The origins of Vital for Colorado can be traced back to the energy advocacy work of the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce. In the late 2000s, the chamber helped launch the Clean Tech Open in the Rocky Mountain region to promote Colorado as a destination for renewable energy investment. After that success, which continues today as an independent organization, the South Metro Denver Chamber turned its attention to the rest of the state’s energy sector and how it supports the overall economy and business community.
“We sat around the table and talked about how a vibrant economy depends upon reliable energy from all sources,” recalls John Brackney, the CEO of the chamber at the time and a founding board member of Vital for Colorado. “In addition to promoting renewables, we decided to also promote the traditional sources that still provide most of our energy, especially oil and natural gas.”
These discussions among the members of the board of directors of South Metro Denver Chamber board resulted in a statement of oil and gas principles called “Open for Business.” At the time, Peter Moore (a co-founding board member and current President and CEO of Vital for Colorado) was both a board member of and legal counsel to the South Metro Denver Chamber. Mr. Moore was a drafter of this document. Published in September 2012, the statement of principles concluded that “[a] thriving oil and gas sector is key to the future economic prosperity of Colorado.” In addition to “expanding the availability of wind, solar, and other renewable forms of energy,” the statement of principles urged policymakers in Colorado to “show an equal commitment to traditional forms of energy and to the benefits of the State’s vast oil and gas resources.” As part of that commitment, economic and political leaders should “tout Colorado not only as a place where energy leaders can drill in a clear and consistent regulatory environment, but also as a place where energy companies can establish corporate headquarters and regional offices,” the chamber’s board of directors said.
In May 2013, the South Metro Denver Chamber followed through on the “Open for Business” statement of principles by leading a trade delegation to Houston, Texas, to meet with senior executives at some of the world’s largest oil and gas companies. The trade delegation was designated by Governor Hickenlooper as Colorado’s trade delegation on energy. In addition to John Brackney, the trade delegation included Peter Moore (the future chairman of Vital for Colorado); Josh Penry, a former Colorado state senator and a principal with EIS Solutions (the firm that has provided staff support to Vital for Colorado since its inception); Gayle Dendinger, President and CEO of Cap Logistics (and a future board member of Vital for Colorado), and eight other Colorado business leaders.
“In Houston we realized our informal pro-business coalition on energy issues should have its own identity and structure,” Moore recalls. “We also saw the need to move urgently in light of the increased activity of national anti-oil and gas groups in Colorado.
Soon after their return to Denver, the leaders of the trade mission established a new non-profit organization – Vital for Colorado – to continue their work. One of Vital for Colorado’s first projects was revamping the chamber’s “Open for Business” statement into a seven-principle pledge for citizens, business owners and elected officials. By endorsing the pledge, Coloradans would join the Vital for Colorado coalition and show their support for continued oil and natural gas development in our state.
More than 70,000 people and organizations have taken the pledge and joined our coalition since then. We have also attracted financial support from over one hundred donors, large and small, who believe our energy economy is vital to Colorado’s entire economy.
If you haven’t already, please take a look at the Vital for Colorado pledge and consider joining our coalition. Likewise, if you are interested in financially supporting our work, please consider making a contribution.