Fact Check: Did gubernatorial candidate Cary Kennedy switch her position on local fracking bans to win an endorsement from “fracking attorney” Ken Salazar?

Out of Gas


Walker Bragman

Media Publication:

The Intercept

Originally Published On:

June 6, 2018


Out of Gas

Claim #1: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cary Kennedy switched her position on whether cities and localities could enact fracking bans to win Salazar’s endorsement.

Fact: There is no record of Kennedy ever supporting a fracking ban at the state or local level. As the story states: “At a campaign stop at Colorado College in November 2017… Kennedy, a leading candidate in the race for governor, told students that while she did not agree with a statewide fracking ban, she did support giving cities and localities greater regulatory control over the controversial practice.”

The reporter implies she changed that position at an April 11 candidates forum when she said in a “surprise announcement” that she didn’t support allowing localities to ban fracking outright, nor did she favor mandatory state “setbacks” requiring wells to be a certain distance away from homes and businesses.

“I do believe that we need a regulatory environment that protects public health, safety, and welfare first, but allows for the development of the resources,” she said.

Here statements are not inconsistent. She has always said she does not support a fracking ban and never explicitly said she supported allowing local governments to ban oil and gas development, only that she believes in a strong regulatory environment. 

As her campaign is quoted as saying, “Cary has always supported giving local communities the ability to regulate the industry as they do any other industrial operation.” That does not mean she supports giving them the right to enforce a ban.

Rating: Out of gas

Claim #2: Ken Salazar is a fracking lawyer.

Fact: Former U.S. Secretary of the Interior and former Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar has long worked with the oil and gas industry, both as a regulator and now as a partner at WilmerHale, where his focus areas are listed as “energy, environment, natural resources.”

The article dubs him a “fracking attorney.” There is no such thing. Fracking is one part of the oil and gas development process. The term fracking was adopted by anti-fossil fuel groups because it’s an effective sound bite, and as such, it has been used to describe every aspect of development. Some reporters have adopted these talking points and now also indiscriminately apply “fracking” to anything having to do with energy development.  

Rating: Out of gas

Claim #3: Ken Salazar is intervening in Democratic congressional primaries and local races, supporting candidates because they are not anti-oil and gas.

Many Democratic and Republican candidates support the oil and gas industry for a variety of reasons, including the positive impact it has had on the economy. But supporting Democratic candidates who back a strictly regulated oil and gas industry does not mean Salazar is “siding” with candidates only because they support the industry, which is the implication in the article.

Rating: Out of gas