Hickenlooper touts energy record in bid for presidency

Source: Mike Lee and Edward Klump, E&E News reporters • Posted: Monday, March 18, 2019

HOUSTON — Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, searching for a middle road to the Democratic presidential nomination, touted his energy credentials to a roomful of energy executives, while also stressing the importance of acting on climate change.

Colorado was the first state to regulate methane from oil and gas production. Hickenlooper helped negotiate the plan with environmentalists and oil drillers, and said it shows his track record of solving thorny problems (Energywire, March 6, 2014).

“A quiet majority of people are frustrated by the dysfunction in Washington,” he said during the CERAWeek by IHS Markit energy conference.

Hickenlooper earned a master’s degree in geology and worked in the petroleum industry before being laid off during the oil bust of the 1980s. He switched careers and opened a brewpub in Denver, later becoming the city’s mayor and a two-term governor.

He said his business experience might appeal to primary voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. It’ll also set him apart from other Democratic candidates, most of whom are senators and members of Congress.

“I am proud to take the mantle of entrepreneur,” he said.

A relative on his father’s side, Bourke Hickenlooper, was governor of Iowa and a four-term U.S. senator. Growing up, he spent summers in New Hampshire.

Hickenlooper has hedged on his support for the Green New Deal, the ambitious proposal by congressional Democrats to tackle climate change and create jobs (Energywire, March 5).

“I support the urgency of the Green New Deal,” he said yesterday, but he didn’t offer specifics about the proposal. He later told reporters he’s planning to release a “magnum opus” on energy policy.

Other Democrats may attack his support for the oil industry in Colorado, where fracking has boosted oil production but led to fights between oil companies and local governments. As governor, Hickenlooper said it was illegal for cities and counties to impose their own drilling bans (Energywire, March 12, 2013).

He told reporters yesterday, “We worked continuously to try and bring more local control but again to respect property rights.”

The fight over drilling is still going on in Colorado. The state Senate recently approved a bill that would clarify cities and counties can regulate parts of oil and gas drilling, and overhaul the state’s energy watchdog, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.