For Hickenlooper, a toast to drilling rules
Gov. John Hickenlooper swigged down so-called “fracking” fluid in a meeting with industry and environmental organization representatives, he told a U.S. Senate committee on Tuesday.
Calling the drink a “benign fluid” made with food additives, Hickenlooper said states have done a good job of regulating drilling for natural gas but also said he envisioned an expanded role for the federal government in dealing with drilling.
Hickenlooper offered first that he had drunk fluid used in hydraulic fracturing, saying it was “not terribly tasty, but I’m alive to tell the story.”
Then, under questioning by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., Hickenlooper offered that he was joined by industry and environmental representatives.
“We drank it around the table in almost a ritual kind of way,” Hickenlooper said.
Hickenlooper used the example of drinking fracking fluid to demonstrate the effectiveness of state regulation, saying that Colorado had struck a balance on substances such as fracking fluids, allowing companies to protect their recipes as a matter of intellectual property.
“If we were overly zealous in forcing them to disclose what they created, they wouldn’t bring it into our state,” Hickenlooper said.
Hickenlooper drank a frack fluid known as CleanStim with Dave Lesar, chief executive officer of Halliburton, during a meeting on Nov. 30, 2011, in the governor’s office, Hickenlooper spokesman Eric Brown said.
Asked by Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., whether Colorado’s regulatory regime had hampered the state’s economy, Hickenlooper replied, “No, not at all.”
The United States, Hickenlooper told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is “legitimately on the threshold” of energy security as a result of fracking for natural gas and oil and advancements in renewable fuels.
The conversion of coal plants to those fired by natural gas has resulted in carbon-dioxide emissions being at their lowest level “since Eisenhower turned over the White House to John Kennedy,” said Hickenlooper, who worked as a geologist before being laid off and going on to found a brewery in Denver.
Hydraulic fracturing is “really game changing,” he said.
The fracking-fluid-drinking party occurred at the Colorado Oil and Gas Association conference last year, said David Ludlam, executive director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.
Hickenlooper’s confession drew a laugh from former Mesa County Commissioner Kathy Hall, then with the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, who caught flak in 2009 for saying on film that she had tasted fracking fluid.
“Now that’s ironic,” she said of Hickenlooper’s testimony.
Hydraulic fracturing has provided the U.S. with a rare opportunity to cement its position as the world’s economic leader, Andrew Liveris, chairman and CEO of The Dow Chemical Co., told the committee.
The nation needs to export both natural gas under controlled conditions and the finished products that the availability of gas power makes possible.
“We’re in the fourth or fifth year of a 100-year advantage” that the nation should leverage to its own economic benefit, Liveris said.