Hickenlooper Responds Poorly To Local Fracking Ban Wins

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

As the Colorado Independent's John Tomasic reports:

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper says he understands citizen concerns about neighborhood gas drilling but maintains that passing local laws restricting the activity is the wrong way to address the problem.

“The fracking ban votes reflect the genuine anxiety and concern of having an industrial process close to neighborhoods,” Hickenlooper said in an email to the Independent. “Yet local fracking bans essentially deprive people of their legal rights to access the property they own. Our state Constitution protects these rights.

“A framework exists for local communities to work collaboratively with state regulators and the energy industry. We all share the same desire of keeping communities safe.

“These bans may or may not result in new legal challenges from mineral rights holders, individual companies or others. No matter what happens we won’t stop working with local governments and supporting regulations that can be a national model for protecting public health and safety.”

Our view: the political balance between the need to produce energy and the desire by local communities to protect health and safety depends on trust. Gov. John Hickenlooper's problem is that he has lost a good deal of that trust since taking office, and to the extent that his objective as governor was to "make peace" between the energy industry and his fellow Democrats, he has failed. At this point, Hickenlooper has been pigeonholed by his own statements and actions as an unreasonably, and on occasion deceptively, pro-industry governor.

The people who worked to pass the moratoriums on fracking will not be encouraged by this latest statement. Hickenlooper's first words in response to the success of these local bans should not be in defense of the oil industry's "property rights." We're honestly surprised to see such persistent tone-deafness from Hickenlooper on this issue. He risks perpetuating the disaffection with base Democrats sensitive to this issue, a problem that began the first time he claimed to have "drank frack fluid," going into an election year. Subsequent gaffes involving top staffers have strongly reinforced this perception. He could try to fix the problem if he didn't all-but-ignore the concerns of local residents in every statement he gives; Hick always talks about mineral rights, completely glossing over the concern about having a "right" to feel safe from environmental harm in your own house.

With Colorado politics maybe more polarized than ever, Hickenlooper needs the Democratic base. He cannot count on transpartisan charm to win re-election in 2014. With a weak field of GOP opponents but an energized GOP base fired up to vote against him, Hickenlooper's electoral future is with his fellow Democrats, the same people he keeps alienating with his own "folksy" arrogance on this issue. And don't take our word for it: the polling data clearly indicates as much.

It's why we believe the biggest threat to John Hickenlooper's re-election is John Hickenlooper.

33 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    Yet local fracking bans essentially deprive people of their legal rights to access the property they own. Our state Constitution protects these rights.

    And fracking essentially deprives people of secure and enjoyable use of and the value of their private property. Which private property is more important, Governor?

    The laws that gave legal dominance to the mineral estate were enacted in the 19th century. Those imperatives have changed, and to use that as an excuse to make surface owners pay for bad decisions about where to invest in minerals is fundamentally wrong. Tough luck to those who purchased minerals located near churches, schools, hospitals, residences, waterways, and any other vulnerable locations. You should have done your due diligence.

    I should not have to subsidize your bad investment.

  2. Diogenesdemar says:

    Is it just me, or is Hick starting to resemble Brophy more and more with each passing day…???

  3. jaytee says:

    And the people in these towns are getting better and better at <a href="http://www.coloradoindependent.com/144919/broomfield-joins-front-range-movement-to-ban-urban-fracking">articulating their view</a>:

    "The split estate is a concept that may have run its course,” he said, referring to the idea that drilling companies can own the land under your house and can do what they want with it, even while you’re living your life above, making dinner, raising children, reading book on the porch swing.

    “They can’t say that it’s all about their property rights. It’s not mutually exclusive. You can’t say it’s all about property rights while you’re crowding into our backyards with your machinery.”

  4. ClubTwitty says:

    He's being Governor for ALL of Colorado, including its oil and gas. 

    • langelomisteriosolangelomisterioso says:

      Now if only that oil and gas belonged to all of Colorado, but that's "socialism"eh?.Or, not advocating armed violence here, we could take the N3bbish tack,gun up and shoot the frackers off private property.

       

      • BlueCat says:

        For the closest thing to socialism where the distribution of profit from Big Oil is concerned, see Sarah Palin's Alaska, by the way. You get a check and you get a check and you get a check, etc. kind of like on Oprah.

  5. BlueCat says:

    About those polls. As of the time they were taken, June 2013,  it actually looks pretty good for Hick. Solid leads in the most populous urban/suburban areas. 

    Progressives may be pissed off at him but this is a purple state and Hick won with the votes of lots of moderates and old style Rs who usually vote R. My husband does work for a lot of these types in places like Cherry Hills who really liked Hick for his first election and who are just fine with Big Oil. 

     

    We may be over-estimating how much damage this does him taking into account all the demos. Where we see DINO and don't like it, the sophisticated  

    McMansion crowd sees DINO and thinks of it as a plus. They get the pro-corporate policies without crazy Tea Party stuff. Kind of like the GOP candidates they used to vote for all the time.

     

    I couldn't agree more about the split estate concept, though. Pretty hard to reconcile who is having their property rights violated, the owner of mineral rights by interference from the owner of the surface property, as Hick sees it, or the other way around. When push comes to shove the mineral rights owners seem to prevail and that's clearly as Hick feels it ought to be but in that case it's far from an even split.  

     

    What would it do to our real estate market if it had to be made crystal clear  prior to every sale and well prior to closing that any time the mineral rights owners feel like it they can come in, turn your life upside down, destroy your peace, if not your health, and drastically reduce the value of your property?  If that's the case do you actually have private property rights in any meaningful sense, split or otherwise, or is it really the mineral rights owner who has all the rights?  

     

    Maybe Hick could take five minutes to give that some thought.

    • gertie97 says:

      I've long thought that real estate listings and disclosures, both prior to and at closing, by real estate agents as per the status of mineral and water rights should be fully disclosed. I've suggested it to various politicians over the years. They've all rolled their eyes, because if there's one industry more powerful in Colorado than O&G, it's real estate, encompassing developers, contractors, builders, small equipment owners and companies…and real estate agents. That's where the effort should be focused, not on Hick.

       

  6. Not Dame Edna says:

    I understand the unhappiness with Hickenlooper over his positions in oil and gas policy but 2014 is not the year grill him over it.

    If you like the idea of Governor Tancredo or Governor Gessler, then by all means carry on. I prefer Governor Hickenlooper and will wait until 2015 to push Hickenlooper on fracking.

    • BlueCat says:

      I doubt lefties are going to be pushing a third party candidate instead of voting for Hick as the preferable choice. I think we'll leave that to the righties. We seem to have more of a learning curve than they do. It's our addiction to, you know, fact based reality.

    • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

      With all due respect, Not Edna, you apparently don't live in the gas patch. Those facing the onslaught of bulldozers, semi-trucks, drilling rigs, and the pungent influx of aromatic hydrocarbons into their airshed don't have time to wait.

      Hick has steadfastly clung to the coat tails of his friends in the Armani suits, the "Oily Boys" of 17th St. As long as there are folks who keep defending him because he is a Democrat, he WILL NOT change his behavior.

      You are saying to him, "Hick, it is OK for you to sue Coloradoans for protecting their homes and their health. It is OK for you to support the rapid degradation of our air quality."

      You defend him because he supported progressive measures any Democrat would support. Sorry, but he needs to change his allegiance from the O&G corporations to the people of the state. Until he does, I(we) will not let up.

      We need a Democrat who will primary this sadly misguided man.

      • Not Dame Edna says:

        If we get a new Governor next year, it won't be a more sympathetic Democrat. I do know that something should be done. For all those activists in this effort, put together a citizens initiative. As I said before, I'd happily sign that. And I am willing to bet that you would have a lot of company.

    • Sunmusing says:

      Yep. Political Pragmatism….It still hurts to see big oil and gas bullying their way into communities…we have the same problem on the west slope…not only drilling and fracking, but a sense of overwhelming kowtowing to corporate masters…we are saddled with pro-polluting, pro-destroying the earth for profit county commissioners…the courts are the only thing standing between the complete shredding of any standards for private property and water rights…Hickenlooper is a goper in dem clothing…blue dog…yellow dog, whatever…

      • BlueCat says:

        But still the only alternative this time around to a way worse GOTP Guv. Let the GOTPers and Libertarians (at least they call themselves that .Pretty much they just don't want to pay taxe.) do the knocking each other off so the people they disagree with the most can win dance.

  7. Ross Cunniff says:

    When you've lost the Pope, you've lost [fill in the blank].

    And, speaking as one of those who worked to pass the moratoria, this recent comment makes it clear that he is not on my side.  And if 2014 is not the year to grill him on it, what year is?  It's the only opportunity we have to apply pressure.

    • BlueCat says:

      I really don't think we have a lot of leverage here. Certainly people should continue to make their voices heard but I don't think Hick is going to change much and it would be insane to try to primary him under present conditions.

  8. Not Dame Edna says:

    Ross, I guess you didn't read the last part of my comment, so I will repeat it. If you prefer Governor Tancredo or Governor Gessler, then by all means carry on.

    • Ross Cunniff says:

      Oh, I read it.  But I see it as a false choice.  If *Hickenlooper* doesn't prefer Governor Tancredo or Governor Gessler, he knows where to find the environmental community.

      And, it is probably not your intent, but the sentiment that "don't fight for what you care for, or the bogeyman will get you" comes across as somewhat condescending.  Kind of, "sit down and shut up."

      • notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

        It is sort of "sit down and shut up." Hick coasted to his first term because the whiny crybaby tea party idiots hijacked the Republican assembly and nominated Dan Maes. A weak candidate to start with and as teapublican as they come. Tancredo waded in because looney as he is, even he knew Maes didn't stand a chance. All Tancredo did, despite his best efforts, was split the Republican vote.   If you wand idiological purity go to church, not the Capitol                                              

      • BlueCat says:

        Wha'ts with the stars and what does " If *Hickenlooper* doesn't prefer Governor Tancredo or Governor Gessler, he knows where to find the environmental community."  mean?  Not being snarky. I just don't get what you're saying and especially don't get how this is what Dame Edna was supposedly saying.

  9. Not Dame Edna says:

    It will be the citizens of Colorado who suffer if Hickenlooper looses to one of the clowns the GOP is running. 

    If you want to fight and not hurt everyone else, then start a citizen's initiative. I'd sign that. But there is a point where you have to be realistic and hurting Hickenlooper's reelection is not the right thing for our state under present circumstances. And while the Governor is terrible on this issue, he has supported and signed many other progressive issues. Top of mind is civil unions, voting rights, immigration reform, and gun safety. Where do you think the GOP clowns stand on these issues?

    • Ross Cunniff says:

      I care about the social issues, of course.  So do nearly all environmentalists.  As does your average person, I think, at least in Colorado.  A GOP governor combined with a GOP house and senate would set those causes back half a decade or more.

      However, the social issues, as painful as it is to realize, and as tragic as it will be for everybody affected, *have* half a decade or more.  To quote Martin Luther King, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."  I have faith, given time, that we will move our state and country in the right direction.

      Our environment does *not* have that kind of time.  Look around.  Planetary health is the defining issue of our day.  Climate change, chemical contamination, soil degradation, urban sprawl, habitat destruction, ocean acidification, air pollution – the list is very long and very depressing.  The Colorado of today is not the Colorado where my father was born in 1934.  Very far from it.  And if we don't do a lot of somethings very soon, we may have all the social rights one could ask for, but no healthy place to live to enjoy them.

      Hickenlooper could still take a stand for the benefit of us all.  It's what I'm hoping for.  I've got several lists where he could start.  But if he does not – I will not raise a cent, nor lift a finger, to help his re-election.  And neither will many others like me.

  10. Not Dame Edna says:

    And when people die of gun shot wounds, they don't come back either. The repeal of the gun safety rules passed keep guns out of the hands of criminals and perpetrators of domestic violence. Maybe you should ask a victim of domestic abuse about how they would feel if their violent abuser is allowed to have a gun.

    • Ross Cunniff says:

      Yes, gunshot deaths are tragic. Do you know what else is tragic? A young mother miscarrying due to contaminated water is tragic. A grandfather dying of chronic pulmonary disease caused be elevated ozone is tragic. Thousands of children growing up surrounded by a post-industrial wasteland is tragic. Tens of thousands dead from global-warming-amplified typhoons is tragic .

      We can continue to trade hyperbole all day, if you like. But the truth is, Hickenlooper has it in his power to change course, and work on environmental as well as social issues. It is going to take a significant and meaningful change on his part to accomplish this. It's up to him, not me.

  11. ClubTwitty says:

    People facing the industrialization of their communites are not looking at it through a political lens.  They want their government to protect their health and safety and for the government's agents to serve the public interest as their first order of business.  

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