The third in a multi-part series.
Gov. John Hickenlooper was “smitten” with controversial former Environmental Protection Agency director Lisa Jackson, after a speech she delivered in Denver in May 2012, according to emails.
Alan Salazar, Hickenlooper’s Chief Strategy Officer, used his official email address in private communications with James Martin’s personal, unofficial me.com email address to discuss Jackson’s participation at the dinner—and how it might help his boss—and to offer compliments after the event.
“Went well – no ambushes – Lisa was tired but charming. Hickenlooper is smitten with her. She was complimentary of you,” Salazar wrote to Martin in an email the day after the dinner.
That email and others were obtained by the Independence Institute in conjunction with The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Chris Horner, who filed a 2013 Freedom of Information Act seeking emails between Martin, EPA Region 8 administrator, and members of the Hickenlooper administration.
Jackson announced her resignation from her EPA post late in 2012 following revelations that the former administrator used an email alias, “Richard Windsor,” to conduct official business. Martin resigned two months later, stepping down on February 15, 2013, after questions were raised about his own use of personal and unofficial emails to conduct agency business.
Jackson spoke at the Colorado Environmental Coalition’s “Rebel with a Cause” gala on May 24, 2012.
A little more than a week earlier, however, Jackson’s appearance at the CEC dinner appeared in doubt. Salazar repeated an inquiry in an email to Martin pressing to clarify whether the EPA head would be able to attend and to speak at the event.
“Sorry this is so painful. Would it be a good or bad idea to get her by the rebel with a cause event (I think I asked before, but can’t recall your view),” Salazar asked.
Martin replied within minutes.
“Alan – no worries. I think we have decided against dropping by the CEC event. Dinner will have started and there is no formal role for my boss,” Martin declared on May 16.
“And it will already be late eastern time [sic]. HQ has expressed a pretty clear preference for going to dinner so she can get to her room before she crashes from exhaustion,” Martin continued.
But Martin clarified that an appearance—and a brief speech—were not out of the question—if Hickenlooper wanted it to happen.
“All that said, is [sic] this is important for the Governor, we’ll put it back on the table,” Martin wrote.
CEC’s then-executive director, Elise Jones—now a Boulder County Commissioner—introduced Jackson, whom she described as “wicked smart.”
The attendees appeared to share Hickenlooper’s enthusiasm for the agency’s top official.
“How often does the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency just pop in from DC to say hello? She’s here tonight,” Jones said to a standing ovation.
Jones noted that Jackson was already scheduled to have dinner with Hickenlooper when both dropped in on the event. Jackson’s official purpose in Denver was to visit and speak at the Denver School of Science and Technology’s graduation ceremony.
“It’s so rare I get to walk into rooms and know and hear applause that which counters things I hear in the Beltway, which is that average Americans just don’t care about air and water,” Jackson opened.
“I throw Jim’s name around in vain but more I throw your name around a lot, citing your work on ‘Clean Air Clean Jobs,’” Jackson said, thanking Martin and the attendees.
“Congratulations on the hard work on hydraulic fracking, closing the fracking loopholes, and to get more full disclosure of what is being injected during the fracking process,” Jackson said.
Jackson also touted President Barack Obama’s support for extending the wind production tax credit during the 2012 campaign, pushing back against opponents of the government tax incentive.
“And like clockwork, probably within minutes, I would hesitate to guess—before he even said a word—came loyal opposition to say it costs too much and we shouldn’t continue to do that which used to be really good in a private enterprise system, which is encourage things that are good for our country, that make us stronger as a nation, by using our tax code,” Jackson lamented.
Since the May 2012 dinner, Jackson and Martin resigned from the EPA following questions about their email habits while serving in an official capacity at the agency. Meanwhile, Jones, in her new role as county commissioner and anti-fracking activist, challenged Hickenlooper in a 2013 debate on the extraction technique.
But while Jackson praised the efforts of those in attendance at the CEC event, she also offered positive commentary on fracking in her time at the EPA.
In 2011, Jackson told Congress that she was “not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water.” Three months prior to her Denver visit Jackson said, “I think that fracking as a technology is perfectly capable of being clean. I do.”
Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development recently added Martin to their Advisory Committee. They describe their mission as “building awareness regarding the importance of fracking, and its continued role in responsible oil and natural gas development in Colorado.”
Full video of Jackson’s remarks embedded below.
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