Hickenlooper calls for climate action

Source: Jennifer Yachnin, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, June 18, 2018

DENVER — Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) disparaged the Trump administration last night for creating roadblocks to state-level attempts to address climate change.

At the same time, he urged Centennial State residents to pursue nonpartisan approaches for a cleaner environment.

Hickenlooper’s remarks came at an event focused on the Colorado Climate Plan, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.

“A lot of people have voiced the opinion for years that a really effective response to climate change can’t just start at the federal level and stop there; it’s got to go all the way down to the municipal level,” Hickenlooper told E&E News ahead of his appearance at the nonprofit Alliance Center (Greenwire, April 30, 2012). The event was co-hosted by E2, Environmental Entrepreneurs.

He added: “Now that we see a disconnection at the federal level … it puts the burden, the emphasis even more on municipal, county, local and state responsibility.”

In his later remarks, Hickenlooper highlighted his decision last year to add Colorado to the U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of states that have vowed to comply with the Paris climate accord despite President Trump’s move to exit the agreement (Climatewire, July 12, 2017).

But Hickenlooper told the audience that Colorado faces challenges in meeting its own climate plan because of impulsiveness within the Trump administration, as well as on Capitol Hill.

“The unpredictability of what’s coming from Washington, both from the Congress and from the White House, and that makes any plan we create vulnerable,” said Hickenlooper. He added, however, that other factors, such as the state’s high elevation and low precipitation levels, also create hurdles.

Nonetheless, Hickenlooper went on to repeatedly urge audience members to consider climate change efforts, and policy in general, from a nonpartisan viewpoint.

He said he hopes to implement the goals of the Colorado Climate Plan — which he called “a loose form of a cookbook” — through a range of options, from mobilizing rural communities to become paragons of emissions reduction to a pronounced focus on the impacts of climate change on outdoor recreation.

“We’re not asking to be political; we’re saying, ‘How can we help you speak out for clean air, clean water, public lands?'” Hickenlooper said.

The governor, who is serving his final months in office before term limits will push him out early next year, also addressed the contest to determine his successor. He lamented the use of negative campaign ads during the recent primary contest.

“We’re depressing the product category of democracy, which demands that people talk to each other,” Hickenlooper said, counseling the audience to see a “cultural norm where we didn’t try to tell people why we’re right and they’re wrong,” and to “find some common facts.”

Despite his desire to tamp down greenhouse emissions, Hickenlooper rejected the idea that the state will move away from hydraulic fracturing in the near future.

“I’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to assess the energy needs not just of Colorado but of this country and this hemisphere and this world,” Hickenlooper said.

He said that while he expects to see increases in solar and wind energy generation, “we’re still going to need a lot of natural gas for a while. I don’t have details for how long that is.”

He added: “At least for a while, horizontal drilling and fracking is going to be part of the way to get that natural gas out.”