Truth check: Hickenlooper ad targets climate change

Truth Check

DENVER (KDVR) — The Truth Check team continues to look at the candidates and their commercials in the 2020 election. Every advertisement that claims something — we will research and determine if the ads are actually telling the truth.

You can watch our previous “Truth Check” segments here and you can read our criteria and standards here.

The latest Truth Check involves the highly competitive race for one of Colorado’s United States Senate seats. Former Gov. John Hickenlooper is challenging incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner, who’s defending the seat for the first time.

Hickenlooper’s new ad focuses on climate change.

CLAIM #1 

Solar and wind power fight climate change

Exact quote in ad: “Solar power, wind power… This is how we fight climate change. ”

Verdict: True

Reason: Solar and wind power are two ways to fight climate change. The federal government’s own scientists from NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency agree. They say an increase in greenhouse gases is one of the causes of warmer temperatures and some of those gases come from coal, oil and gas. Replacing those energy sources with solar and wind power cuts down on the greenhouse gases and fights climate change.

CLAIM #2

When Hickenlooper was governor, he and others got coal plants shut down and replaced with clean energy

Exact quote in ad: “When I was Governor, we got coal plants shut down and replaced with clean energy.”

Verdict: True

Reason: The key to this claim is “we” – back in 2018 when Hickenlooper was governor, Excel Energy proposed shutting down two coal-fired power plants in Pueblo, about ten years earlier than originally planned. The Public Utilities Commission, that Hickenlooper appointed, approved the plan. Opponents argued it could kill about 80 jobs. But at the same time, Excel promised to invest $2.5 billion in solar and wind energy, along with natural gas, to boost the area’s economy.

CLAIM #3

Washington is ignoring climate change

Exact quote in ad: “In Washington, they’re ignoring climate change.”

Verdict: False

Reason: Federal agencies are investing millions of dollars in clean energy. In fact, this year the Department of Energy offered up to $125 million in grants for solar technology research and last year it invested $100 million in clean coal. And just this month, a bipartisan group of senators agreed on a plan to phase out the production and importation and hydroflourocarbons by 85% in the next 15 years. Those are the chemicals that cool everything from cars to refrigerators. The plan is an amendment on a big bipartisan energy bill. But it’s debatable if Congress will pass it and it’s even more unlikely the president would sign it anytime soon. All that said, the Trump Administration dropped out of the Paris Climate Agreement and rolled back dozens of environmental regulations. This includes one from President Obama that forced automakers to create more fuel efficient cars. Colorado and Denver are both suing the EPA because of that, saying the change increases pollution and decreases air quality.

CLAIM #4

Tax breaks for big oil companies have amounted to $43 billion so far and are set to continue

Exact quote in ad: “Let’s get rid of the $43 billion in tax breaks for big oil.”

Verdict: True

Reason: That money comes from two breaks that are still in effect today. The first started in the mid-1990’s with a law that gives some oil companies a break in royalties for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The senator who pushed for it told the New York Times that the break was supposed to be temporary. But the law ended up allowing companies to sometimes use that break for years, saving them more than $18 billion dollars so far. Meanwhile, the offshore drilling industry contends there was no mistake in the law and the financial breaks have allowed companies to continue to drill. The other $25 billion comes from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. It gave oil and gas companies that money in a one time benefit and cuts their corporate taxes permanently by 14%. Hickenlooper supports eliminating both breaks for oil and gas companies.

CLAIM #5

Clean energy helps protect the planet

Exact quote in ad: “Focus on clean energy instead. That’s how we protect our planet.”

Verdict: True

Reason: Just like the ad’s first claim, an overwhelming majority of climate scientists, including those from NASA and the EPA agree – clean energy reduces greenhouse gases and therefore protects the ozone layer and reduces climate change.

CLAIM #6

Clean energy creates jobs

Exact quote in ad: “And create jobs in the future”

Verdict: True

Reason: Almost 3.3 million Americans work in clean energy and outnumber fossil fuel workers by a 3-1 margin, according to a recent report from Clean Jobs America. And this trend is likely to continue. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says two of america’s fastest growing jobs through 2029 will be in clean energy – wind technicians and solar installers.

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