Background: The use of hydraulic fracturing technology allows energy companies to drill miles-long horizontal wells and extract oil and gas deposits by fracturing shale rock. In Colorado, fracking has led to a boom in the energy industry in Colorado, which counts $30 billion in economic impact and tens of thousands of jobs. However, the proliferation of wells and their location near Front Range communities is generating conflict.
He’s a major industry supporter
A: Gardner is a supporter of the oil and gas industry, and the industry has supported his campaigns in return. He doesn’t believe additional regulations are needed. In addition, he supported an effort to roll back a regulation to limit methane emissions from drilling sites on federal land. The critics of the rule, which was put in place by President Barack Obama, suggested it amounted to federal overreach. As for the state-level methane limits, he accepts the state has its own regulations and believes each state should set the bar themselves.
A mixed record on fracking
A: Hickenlooper has long supported fracking but now wants to make fracking “obsolete.” He won’t explain his position. But he has argued that prohibiting drilling in Colorado would shift more drilling out of state and will not help drive down global greenhouse gas emissions.
He supports 100% renewable energy by 2050, which would essentially shut down the oil and gas industry. And he supports tighter restrictions on methane emissions and helped put such a rule in place in Colorado.
Background: The political conversation about climate change is significant in Colorado, where the Democratic-led legislature is making significant policy shifts with support from Gov. Jared Polis. In Colorado, just 23% of the state’s power is generated from wind, solar and hydroelectric power, with the rest coming from fossil fuels like coal and natural gas. Any policy moves would affect the energy industry that employs more than 30,000 workers in the state, among oil, gas and coal.
He supports wind and solar energy but opposes reductions in fossil fuels
A: Gardner touts an all-of-the-above approach to energy policy and supports efforts to boost wind and solar industries in Colorado. But his campaign website says he rejected the premise that addressing climate change means shutting down power plants that rely on coal and other fossil fuels. He touts his Great American Outdoors Act , because it addresses biodiversity and climate change by not allowing development of certain public lands. He also fought for increases in federal funding for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden.
Wants a transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050
A: Hickenlooper says federal lawmakers should set a goal to achieve a 100% renewable energy economy with net-zero emissions by 2050. In the interim, he wants to see a 43% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. He would fight to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, enforcing stricter standards on methane pollution and other harmful emissions and increase the development of wind and solar energy.
His policy proposals would allow the oil and gas industry to continue operations for decades, however. He says the implementation of a carbon dividend plan will allow revenue generated from the price of carbon to be returned directly to American taxpayers as a dividend.
Background: The Green New Deal is a resolution authored by progressive members of Congress to tackle climate change and further economic equity. Unveiled in 2019, the resolution is short on details and not actual legislation, but it lays out broad goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to help put people to work on renewable energy technologies.
He opposes the Green New Deal
A: In 2019, he opposed a measure to advance the proposals outlined in the Green New Deal even as he acknowledged that human activity is contributing to climate change. He says such a plan would decimate the fossil fuel industry and cost thousands of jobs.
Despite prior statements, he opposes the Green New Deal
A: In his failed 2020 presidential campaign, Hickenlooper initially suggested he would embrace 99% of the Green New Deal. But then he changed direction, saying he supports the concept but not the proposal, writing an opinion piece titled “the Green New Deal sets us up for failure.”
He says whatever policies come forward on climate change must be easy to put in place so they can make an impact sooner. With the complexity of the Green New Deal, such as providing a federal job guarantee for every American, he says it would be difficult to get the legislation through Congress and even harder to implement.
Background: Coloradans this year will choose whether to direct the state to develop a plan to reintroduce wolves into the state in 2023 under Proposition 114. The idea is that connecting wolf populations in the Northern Rockies with packs in the south will enable recovery of a species that was nearly hunted to extinction in the early 1900s.
Opposed for many reasons
A: The recent discovery of a wolf pack in northwestern Colorado means state-led reintroduction is not necessary, Gardner says. He also is concerned about the livelihood of ranchers and hunters who would be impacted by wolves.
Opposed reintroduction as governor
A: It’s not clear where he stands. Hickenlooper as governor opposed reintroducing wolves to Colorado. He signed a letter sent to the Department of Interior expressing opposition to reintroducing wolves in the mountain west. He and others have argued that the Mexican gray wolf never previously existed in Colorado.