In Colorado, in the circles I run in, Governor Hickenlooper, when he disagrees with what we might call “the “environmentalist” narrative” is said to be “in the pockets of the oil and gas industry.” There have been op-eds in the Denver Post, which I couldn’t find, but I did find this.
The cozy relationship between politicians and big business has been a fact of life in America since the days of the robber barons. Today, this affiliation is especially strong between certain governors and the oil and gas industry. And, the consequences could include drastic impacts on the health and safety of their constituents. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the case of Colorado’s Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Here’s the link to this story.
Now this is kind of good, because Hickenlooper is a D, and so we have been blessed with relief from partisanizing invective, at least for this. But the interesting thing is that no hype is too strong for some writers.
But when I first heard this idea about Hick being in the pocket of industry, I had listened to this podcast of the Frackingsense series. What I heard on the podcast was something else entirely. The understanding of the technology and the people involved, by someone who had worked in the field of natural resources. Listen and see if you can hear the same thing. The Governor starts talking about 11 minutes in..but hearing Professor Limerick introduce their work in the first 11 minutes is also interesting.
There are many parts of this podcast that echo some of our forest natural resource disputes. Ideas like “where do you get your facts?”; with some thinking that folks in the academy are better sources than the experts in state government or others working in the field. I find this fascinating, because we discover that all these years it has not been seen useful by the Science Establishment to study the health effects of fracking (which has been going on for 20 years or more). Meanwhile, the folks in the State (whom Hick mentions) have been working in the trenches (or the wellpads) with the industry experiencing the real world of regulation. It seems to be a matter of trust.. with the academics thought to be more “independent” or perhaps more “objective science.” Fortunately, it appears that NSF has asked for evidence of neutrality in this grant.
Listening to the Governor he seems to lay out the complexities (like what do you do when you have split estate and people bought the mineral rights?). He seems to be coming from the “we’re all in this together, let’s figure out a way” school. But others are more in the “let’s not do it” school, which of course is difficult, as Professor Limerick points out because Coloradans’ behavior shows we are fine with using natural resources but perhaps not fine with producing them. Which means that we export both the impacts and the jobs to somewhere else. Does this sound familiar?
Except in this case, we are not exporting them to our friendly northern neighbors as with timber. Using natural gas has benefits for our country in terms of our economy, and also avoiding “foreign entanglements.” Maybe it’s because Colorado is host to numerous military bases, we can see firsthand the impacts of these to our military people and their families. We need to do this in a safe way. There is no “us and them,” we are all in this together.
As I listen to the Governor talk. he seems to know the business and knows the people. He even has real-world examples, as in “ if our energy prices are too high, we can’t attract business”. And of course, the conundrum, businesses bring jobs- without business, people are poor; and research shows that being poor has negative health effects.
Anyway, here’s a link to the podcast. Listen and see what similarities you detect between energy production and forest controversies.