Dem Governor Schools Trump On Fracking

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Colorado’s Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper said Monday that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump just doesn’t get hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

“I don’t think [Trump] understands, completely, the issue,” Hickenlooper told The Denver Post. “But that’s not unusual for him.”

Trump told reporters Friday he supports fracking in general, but thinks local governments should be able to ban the process. In Colorado, environmentalists have been pushing local governments to ban fracking, despite a Colorado Supreme Court ruling. Hickenlooper has vehemently opposed local fracking bans.

Several environmental groups, including The Sierra Club, Food and Water Watch, Earthworks and a local group called Coloradans Resisting Extreme Energy Development (CREED) agree with Trump and support local bans on fracking. Hickenlooper, a former geologist, has bucked his own political party to oppose these local fracking bans for years, often fighting with Colorado environmentalists.

When The Denver Post asked Hickenlooper why he thought Trump was wrong the governor responded, “if you turn over total responsibility to the local communities, they are subject to the voters who aren’t anywhere near the (fracking site) but will, in many cases … vote to ban any oil and gas activity at all.”

Several state and federal courts have agreed with Hickenlooper that only the state government has the legal authority to regulate fracking, as any ban would be “preempted by state law and therefore, is invalid and unenforceable.” The oil and gas industry of most states has historically been regulated by state, not local, government.

Currently, the state’s environmentalists are supporting a ballot initiative that would ban fracking across 90 percent of the state. The initiative would cost $14.5 billion in lost economic output and 104,000 jobs, according to a study by economists at the University of Colorado.

The ballot measure is part of a larger green political campaign of 11 measures proposed to the state legislature in January. The ballot measures include attempts to delay the fracking permitting process to an outright ban on fracking in Colorado.

Energy is a huge portion of Colorado’s economy and fracking has caused an economic boom in Colorado. The oil and gas industry added $29.6 billion to Colorado’s economy in 2012, or about 10 percent of all annual economic activity in the state. The industries also supported 111,500 jobs, allowing the state to recover from the Great Recession faster than its neighbors.

The fracking industry in Colorado is expected to expand too. U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) officials said in June that parts of western Colorado have upwards of 40 times more natural gas than previously believed, making the state the second largest natural gas-producing formation in the America.

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