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.