

  2. Theo says:

    I am trying to edit the post to put the quotes in helpful block quote format.  Any tips on how to do that would be helpful.  (Note: I have not had any fracking fluid, or beer).

  3. Gray in Mountains says:

    must have only gone to his large donors

  4. EccentricRepublicanEccentricRepublican says:

    Do we let them in on the joke, Johnnie Boy? Not yet.

  5. The realistThe realist says:

    His statement seems to lack logic, understanding, and even respect for those concerned about environmental damage caused by fracking and other oil/gas development activities.  What really is his point?!  If he thinks this is successful damage control, he needs better political advisors.


  6. Theo says:

    I've re-read it a few times and think I understand what he means.


    He's saying to all his campaign supporters that, while he tried the one kind of frack fluid a year ago, he doesn't want any of them to think, you know, that he's sick.  Because the frack fluid he drank a year ago is not at all the same as the frack fluid that is used today — you know, the one to which his constituents may be exposed — which he wouldn't drink.  Oh, and it doesn't look like he recommends that his campaign supporters drink the stuff they use now.  Because it might well be hazardous.  Or something.

    • BlueCat says:

      Don't see another way to read it.  And what do we care about how harmless fracking fluid that isn't being used today is or isn't?  Isn't what is being used today what's relevant? Sounds like Hick has some more 'splainin' to do. 

      Besides, here in the parched west especially but also in the world in general,  the wholesomeness (or not) of fracking fluid isn't the only issue.  It's a process that squanders huge quantities of  water without which life itself isn't possible and for which no alternative exists in pursuit of an energy source for which all kinds of alternatives exist.  Aren't we draining our aquifers fast enough without fricking fracking?

  7. I also would rather drink beer than fracking fluid of any kind.  Of course, I think it is also an environmental disaster when groundwater or rivers are polluted by large quantities of beer.  Dear Frackenlooper, here is a free clue for you: if it is not water, it does not belong in our water.

  8. wade norris says:

    from my facebook page: Governor Frackenlooper….

    ready the primary….

  9. gaf says:

    A governor who would say this:

    "You can drink it. We did drink it around the table, almost rituallike, in a funny way," he told the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. "It was a demonstration. … they've invested millions of dollars in what is a benign fluid in every sense."

    to lead a Congressional committee to believe fracking fluid is "benign," when he knows the stuff he drank was not the same "fracking fluid" actually used in his state today, is a tool…or worse. Total fail.



    • cdsmithus says:

      You managed to cut off the antecedent to "it".  "It" nevere referred to fracking fluid in use in the state today.  Instead it pointed clearly at some new solution developed by Halliburton.  I watched the hearing, and that was excruciatingly clear.  In fact, Hickenlooper's whole point in saying that was to make the argument that regulations  need to be structured to preserve incentives for Halliburton to use alternative fracking fluids like that one.

      • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

        How about a regulation that REQUIRES them to use alternative fracking fluids like that one? CleanStim is not new;  it has been around for at least 4 years or more. Have we forgotten the infamous interview of Kathy Hall in "Split Estate"?


        • cdsmithus says:

          That's fine.  I wasn't commenting on that.  I was just somewhat annoyed at finding out the massive head-spinning about Hickenlooper's statement is actually a gigantic manipulative lie.  Maybe in the end, the people who are lying are right about their policy goals… but at the moment, it's hard for me to take them seriously.  They've lost the right to seriously participate in this discussion by, you know, lying to us about what other people said.

          • cdsmithus says:

            To be clear, I'm not talking about gaf here when I'm talking about people doing the lying.  I also thought that Hickenlooper was saying those things too, when I was reading the kind of stuff that gaf quoted.

            But at some point along the chain, someone actually watched the hearing and decided "You know what would be good for our cause; if we selectively quoted Hickenlooper to make it sound like he's saying something ridiculous, and then blast him for it."  Those people need to stop talking and let their more honest peers take up their advocacy instead.

            • Theo says:

              CD — I too watched Governor Hickenlooper's entire testimony (all 7 minutes of it).  The thing that is so odd here is that he keeps talking about drinking the stff.  It's sort of amusing on one level, I guess.  But this is a serious issue.  Why talk about drinking this at all, ever?  He is working so hard to tout the fact that he took a sip of something a year ago, when it is clear that is 100% beside the point.

              I'm a supporter of Governor Hickenlooper.  I voted for him for Mayor and then Governor.  I've never voted against him, and I like him, basically.  But repeatedly touting the fact that he drank fracking fluid is a mistake.  It is too cute, at a minimum, and it belittles a very serious health concern.

              For different reasons, his marijuana comments are likewise offensive and misguided.  It really is inappropriate for the Governor to react by laughing and holding fritos.  On one level, I laughed when I saw the picture.  But I also have children.  There are lots of us parents out there — yes, D's who voted for and support him — who find this sort of thing very cavalier at best.  The Governor of the State should not play games with serious issues.  He is not running a bar anymore.

              • cdsmithus says:

                If your concern is with his joking tone he used in arguing that intellectual property restrictions can stimulate the development of safer alternatives, why in the world would you post a diary quoting Hickenlooper saying "no one would drink the fracking fluids used today" and act like it's a contradiction or a change of any kind?  That's my beef here; that I was deceived for the cynical purpose of getting me upset at someone on the basis of a lie.

                • JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

                  As a long time reader, you should know that it's obvious when people shill this much. The fake outrage at the end is a dead giveaway.

                  Sorry, my threshold just got reached. Nothing personal.

      • gaf says:

        If Hickenlooper was only referring to the antecedent to "it" as "benign" (his word)–in other words if he was only referring to the stuff he drank a few years ago as benign–why this statement?

        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.

        His "most comprehensive and stringent set of regulations" do not require the "benign" fluid–they allow some very nasty stuff and keep it secret from the public. That's why I think he is a tool.

        Perhaps you can explain what are those "incentives" for Haliburton to use benign fluids, how wonderfully cooperative Haliburton has been in the past, why we need to offer "incentives" to Haliburton or anyone else to not poision us, and why we don't just tell them to stop using shit that hurts people.

        • cdsmithus says:

          The argument he was making is very simple, and has three basic propositions: (a) Halliburton developed this solution, which is better than existing fracking fluids.  (b) If they had to publicly disclose its contents in order to use it in Colorado, they would not.  (c) Colorado has found a way to regulate fracking without requiring that public disclosure.

          Why would he talk about drinking fracking fluid?  To support point (a).  Why would he talk about Colorado having "comprehensive and stringent" regulations?  To support point (c).  There are your answers.

          You aren't required to believe the governor's conclusions.  I don't even believe the governor's conclusions.  I don't think Colorado's fracking regulations are are really all that comprehensive or effective.  But to have a reasonable place in this discussion, yes you *do* have to recognize a simple logical argument and not make up dishonest crap like what we have here.

          • JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

            Oh come on, dude. Do you see how this was reported all over the country? Hint: the reports don't contain your contorted explanations.

            The only "dishonest crap" came directly out of Hickenlooper's mouth. Sorry if that makes your job difficult.

            • JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

              Don't believe me? Here's the Durango Herald.


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

              “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.

              Thou doth protest too much, methinks.

            • cdsmithus says:

              As I thought most people on ColoradoPols were aware, my job is as a software developer, not anything in politics.  I've volunteered for the campaigns of John Morse and Mike Merrifield, but I have no affiliation at all with Hickenlooper.

              You may be confused by the fact that I'm now using the username cdsmithus instead of cdsmith; my original username says it's already in use with the web site changed over.

              • JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

                What the hell makes you think I know or care who you are?

                I see you haven't responded to the newest post on this. Why is that?

                • cdsmithus says:

                  Wow, you have issues.  You seemed to think I was here as a paid shill, so I tried to explain that I'm the same person that's been posting occasionally on ColoradoPols on a variety of topics for 6 years or so.  If you don't care about the truth, then fine.  At least I offered the information.

                  Actually, I think the latest post about Hickenlooper is pretty fair.  It quotes enough context to understand what the governor was saying, and takes issue with it and makes an argument that his statements are harmful without completely twisting their intent.  I wish it had been put that way in the first place.

                  • Gray in Mountains says:

                    CD, I think it was misleading. Maybe not purposefully. But, when one must diagram what he said in the meticulous way that you did above in order to understand it another way…

                    • ClubTwitty says:

                      I think it is misleading.  At best it belies real concerns and legitimate issues and reflects a tone deafness to those issues and concerns.  The voices most intent on defending him seem to be the likes of Penry and ABot. 

                      The argument that making companies disclose the chemicals they pump into the ground and to abide by similar rules as other industries do regarding similar practices, is why those companies have to use toxic chemicals instead of stuff you can drink is stupid. 

                      There is no other way to phrase it.  Such disclouse is not now required and Clean Stim is not now being used.  

                      If CO required that all fracks use food-industry grade products and additives (as a start, for instance, to better regulations) and that such be disclosed, I doubt if the Niobrara activity would go away.  Even more so if it were done at the federal level. 

                      Which is the other problem in the whole 'I drink frack juice (but not just any frack juice)' anecdote. Is Hick saying that Colorado will require Clean Stim (or similar)?  SInce he is saying that only the state can regulate oil and gas (at the federal level its one-size-fits-allism when each of hte 50 states is different; and at the local jurisdiction its too much 'uncertainly' becasue 'industry needs one standard not 64').   I think the 'I drink frack fluid' is more Hick schtik gone awry.  People should be concerned about it and what it reflects. 

                  • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

                    Give it up, cd…the only surprise here is Hicks' head hasn't spun off his shoulders. The clear message in this charade is, John Hickenlooper will play any fool COGA and the CPA tell him to play because they have him convinced they can make him president as even more of a natural gas sap than our current POTUS.Obama and Hick believe that natural gas is "clean" and it is a valuable contribution to our economy.

                    Neither is true.

                    Hick put this crap out for a reason…so he could INTRODUCE this argument…the very one for which you have so easily fallen. Now they will try to sell it with millions upon millions of dollars of advertising and campaign contributions.

                    So the message is…we have to go easy on them so they will voluntarily do the right thing?

                    As my son would say…that's fucked up.



          • gaf says:

            cd, you may be right about the "three basic propostions" of Hickenlooper's argument. But it is not a "simple logical argument." It is an arugment that leaves out critical information that would undercut the argument if included: it isn't the same stuff; and Haliburton doesn't use it in Colorado. Leaving out that information is highly misleading, and for Hickenlooper to do so means he is either stupid or a tool for the industry. I don't think he is stupid.

  10. RavenDawg says:

    There is a bigger point.

    According to a presentation I attended recently sponsored by Rep Beth McCann and Sen Pat Steadman, the explosion in domestic oil and gas production from "non-conventional" (ie difficult to extract) sources comes from the convergence of three technologies:

    1. 3D seismic imaging

    2. Directional drilling

    3. Fracking–especially important for extracting natural gas.

    That is, without fracking, extracting natural gas in Colorado is going to be extremely difficult and non-profitable.  From that perspective limiting fracking is the leverage point to reducing carbon production in the state

    At this point global carbon production and emissions are like nuclear weapons–we have the technology to destroy the planet as we know it with available reserves.  The immediate health risk due to widespread fracking use is a concern, but the potential contribution to the present trajectory of climate change enabled by expansion of fracking to my mind is way, way more serious–and a reason to fight Hickenlooper tooth and nail.  He is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    • wade norris says:

      Furthermore, Now you have just trained my laser like vision on Representative McCann and Representative Steadman.

      Would you care to elaborate on this presentation that they gave?

      you can call me or email me at your leisure…. or perhaps, those two representatives, who you claim made this gesture will back this up themselves.

      I'd say what's more likely is that you are a troll for those who paid you. And to that I say, pity you..

  11. wade norris says:

    ravendawg is clearly a well financed plant from the oil and gas industry and as Forrest Gump would say

    'and that's all I have to say about that'


    • RavenDawg says:


      The meeting was held last Wednesday Feb 6.  The flyer is below. It was billed as an informational meeting.  The speakers were a UC Denver geologist who at least tried to be objective, and the Director of the COGC who was clearly a Hickenlooper pro-industry shill IMO.  He ran into heated resistance from the audience. It was a useful session overall. 

      My point was that what I took from the meeting was that limiting fracking would have the outcome to limit carbon production which in my opinion is a good thing to do. That wasn't their message, it was my conclusion.  I'm not sure how that makes me an oil and gas shill?  The wine must be deterioriating my prose beyond recognition.

      I hope the rest of your evening goes better.

  12. wade norris says:

    The speakers were a UC Denver geologist who at least tried to be objective, and the Director of the COGC who was clearly a Hickenlooper pro-industry shill IMO.  He ran into heated resistance from the audience. It was a useful session overall.  My point was that what I took from the meeting was that limiting fracking would have the outcome to limit carbon production which in my opinion is a good thing to do. That wasn't their message, it was my conclusion.  I'm not sure how that makes me an oil and gas shill?

    My apologies,

    and glad to meet you…

  13. ClubTwitty says:

    I have it narrowed down to two possibilities:

    1) incomprehensibly incompetent in understanding real citizen concerns about the ACTUAL frack fluids being used and REAL incidents that are and have happened in Colorado (like wells a few hundred feets from homes spewing toxic crap for over a day) OR

    2) intentionally and purposefully misleading


    Both are highly problematic.

    • RavenDawg says:

      I pick #2 with a little #1 thrown in owing to total hubris and arrogance.

      My conclusions coming away from the "informational" session I described above were that

      1. The COGC Director Matt Lepore is a pro-industry shill and he is Hickenlooper's boy.  He and his boss Hickenlooper are pushing expanding natural gas production as inevitable and beneficial for the state, and the "fracking-safe as milk" line as a concerted PR campaign.   

      And taken together with the policy of Gov + COGC opposing local control of fracking regs, it appears to me that this is a comprehensive lawyer-lobbing campaign directed from the governor level to advocate for continuing expansion of natural gas production wherever it is profitable, regardless of opposition.

      2. If Hickenlooper thinks that he can jam his fracking vision down the throats of the urban-suburban, environmentally-aware constituency that supported his candidacy, he has seriously mis-read the political winds.  I certainly don't think Mr. Lepore was prepared for a close encounter with a room full of Denver Cap Hill-Park Hill Dems.

      I think this is going to be the core issue that tests whether Hick can maintain leadership and support of Colorado Democrats.

      • The realistThe realist says:

        I absolutely agree with you.  Not only are there thousands of environmentally-aware Dems in the Denver area and along the Front Range, there are thousands more living in the Western Slope gas patch who also "brung him to the dance." They all are watching closely, and are exceedingly unhappy with the Guv.


  14. JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

    Fortunately for Gov. "Frackenlooper," Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post had her can of whitewash ready.

    Did this upset you? Too bad, "state capitol veterans" loved it.

    I don't know what the hell Lynn Bartels thinks she is, but she's not a journalist.


  15. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    Morgan…are you listening?

  16. ClubTwitty says:

    Rick Wagner can read…?  Who knew, but either he can or he had someone read him this diary as the space he occupies weekly in the Grand Junction Fish Wrapper–where a column might be in other papers and which sometimes appear to be attempting something roughly analgous to an 'argument'–mentions it.  

    That someone like Rick Wagner (and the Colorado Observer it turns out) have praise for Hick and how he stands up to Coloradans concerned about public health and safety pretty much sums it up IMO.  


    • BlueCat says:

      Interesting article in today's big Denver paper, right next to one about Hick  regaling DC with the fun fracking fluid cocktail story.  Headlined "Fracking-fouled water gushes from broken Weld well-head" it describes the latest harrowing incident and mentions, among other things, that about 17% of the 2,078 oil and gas spills reported since January 2008 have contaminated ground water and that fracking waste water has been one of the most common substances spilled. How long will it be until desperate water wars make every oil war look like a cricket match?

      Note to Hick and friends: Water is more valuable than oil or gas. You just don't realize that yet because of the price tag in dollars assigned to each of those things. How does massive global death strike you as a price? A tad high?

  17. coob says:

    Shit, at least Rubio went for the bottled water.

  18. ClubTwitty says:

    Today Dr. Urbina director of CDPHE was speaking at a BLM meeting on fracking…

    It's OK that you don't know what chemicals are in a frack in which quantities.  Becasue its like a Big Mac's 'secret sauce' you know, that stuff that comes on the sandwich YOU SPECIFICALLY REQUEST…yeah, just like getting the minerals under your land fracked against your will.  Just like it.  Its basically Thousand Island Dressing…  Fear not.  Big mac's are good for you…

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