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Hickenlooper On Fracking: ‘I Never Said We Needed More Regulation’

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is denying that he said the success of a new fracking task force “is dependent upon it ending in regulation,” even though he said it in front of a reporter for the Associated Press.

“What I said was legislation,” Hickenlooper told a reporter for Colorado Community Media. “Go back and look at the quotes. I never said we needed more regulation.”

The task force was announced as a means of persuading Colorado Democratic Rep. Jared Polis to drop proposed ballot measures that would have allowed local communities to regulate the oil and gas industry more strictly than the state.

Hickenlooper and others were concerned that, if passed, the new laws would severely impact the jobs and the state economy. As a compromise, he and Polis agreed to form a task force to study existing regulations and propose changes.

“Its success is dependent upon it ending in regulation,” AP reported Hickenlooper as saying about the commission.

The comment angered some legislators.

“We should go into it from the premise that the commission take a look at whether we actually need regulations,” state House Minority Leader Rep. Brian DelGrosso told Colorado Community Media. “He’s starting with the premise that it’s going to be set up to regulate.”

Hickenlooper is now saying he was misquoted, but he has a history of trying to walk back his comments. During a recent meeting with Colorado’s elected sheriffs, for example, he seemed to agree with their opinion that the state’s new gun control laws — which he championed during a contentious 2013 legislative session — were unenforceable. He said he wouldn’t argue” with one sheriff’s characterization of the new laws as “worthless.”

But when the comments caused an uproar, he backpedaled during an interview with Denver’s Fox 31.

“I didn’t say it’s unenforceable, I said it’s difficult to enforce,” Hickenlooper said. “A lot of laws are difficult to enforce; that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be there. If we went through the process again, I’d sign it again.”

During the same meeting with the sheriffs, Hickenlooper said he hadn’t talked to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg about the new gun laws when in fact he had.

“There seems to be a pattern developing here,” Colorado GOP spokesman Matt Connelly said in an email about the AP quote. “Hickenlooper says what he is really thinking, then tries to backtrack. We saw it with the sheriffs and we’re seeing it now on fracking.”

Another pattern is that Hickenlooper lately seems obsessed about “pissing off” people. He used the phrase when speaking to the sheriffs — “I pissed you guys off” — and more recently when refusing to stake a position on the Keystone XL pipeline because doing so is “just going to piss off a lot of people in Washington that I don’t need to piss off.”

Now he’s worried about upsetting people off when he chooses the members of the fracking task force.

“People ask me, ‘Who’s gonna pick ‘em?’ I am,” Hickenlooper told Colorado Community Media. “The buck stops here and I guarantee you we’re going to have everybody pissed off again.”

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