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 thousands of jobs. However, the proliferation of wells and their location near Front Range communities is generating conflict. A shift in political power in 2019 led to a host of new regulations through Senate Bill 181, and some environmental activists want to go further with a ballot initiative to increase the buffer between communities and drilling operations.
A long-time defender of fracking
A: Hickenlooper has long supported fracking and he has sidestepped questions about his defense of the industry in the past. He argues that prohibiting drilling in Colorado would shift more drilling out of state and will not help drive down global greenhouse gas emissions. But he does support 100% renewable energy by 2050, which would essentially shut down the oil and gas industry.
Supports a ban on fracking
A: Romanoff has expressed concerns about fracking, particularly so close to homes and neighborhoods, and wants to see the practice end. He is backing the Green New Deal proposal, which would work to replace fracked gas, coal, and other fossil fuels with enough clean energy to meet all electricity needs by 2035. This means banning all fracking and ending the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure.
Background: The political conversation in the Democratic Party is focused on renewable energy, but reaching 100% would require major changes at the regulatory and consumer level. 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. The national picture looks similar. Achieving the goal will mean financial pain for a fossil fuel industry that employs more than 30,000 workers in the state, among oil, gas and coal. Colorado’s Democratic governor set a goal to reach 100% renewable energy by 2040.
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.
To achieve the transition, Hickenlooper wants a large-scale government-funded climate technology research, development and demonstration. He supports reinventing America’s transportation system by adding more electric-vehicle charging stations, increasing America’s electric grid efficiency and intelligence, raising fuel economy standards and improving the energy efficiency of buildings. 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.
Supports net-zero emissions by 2040
A: As a supporter of the Green New Deal, Romanoff backs plans to cut in half the total greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors, including transportation, industry and construction by 2030; replace fracked gas, coal and other fossil fuels with clean energy sources by 2035; and reach net-zero greenhouse gas emission by 2040. His campaign laid out a multi-step plan to achieve the goals, including ending fossil fuel industry subsidies and putting a price on carbon. Romanoff has previously backed measures to protect the quality of Colorado’s air and water, bring wind power to schools and spur large-scale solar projects, biomass development and geothermal research.
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.
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.
Supports the Green New Deal
A: In the race, Romanoff has called the Green New Deal the heart of his campaign. He says climate change is “a clear and present danger to life on Earth.” And he’s called for urgent action, including the creation of a New Deal-esque Civilian Conservation Corps to help speed the transition to renewable energy in America.