DENVER – Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday told a room full of Western gas and oil executives that he hasn’t taken a position on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline because he hasn’t wanted to “piss off” the powers that be in Washington, D.C.
“I’ve avoided taking a position (on the Keystone pipeline) because it’s just going to piss off a lot of people in Washington that I don’t need to piss off, and my opinion is not going to change anybody’s opinion there,” Hickenlooper said during a panel discussion at the Rocky Mountain Energy Summit at the Colorado Convention Center.
The panel was titled “Unscripted Ascent: Energy the Western Way,” and it was clear after the governor’s remark that the discussion indeed was “unscripted.”
First reported by The Durango Herald on Twitter, Hickenlooper’s comment caused a flurry of activity on the social-media site. Republican operatives and staff for Hickenlooper’s opponent, former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez, criticized the governor for a lack of leadership.
In a statement emailed to the Herald, Beauprez said Hickenlooper is “far too concerned with what other people think.”
“Whether it’s Barack Obama, Michael Bloomberg, Jared Polis, ‘large donors’ or now generally ‘people in Washington,’ there’s an endless list of people John Hickenlooper will carry water for, but what Coloradans want to know is this: Where do you stand, and will you stand up for us?” continued Beauprez.
Beauprez referenced the gun-control debate in Colorado last year, in which both the Obama Administration and Bloomberg weighed in. And the Polis comment refers to a deal Hickenlooper struck this week with the Boulder congressman, who had threatened to take anti-fracking measures to the ballot if the state didn’t take action to give local governments more control over gas and oil regulations.
Hickenlooper also was beat up Wednesday over a video released by conservative-leaning Revealing Politics that shows the governor telling a group of sheriffs in Aspen in June why his office opposed an effort to raise pay for public officials during an election year.
“Part of who called in to my senior staff were these large donors,” Hickenlooper said in the video.
“We got calls from very successful businesspeople saying, ‘Don’t you dare go near signing something like that in an election year,’” Hickenlooper added in the video.
Beauprez continued his attack on the governor, saying, “I resoundingly support policies, such as the Keystone XL pipeline, that help America create jobs, lead to energy independence and produce safe, clean energy to fuel our economy. If these objectives are upsetting to people in Washington, so be it. It’s what’s in the best interest of Coloradans.”
The U.S. State Department has been examining whether to approve the final leg of the pipeline, which is planned to run from the oil sands in Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
Legal hurdles, however, have delayed consideration of the project.
It remains a thorny issue for Democrats, who must balance environmental issues with energy development.
Hickenlooper went on to say of the proposed pipeline project, “It’s worth spending some time trying to figure out how do we get this logjam done and be able to move something forward.
“It’s a political issue,” he continued. “So, aren’t we going to be better served if we could find a solution that allows us to go forward?”