Colorado governor ready to fight ‘half-cocked’ feds from changing state rules |

Colorado governor ready to fight ‘half-cocked’ feds from changing state rules

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper speaking at the Aspen Ideas festival on June 28, 2017 at the Aspen Institute.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times |

John Hickenlooper has 375 days remaining as governor of Colorado, and during his annual holiday trip to Aspen the 65-year-old, term-limited governor said he’s going to work to keep the federal government from meddling in Colorado.

Hickenlooper, who was at the Aspen Art Museum for a charity fundraiser Thursday night, said what Colorado has done in environmental protections, especially with the oil and gas industry, is a model of how things can be accomplished on a state level. His administration created the first methane regulations in America, and Hickenlooper worries about how that might be perceived by the Trump administration.

“We’re still the only state that has such rigorous regulations. Some half-cocked official in Washington might decide they want to make an example of that and say it’s too much regulation,” Hickenlooper said. “We’ve worked hard to go through all the regulations to get rid of all the deadwood, the red tape, the bureaucracy and have lean, efficient regulation that actually helps businesses to succeed.

“I don’t want the federal government to come in and tell us what we created between business and the nonprofit communities isn’t good anymore because it doesn’t fit their political paradigm.”

He said states no longer can wait on the federal government for help, especially as the county grows economically and in population.

“I’m not sure the federal government is going to be much of a partner as we look at solving all the problems of our growth,” he said. “We’re going to have to solve them ourselves.”

Hickenlooper, who was the mayor of Denver before being elected governor in 2010, said Colorado can be a national model for things such as affordable housing. He said the state is trying to find more money to “augment” the issue, but it ultimately comes down to the local level.

Using the Roaring Fork Valley as an example, Hickenlooper suggested communities have to work on what’s best for them, but work together.

He said the decline in affordable housing around the state is the consequence of a successful economy.

“You go to Seattle now and there are tent cities,” he said. “Go to San Francisco, anywhere that has a strong economy. It’s an unavoidable consequence of economic success. It does not mean you turn your back on it. I think Colorado has to help provide the vision to what solutions look like. … You don’t want the state coming into Pitkin County and saying ‘that’s where you’re going to put affordable housing.’”

Communities have to find the balance between the not-in-my-backyard mentality and understanding that those who work in a community should be able to live there as well, he said.

“Here, it’s a consequence of economic growth and the intrinsic beauty down the whole valley,” Hickenlooper said. “Each community has to figure out their own way, but you just can’t keep pushing it down the valley.”

From now until the next governor is inaugurated on Jan. 8, 2019, Hickenlooper said his administration will work to be a leader on the state level. After that, he just wants to be useful.

“There is a wonderful poem by a woman named Marge Piercy called ‘To Be of Use.’ I’m going to look for a good way to be of use,” he said of life outside the governor’s office. “I’ve got another year or 370 days or something like that. We’re going to finish strong. We’re going to push on the places where we think Colorado should be a national model.

“If you’re talking about affordable housing or traffic congestion and figuring out how Interstate 70 and Interstate 25 can be conduits for the future — probably more of those resources are going to have to come from us.”

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