DeGROW: Hickenlooper’s lawsuit may not be enough to cure ‘frack-fright’

By   /   September 27, 2012  /   Comments Off on DeGROW: Hickenlooper’s lawsuit may not be enough to cure ‘frack-fright’

By Ben DeGrow | Special to Colorado Watchdog

Ben DeGrow

Gov. John Hickenlooper hasn’t kept a strong and steady popularity rating near 60 percent by tackling controversies.

But fracking is the exception.

The Longmont TimesCall‘s Scott Rochat captured in words and video Hickenlooper’s encounter with radical anti-fracking activists. Their chants included: “Dirty water, dirty air! We get sick and you don’t care!” The guys at Colorado Peak Politics note a certain irony to the vocal, left-leaning crowd “attempting to intimidate a governor they helped elect.”

Who’s become sick? I don’t know. The Times-Call report only cited protesters’ concerns that “Too much isn’t known” about fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, a process in which high-pressure fluids penetrate rock formations to access hard-to-reach supplies of oil and natural gas.

Protesters showed no interest in hearing a response from Hickenlooper. It’s probably also too optimistic to expect they would be receptive to Donovan Schaffer‘s Independence Institute paper titled “Frack Attack.” Taking a careful read with an open mind has been known to calm bouts of “frack-fright.”

It could be just the prescription for “Our Longmont,” whose protesters shouted at the governor with cries of “End fracking now,” as he left a local chamber of commerce panel event where he discussed a city charter proposal on the subject.

Introduced by Our Longmont, Ballot Question 300 would enshrine a municipal ban on hydraulic fracturing. The policy would strengthen anti-fracking rules that provoked the Governor’s Office to file a lawsuit against the City of Longmont.

Hickenlooper, a trained geologist, reasoned that a series of inconsistent local drilling standards would make exploration difficult and chaotic for the oil and gas industry.

Making the decision to sue the City of Longmont only earned Hickenlooper harsh feedback from many other municipal officials, who signed a letter opposing the action. At the same time, an earlier Watchdogreport noted that the state’s new energy regulator supports the lawsuit but wants stronger regulations on oil and gas companies — which, he says, “don’t have a conscience.”

One thing is clear: You can’t question the fact that Colorado’s Democratic governor has taken a clear and strong stand on an issue of controversy, most especially within his own party. Balanced energy development and a focus on restoring jobs and economic growth ought not to be thrown overboard to appease a chanting mob.

Sure seems like a reasonable way to keep that popularity rating afloat.