Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper went to unusually great lengths to learn firsthand the strides the oil and gas industry has made to minimize environmental harm from fracking.
The first-term Democrat and former Denver mayor told a Senate committee on Tuesday that he actually drank a glass of fracking fluid produced by oilfield services giant Halliburton.
The fluid is made entirely "of ingredients sourced from the food industry," the company says, making it safe for Mr. Hickenlooper and others to imbibe.
"You can drink it. We did drink it around the table, almost rituallike, in a funny way," he told the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. "It was a demonstration. … they've invested millions of dollars in what is a benign fluid in every sense."
Sen. Al Franken, Minnesota Democrat, found humor in the governor's admission and asked if the experience was part of some bizarre occult practice.
"No, there were no religious overtures," Mr. Hickenlooper responded.
While some laughed at the governor's statement, he brought up the incident to make a serious point: that oil and gas companies have taken major steps forward in fracking technology.
The practice uses water, sand and chemicals injected into the ground at tremendous pressure to break apart rock formations and release fuel. Environmental groups and many other critics long have been concerned about the chemicals used in the practice and their potential effect on groundwater.
Mr. Hickenlooper stressed that the Halliburton food additive mixture is so safe, one can literally drink it. He also cautioned against state and federal lawmakers going too far with laws to force companies such as Halliburton to disclose the formulas for such products.
"If we were overzealous in forcing them to disclose what they had created, they wouldn't bring it into our state," he sai