Nearly a dozen environmental groups sent a letter to Hillary Clinton this week asking that she appoint “a proven climate champion” to head the Interior Department and specifically calling out Gov. John Hickenlooper as someone who doesn’t meet that criteria.
“Because we must protect communities and the climate by keeping at least 80% of the world’s proven fossil fuels in the ground, the appointment of Secretary of Interior is critical,” the letter reads.
“The Secretary of the Interior will have a crucial role in moving the federal leasing program in-line with our broader national climate goals, recognizing that state and regional Bureau of Land Management offices cannot remain unchecked. It will require surveying the entire program and changing the culture of this federal agency so that it serves future generations, not just fossil fuel interests.”
The letter comes from Greenpeace USA, Climate Hawks Vote, 350.org, Rainforest Action Network, Oil Change International, Environmental Action, WildEarth Guardians, and Friends of the Earth Action. Colorado Rising, 350 Colorado, and Frack Free Colorado also signed the letter.
Interior is a post associated with Colorado politicians. Ken Salazar, who is leading Clinton’s transition team, is a former secretary of Interior and former Colorado senator. It’s a post with a lot of power to set policy on exploitation of resources on public lands, and it hasn’t traditionally gone to the staunchest environmentalists.
Hickenlooper’s name has been floated for Interior ever since he was vetted for the vice presidential position, and it’s been clear he would be a controversial choice with the progressive wing of the party for his ties to the oil and gas industry. For example, he had the state sue towns that tried to ban fracking or regulate it locally.
Hickenlooper tried to implement Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan here before the U.S. Supreme Court blocked it, and he’s considering an executive order to do a state version of the plan, which would set aggressive targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. However, that doesn’t assuage some environmentalists who look at his record on drilling.
“Governor Hickenlooper actively opposes key environmental positions that you support, and has a history of siding with the fossil fuel industry over the people who elected him,” the letter says. “Governor Hickenlooper opposes community control over oil and gas operations, going as far as to sue communities trying to protect their air and water from being poisoned by oil and gas waste.
“Further, Governor Hickenlooper publicly opposes the restoration of the rights of communities to vote on oil and gas resource exploitation occurring around them.”
You can read the entire letter here.