Gov. John Hickenlooper’s top oil and gas regulator, Matt Lepore, disgracefully played the class card and tried to pit the working poor against efforts to protect our air and water from drilling pollution.
At a recent energy summit, the Fort Collins Coloradoan reported his comments:
“If you look at the demographics of anti-fracking activists, he said, they are generally affluent enough not to be concerned with the cost of home heating and cooling, he said.
The truth is that low income populations are often the most threatened by pollution from dirty forms of energy. Reasons vary. For example, the working poor are more likely to live next to major sources of pollution and have less access to affordable, quality healthcare.
Oil and gas drilling operations moving further into city limits pose similar problems. If a drill rig shows up next to a school or across from an apartment complex, the working poor have less mobility and can’t pick-up and move their family to a better neighborhood.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that oil and gas drilling pollution releases cancer causing chemicals into the air and dangerous ozone-forming pollutants, which can lead to asthma.
Lepore could also use a lesson in energy economics. Lepore presented a false choice between low energy prices vis-a-vis natural gas and coal. There’s no reason why we can’t clean-up drilling operations, increase our investment in clean energy, and continue to have affordable energy.
Just look at the lessons Colorado has learned over the years. Xcel Energy has said that Colorado’s shift toward renewables, such as wind and solar, will save Coloradans, rich and poor alike, $100 million over 25 years.
Lepore was smart enough to apologize for his comments, but it was too little too late. He was clearly trying to play the class card and play-up a political wedge between Coloradans.
The comments also provide a unique insight into how Gov. Hickenlooper and his administrators view residents who have concerns with oil and gas – with open hostility.
Instead of viewing Coloradans as the enemy, Gov. Hickenlooper and his administration should stop the attacks, have an honest dialogue, and prove how they plan to ensure clean air and clean water for Coloradans, regardless of a family’s class status or wealth.
This is the third installment in our blog series “Hickenlooper’s Misdeeds” which shines a spotlight on how Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has put the interests of oil and gas companies ahead of the health of Colorado families and local communities.