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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rep. Jared Polis' anti-fracking crusade riles Colorado

Multimillionaire draws ire of fellow Democrats, oil and gas industry

DENVERRep. Jared Polis and his personal fortune were instrumental in helping Democrats wrest control of Colorado from Republicans, but now Democrats fear that he may jeopardize everything they’ve worked for with his anti-fracking crusade.

The multimillionaire Democratic congressman from Boulder is sponsoring two ballot measures targeting hydraulic fracturing, and, in doing so, he’s awakened a powerful foe that has even more money than he does: the state’s oil and gas industry.

If Initiatives 88 and 89 gather enough signatures by Aug. 4 to qualify for the November ballot, analysts say the ensuing political bloodbath could wipe out the Democrats’ gains over the past decade by boosting pro-fracking Republicans and endangering the re-election bids of Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and Sen. Mark Udall.

The situation worsened last week for Democrats after the pro-fracking Mr. Hickenlooper abandoned his push for a special legislative session, which was aimed at convincing Mr. Polis to drop his initiatives in exchange for a compromise bill giving localities more authority over the industry.

“If there’s no compromise coming, [Mr. Polis] is going to end up doing this,” said Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli. “He’s going to be the financier of a group of people who will spend every waking moment criticizing the governor. That is so utterly unbelievable for a person who is ambitious in the Democratic Party.”


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