Mark Hillman: Udall's u-turn on drilling


Mark Udall's message to Colorado voters is crystal clear: Just tell me want you want to hear, and I'll say it.

Udall is a five-term Democrat congressman, vying for perhaps the country's most hotly contested U.S. Senate seat. He's built his reputation as an uncompromising environmentalist, consistently opposed domestic energy exploration, and blocked construction of new refineries to make American energy supplies more secure.

Now, Udall wants voters to think he's suddenly seen the light.

"We've got to produce our own oil and gas, right here in our country," he says in a new commercial paid for by his U.S. Senate campaign.

Just what Colorado needs: another politician who will sell his soul to attain higher office.

Throughout the years, Udall's record on domestic energy production has been much more dogmatic than pragmatic, more extremist than centrist. He's voted to:

• Block drilling for American oil in Alaska or off shore at least nine times.

• Deny tax deductions for production of U.S. oil and gas, thereby putting American companies at a financial disadvantage versus their competitors in the Middle East, Russia and South America.

• Declare oil cartels such as OPEC to be in violation of U.S. antitrust law, even though most high school seniors - not to mention Members of Congress - are smart enough to know that our laws do not apply to foreign oil companies.

• Oppose making abandoned military bases available for construction of new oil refineries, oblivious to the reality no new American oil refineries have been constructed since 1976, increasing our dependence on foreign refineries.

The Denver Post described Udall's U-turns as "sharp turnarounds for a man who has made the expansion of renewable energy a cornerstone of his career." The Politico, a Washington, D.C.-based journal, called the flip-flop "a clear shift from his previous opposition to such measures."

So, Colorado voters who are fed up with $4-a-gallon gasoline should ask themselves: Why does Mark Udall now claim to support domestic production of oil and gas? And does he truly mean it?

The most obvious answer to the first question is polling. In June and July, Udall held as much as a 10-point lead over his opponent, former Congressman Bob Schaffer. That lead nearly evaporated in two recent surveys.

Sixty percent of Coloradans told a Wall Street Journal poll they're "more likely" to support a candidate who favors easing restrictions on drilling. A Rasmussen poll shows that 65 percent of Coloradans want to make increasing energy production the top priority over reducing energy consumption.

As to the sincerity of Udall's conversion, only the commercial paid for by his senate campaign backs him up. All other evidence suggests that this is a poll-driven conversion of political convenience.

Udall's campaign Web site dwells on developing wind and solar power but says little about developing new sources of oil and gas. Instead, Udall falls back on old liberal canards: "we cannot drill our way to energy security" and "not every place that can support oil drilling should be drilled."

Consider, also, Udall's five-point plan to address increasing gas prices. Four points do nothing to increase domestic energy resources.

A fifth supports drilling off the shore of Cuba but is contained in a Udall-sponsored bill that hasn't even received a congressional hearing since it was introduced more than a year ago.

If Udall were serious about developing domestic energy, wouldn't he have demanded a vote on his own bill before allowing Congress to take its summer vacation? Instead, Udall was campaigning in Colorado when a vote to consider a genuine domestic energy bill fell short by just one vote.

Finally, it would be foolish not to acknowledge that Udall's wife spent 20 years working for Sierra Club, whose Web page features a petition congratulating Speaker Nancy Pelosi for adjourning without bringing oil exploration to a vote.

Mark Udall hasn't changed his stripes. That's great news for his liberal base, but it's bad news for Coloradans who want affordable gas prices.

Mark Hillman is a former Colorado senate majority leader and state treasurer. To read more or comment, go to


rhammel 8 years, 8 months ago


Please DO NOT speak for me. I have been on the opposite end of the spectrum in regards to almost everything you write.

In regards to Mr. Hillman's letter, I just disagree with all of it. In my view, he is just a "swifrtboater" drumming up half truths and innuendos. He forgot to mention that it takes about 10 years from the time a drill is dropped into the ground, before that oil is goes through a refinery.

Remember the old addage: "Fear and superstition will win over science and technology." Hopefully that is about to change.



grannyrett 8 years, 8 months ago

rh, Where do you get your facts? You been listening to the tree huggers to long. From the time the rig leaves the well head, the oil can be in the pipeline within 6 weeks. I have lots of family that works in the shipping process of oil wells.


50cal 8 years, 8 months ago

ten years? what a joke. I've pulled oil while the rig is still drilling on the same pad. udall has voted 34 times against drilling for oil. now he comes out and sayes that we need too? he was asked if he would vote to adjorn the current session of congress or if he would vote to stay. He said he would vote to stay and draft an energy plan. guess what, vote came congress voted to adjorn, it passed by one vote. where was mark udall? he wasn't there, thats right absent. while your paying over $4.00 a gallon he went on vacation early.


Neal Harkner 8 years, 8 months ago

There's plenty of blame to go around for both sides guys and gals. Who made the executive order banning offshore drilling? Bush 41...a Republican. Oil has been steadily rising for 3 years now but it wasn't until people started screaming bloody murder that the aforementioned executive order was lifted. Why wasn't it lifted in 2003 or 2004 when oil first started its runup? Political expedience.

Why is oil going up? 1) Worldwide demand increases. We can't do much about this except conserve. 2) Craptastic dollar. Why's the dollar in the toilet? We had a budget surplus when Clinton left office. The dollar started nosediving when we began deficit spending again thanks in large part to a rubber stamp Republican legislature that spent money like a drunken sailor in a port-of-call. Add in the half trillion dollars we've blown propping up a democracy in Iraq, the couple trillion lost in the subprime meltdown and a BUTTLOAD of personal debt and it's no surprise the dollar is worthless.

The good news - OPEC has readjusted their demand figures downward for next year. Less demand = lower price of oil. Why less demand? The worldwide economy is slowing down and headed for recession, only this time the .com bust is going to be a party in comparison.


50cal 8 years, 8 months ago

dont ever apologize pat. This has been perpetuated by both sides. Neal is right, the republicans sat on their hands for years instead of coming up with a solution. severe headaches huh? well my friend talk to me and we will see what we can do about that.


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