Pro-Fracking Dem John Hickenlooper Hires Firm That Rebranded BP

2020 candidate who said 'fracking is good' hires firm that moved oil giant 'beyond petroleum'

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper / Getty Images
December 17, 2018

The firm hired to poll-test the feasibility of a presidential run for Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, an environmental outcast on the left due to his pro-fracking stance, is the same firm that successfully rebranded oil giant BP as a green company moving "beyond petroleum."

Hickenlooper is openly pondering joining the 2020 presidential field—he launched a new political organization, Giddy Up PAC, and has begun to staff up, according to the Associated Press. The most notable hiring thus far has been Anna Greenberg of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, a public relations firm with an extensive list of clients in both the political and corporate world.

Amongst the firm's most high-profile campaigns was its rebranding of BP, work that is highlighted on the company website.

BP, facing the public relations nightmare caused by its environmental problems, brought in Greenberg Quinlan Rosner to "improve its market position by re-branding itself as a company focused on transcending the energy-environment paradox and developing renewable and low-carbon energy sources—making BP into a company going 'Beyond Petroleum,'" the firm explains.

Now it is Hickenlooper who needs to improve his market position in the Democratic field.

Hickenlooper's biggest obstacle—beyond the fact that a Friday poll showed his support at less than 1 percent—is his stated view that "fracking is good." The petroleum geologist once even drank Halliburton fracking fluid to prove that it's environmentally safe.

Hickenlooper's pro-fracking stance has long been a problem for liberal activists. In 2016, environmentalists sprung into action at the mere mention of Hickenlooper's name as a potential Interior Department appointment by Hillary Clinton. A Colorado political operative said earlier this year that his environmental stances make him "virtually unnominatable."

Neither Hickenlooper's campaign nor Greenberg Quinlan Rosner responded to requests for comment on whether an environmental rebranding would be attempted.

Hickenlooper will not announce his presidential run until at least January when his gubernatorial term concludes.

The conventional wisdom is that Hickenlooper would be an effective general election candidate for Democrats, but that he would have trouble gaining traction in a primary due to his stance on issues such as fracking.

His positions will be hard to backtrack on. He states clearly in his memoir that his experience in the industry taught him that fracking was a safe way to extract resources.

"Based on experience and science, I recognized that fracking was one of our very best and safest extraction techniques," he wrote in words that have been highlighted by the oil and gas industry.

"Fracking is good for the country’s energy supply, our national security, our economy, and our environment."