Hickenlooper Touts Himself as First Pres. Candidate to Oppose Green New Deal

John Hickenlooper / Getty Images
March 26, 2019

Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is touting himself as the first Democratic presidential candidate in the field to openly oppose the ‘Green New Deal,’ a set of environmental policies introduced in resolution form intended to combat climate change.

The candidate’s press team sent out a release on the heels of an op-ed in the Washington Post from Hickenlooper which said, "The resolution sets unachievable goals. We do not have the technology needed to reach 'net-zero greenhouse emissions' in 10 years."

Since its introduction, the Green New Deal has been one of the hottest political footballs on Capitol Hill, due in large part to the fact the set of proposals are born from the office of Democratic freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.).

Shortly after a draft of the deal was released through Ocasio-Cortez's office, Republicans were quickly highlighting portions of the proposal they thought were inefficient, unachievable, out of touch, or ridiculous. The draft was later pulled amidst much confusion.

The GOP became so eager to debate the issue Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to bring the resolution to the senate floor for a vote in order to get Democrats on the record about their support.

Hickenlooper's op-ed appeared to contradict the notion that the first iteration of the idea came from Ocasio-Cortez and other sponsors.

"That is why I support the concept of a Green New Deal — the idea that we should launch multiple major federal initiatives to tackle climate change and reorient our economy around clean energy," Hickenlooper wrote. "The idea has been around for at least a decade and will be one of my highest priorities as president."

"The Ocasio-Cortez-Markey resolution gives government the dominant role on investment decisions, but most of the gains we have seen in recent years on renewable energy have come from entrepreneurs and companies responding to incentives from the market and the federal government, not bending to federal mandates," he argued later in the op-ed.

He did claim that Ocasio-Cortez was responsible for "galvanizing the country around climate change as never before[.]"

During his two terms as Colorado governor, Hickenlooper often infuriated progressives and environmentalists for his light-touch administrative approach to oil and gas.

And currently, the Colorado General Assembly controlled by Democrats is pushing through a new set of regulations which some see as a rebuke of sorts to Hickenlooper's tenure.

Senate Democrats tweeted were "It’s time for change that puts the health & safety of Coloradans first. #coleg #copolitics #ReformCOGCC"

Local TV news anchor Kyle Clark noted, "This is awkward for @Hickenlooper, who launched his presidential campaign this week with a video touting his tough oil & gas reforms. #copolitics #coleg #9NEWS"

Hickenlooper also once boasted that he had taken a "swig" of the fluid used in hydraulic fracturing drilling, also known as fracking, to show that it wasn't harmful.

While on the campaign trail in New Hampshire in February but prior to the official announcement of his candidacy, the former geologist attempted to strike a middle ground when asked about the Green New Deal.

"I think, from what I've seen of the list, the different aspects and, and in the initiatives that are kind of collected in the green deal, the new green deal, are powerful, and useful," he told a house party in Manchester. "I think the key is to sit down and look [at] which one goes first. And which ones might go a little later, 'cause it is going to be a question of priorities. We're not going to have endless amounts of money," he said.

Fellow candidate Howard Schultz may want to contest Hickenlooper's claim to being "first" to oppose the Green New Deal, however.

In an interview with Fox Business Network, Schulz told host Maria Bartiromo, "Capitalism has created more jobs, lifted more people out of poverty."

"And when I talk about the Green New Deal, I agree with you [Maria] and I agree with your viewers—the Green New Deal is not the answer. We can’t afford the $30, $40, $50 trillion dollars of fantasy with regard to piling that kind of money on top of a $22 trillion debt."

Schultz's statement may have slightly edged out Hickenlooper.