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Hickenlooper's Fracking

Despite saying it is safe, Hick does support strict regulation of the industry to prevent leaks and air corruption

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, January 22, 2014.

Like most of us, I liked John Hickenlooper when he was Denver's Mayor and when he became Governor. He was, I thought, rather a perfect Democratic candidate: a progressive with a solid business background in a field - beer and restaurants - that everyone could appreciate and understand. Hick was personable, modest, funny, gracious, and forgiving, five qualities rare in divinity, never mind our species, and he was an effective and efficient politician. I didn't and don't see national office in his future, but great for Colorado with its left and right extremists and a growing Hispanic population, and ebbs and flows of demographics depending on the job market.

Not born here, Hick got a master's degree in geology from the Colorado School of mines and is an observant Quaker, a peace and clambake religious offshoot of Protestantism. He often seems a candidate assembled by a polling of Democrats with near unanimous approval. Even Republicans like and respect him. Nobody wants to run against him.

Well, things seemed to have changed. Whether because of shared engineering values or because he just loves to drill, Hickenlooper had become a best friend of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association and is in favor of Fracking has publicly assured us that fracking is safe, all evidence to the contrary, and he supposedly drank fracking fluid to show that it was safe and not dangerous to human health. To say no more, this is a large and bright blue spark in Democratic minds, souls, hearts, and political tool box. Not only is this mind stuttering, but it screams "Wrong!This Is So WRONG!"

It's as if Nelson Mandela, after winning the South African presidency, announced his daily practice of necrophilia as safe and consensual and recommended it. Or Gwyneth Paltrow doing ads for Monsanto and Cuban cigars with extra tar and public service ads for necrophilia. It's Beyonce announcing a tour supporting a double album of songs made famous by the Archies, Mrs. Miller, and John Denver, and this with a band consisting of only an accordion, banjo, and pan flute. With, of course, dance routines of mimed necrophilia.

Last November, a measure arose in Colorado's Air Quality Control Commission that would mandate rule changes in the many oil and gas wells suddenly appearing in the West. They included direct regulation of methane and the nation's strongest control of leaks, called by the COGA and the Colorado Petroleum Association"fugitive emissions," from well sites, compressors and tanks. COG A and CPA say they support "many aspects of the State's proposed regulations." That is, with just a few tweaks and support for necrophilia.

The two groups want the new laws to apply only "to the areas of the state that are currently not attaining federal air quality standards. They disagree about the cost. They object to the energy industry being "singled out." That makes no sense, given oil and gas regulations would of course only apply to the gas and oil industries which, in any case, no longer can be viewed as the energy industry in total. They want currently leaking wells and infrastructure to remain free to continue leaking with no additional penalties.

As ColoradoPols.com points out, "Colorado's largest drillers–Noble Energy, Anadarko Petroleum and Encana Corporation–are all on board" with the bill as written. And Hickenlooper has pledged his support for these "strongest and most effective rules in the country to reduce air pollution from oil and gas development." So....what's the story with COGA being on the opposite side of the three biggest drillers it supposedly represents? That Hickenlooper is for it seems somewhat at odds with his previous stances suggesting there was no danger as things were. Even if so, these laws are a major step towards bringing the dangers of fracking under control.

The reason that oil and gas wells have gas burned off at the drilling sites is because they cannot just shut off the pipe and assume the pressure will hold miles below. There really is no way to fix a spreading crack and its release of methane down that far, working its way up, even if we had the ability to know the crack had appeared in a manner not suspected. It's something that industry cannot admit, that they run on percentages of disaster, and cannot guarantee squat in the way of safety. Methane gas leaks are not like oil fires. They can be far more dangerous and explosive over a huge area.

Hick still isn't back in the land of the living, but it's good to have him closer.