On energy policy, Governor-elect John Hickenlooper is perhaps the most masterful politician I’ve ever encountered.
Coal, climate change, costs…these matters engender passions. They get people riled up. So it’s an awesome political trick that Hickenlooper has been elected mayor of this country’s finest city, and then governor of this country’s finest state, without revealing what he thinks on energy policy.
Hick’s record is maddeningly equivocal. He’s a geologist, who used to work in the hydrocarbon business, so you know he has the experience to be serious. Yet his energy legacy as Denver mayor is a silly, toothless Climate Action Plan, designed primarily for grandstanding.
On the campaign trail, Hickenlooper let on nothing. First he said that Governor Bill Ritter’s heavy handed 2008 regulations on oil and gas drilling were excessive, but then he said he supported the regulations in an oped in the Grand Junction Sentinel.
He told a group of oil and gas executives that he was “agnostic” when it comes to what goes into the state’s energy portfolio. This non-committal claim is supported by his campaign website, which simply lists all energy sources–coal, solar, wind, gas, etc.–and discusses how great they are.
Now that he’s been elected, Hickenlooper seems intent on continuing his impressive run of being everything to everyone on energy policy. This week, the Governor-elect appointed Tanuj “TJ” Deora to run the Governor’s Energy Office. In its short history, the GEO has been an inconsequential office, serving primarily to stroke Bill Ritter’s ego. Nonetheless, I was hoping that Hick’s selection would shed some light on what he’s thinking on energy.
It didn’t. TJ Deora is a wind energy executive, but before that, he was a chemical energy for a natural gas company. Mind you, wind and natural gas are fierce competitors on the wholesale electricity market. Although the choice of Mr. Deora has been met with approval by the environmentalist community, his disparate background reveals nothing about Hickenlooper.
William Yeatman is an energy policy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.