In the News
A national anti-fracking group has produced a new instruction manual for activists in Colorado, telling them how to use the passage of SB-181 to shut down oil and gas permitting at the local and state level.
The new effort, led by the Colorado chapter of New York-based 350.org, shows that the oil and gas wars will not end unless Governor Jared Polis publicly rejects the “ban fracking” and “keep it in the ground” agenda and senior officials in his administration approve new drilling permits.
The “community toolkit” produced by 350 Colorado coaches activists on how to pass temporary bans at the local level. The toolkit also links to a “talking points” document calling on Governor Polis, Attorney General Phil Weiser and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to “keep fossil fuels in the ground” and “stop issuing permits,” among other regulatory demands.
Colorado Business Leaders Write to Denver Post Demanding Retraction of False Claims in Energy Coverage
April 23, 2019 – Earlier this month, the Denver Post published a demonstrably false news story that claimed newly developed oil and gas wells are polluting the state’s air in a completely uncontrolled manner for months after they start production. On April 12, several business leaders who serve on the Vital for Colorado board wrote to the Denver Post demonstrating the factual errors in the story and explaining why a retraction was warranted.
Since then, the head of the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division has gone public with his objections to the story, which is about emission regulations during the first 90 days of production from newly drilled oil and gas wells. In testimony before the Air Quality Control Commission, APCD director Garry Kaufman said:
“I think it’s misleading to suggest that these facilities are high-emitting … I just don’t think that’s factually accurate. … We have gone out in response … and done inspections at all of these sites that they have identified and have found that in each and every instance they had the required control equipment, it was operating properly, and there weren’t emissions issues. … This has been kind of trying on my staff, to be dragged through the mud on this one.”
We waited more than a week for a substantive answer from the Post. Despite the clear misrepresentations in the story and a public rebuke from the state’s top air quality regulator, the newspaper’s editor has refused our request.
To ensure this episode isn’t swept under the rug, we are publishing our retraction request so members of the public can decide for themselves. A PDF of the letter can be found here and the text of the letter can be read below.
REPORT: Oil and gas generates more than $600 million per year in revenue for K-12 and higher education
Oil and gas generates more than $600 million per year in revenue for K-12 and higher education in Colorado, new research shows
Key state lawmakers warn “we cannot ignore the contributions of oil and gas” and “how many people in Colorado are employed in this industry.”
Denver Pipefitters Local 208: “Positive changes in energy policy are possible – we just have to keep in mind all the connections between the energy sector and other things we care about, including good public schools and good jobs.”
DENVER (Jan. 29, 2019) – Colorado’s oil and natural gas industry generates more than $600 million per year on average in taxes and other public revenues for K-12 and higher education, reinforcing recent comments from legislators and other stakeholders about the importance of the energy sector to our state. Hostile measures against oil and gas development – as opposed to constructive regulatory improvements – will cut existing budgets for public schools and jeopardize plans for new investments such as higher teacher pay and expanded full-day kindergarten.
Those are the central findings of a new analysis from Vital for Colorado titled Books, Buildings and BTUs: The $600 Million Connection Between Public Education and Colorado’s Energy Sector. The 13-page briefing (available for download here) examines the biggest and easiest to identify oil and gas funding sources for K-12 and higher education in Colorado, one of the nation’s largest energy producing states. These sources include property taxes, state-owned mineral development, and taxes paid by tens of thousands of energy workers and their employers.
Conservatively, these diverse revenue streams poured more than $3.3 billion into K-12 and higher education between FY 2012-13 and FY 2016-17. During the same five-year period, the annual average from these revenue streams was $669 million per year. Importantly, these totals do not include severance tax revenues, which are used to support other public projects and services.
Late last year, the U.S. government updated its state-level energy rankings. Colorado is the fifth largest producer of oil in the country, just ahead of Alaska and California, and sixth in natural gas.
This may be news to some, but Colorado has always been a major energy-producing state. The Denver-Julesburg Basin and Southern Colorado’s Raton Basin, for example, have produced oil and gas for decades. Equally important, Colorado also leads the nation in protecting the environment and public health.
Sweeping reforms started by Gov. Bill Ritter and continued by Gov. John Hickenlooper — both Democrats — dramatically tightened oil and regulations across the board, from the location of wells, to air quality controls, to local involvement in the permitting process, and more.
Today Colorado has “the most stringent set of state regulations governing oil and gas extraction,” Ritter said last year before co-chairing the transition team for Democratic Gov. Jared Polis.
How was this possible?
Newspaper editorial boards around the state agree that Proposition 112 is too extreme and bad for Colorado. See what they're saying...
"With such a ban would come an exodus of oil and gas companies from the state, the high-paying jobs they create directly and indirectly, and the taxes they pay to state and local governments."
"Of all the issues on the statewide ballot for the November election, Proposition 112 seems to be generating some of the most vocal opposition. There’s a simple reason for this: It’s a bad idea."
"But the one-size-fits-all approach to setbacks — 2,500 feet regardless of circumstances and community values — is not appropriate for Colorado."
"Prop 112 would impose 2,500-foot setbacks for oil and gas operations, killing the industry in Colorado and ending more than 147,000 jobs over the next 10 years. Nearly 75 percent of lost jobs would be outside the oil and gas industry."
"The devastating impacts of 112 on the state's oil and gas industry are well-established by now. New drilling would come to a screeching halt in the most productive areas of Colorado, particularly the Denver-Julesberg Basin near Greeley. According to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, about 85 percent of Colorado's non-federal land would be excluded from development with the required 2,500-foot setback."
"What Proposition 112 would do is cost the state thousands of jobs and the economy billions of dollars. It also would create tremendous amounts of uncertainty that would permeate the economy and last for a long time.
It’s for these reasons, we think, that leaders of disparate political backgrounds — like gubernatorial candidates Walker Stapleton and Jared Polis — all think Proposition 112 is a bad idea."
State Rep. Joe Salazar, attorney and spokesman for the Proposition 112 campaign, said the following at a small rally outside the State Capitol on Saturday:
“The oil and gas industry needs to be looked at as an immoral industry … It has no business here in the state of Colorado. Our state will be fine without them.”
These disgraceful comments deserve immediate condemnation from political leaders and candidates across the spectrum. Calling tens of thousands of energy workers immoral, saying they have no right to live here, and declaring our state will be fine without them is shameful, dishonest and extreme.
These are decent men and women with families, and thanks to their hard work, we can heat our homes in the winter, drive our cars and keep the lights on year-round, along with so many other modern conveniences that support our way of life. Colorado energy workers are also our friends, neighbors and family members, contributing in countless ways to their communities and our state. But to the Proposition 112 campaign, they are bad people who should be kicked out of our state.
Rep. Salazar’s comments and the cheers he received from Prop 112 activists expose yet again what the Proposition 112 campaign is all about. For all their denials about trying to ban new drilling in Colorado and all their deceptive talking points, Rep. Salazar’s gaffe reveals the truth: Proposition 112 is just an extension of the “ban fracking everywhere” and “keep it in the ground” campaigns of Food & Water Watch in Washington, D.C. and 350.org in New York.
These fringe national groups are heavily supporting Proposition 112 is because they know it will effectively ban new drilling in Colorado and drive the oil and gas sector out of our state, along with tens of thousands of working families. They would call that a huge victory, but the losses for our state would be massive, including almost 150,000 jobs destroyed, a $7-9 billion in shortfall in state and local tax revenue for schools and other essential services, and roughly $200 billion in economic losses over the next decade.
For months, a wave of opposition has been building against Proposition 112. High-profile opponents include both gubernatorial candidates, Jared Polis and Walker Stapleton, and the Denver Post editorial board, which said Prop 112 “is written in such a way as to effectively ban oil and gas operations.”
But the community-level opposition to Prop 112 is also overwhelming, as shown by the turnout at dozens of rallies and other events all across the state. Energy workers, citizens and community representatives have turned out by the thousands to defend a critical sector of our economy and a major source of public revenue for schools and other essential government services.
More than 30 civic and business groups vow to defeat Prop 112 as opposition to job-destroying ballot measure grows
More than 30 civic and business groups vow to defeat Prop 112 as opposition to job-destroying ballot measure grows
“The intent of this proposal is to in-effect ban almost all oil and gas production in Colorado.” – Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce
“More than three quarters of the jobs destroyed by this ballot measure will come from outside the state’s oil and natural gas sector … That is why you are seeing the business community working so hard to defeat this measure.” – Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry
“The economic damage from Proposition 112 could literally trigger a recession in Colorado, and our coalition will make sure voters fully understand the consequences of this deceptively written ballot measure.” – NFIB Colorado
DENVER (Sept. 12) – The coalition to defeat Proposition 112 continues to grow, with more than 30 civic and business groups and dozens of current and former elected officials vowing to defeat the economically destructive ballot measure pushing by national “keep it in the ground” groups.
The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, Club 20, the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, the Colorado Municipal League and the Colorado chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business are some of the latest groups to formally announce their opposition to Proposition 112. They join a massive bipartisan coalition that includes both candidates for governor, Jared Polis and Walker Stapleton.
Investors: Don’t buy what political activists are trying to sell you in Colorado.
I’m surprised this reminder is even necessary, given how anti-oil and gas ballot measures collapsed in 2014 and 2016. But according to the Denver Business Journal, this month’s signature submittal for anti-oil and gas Initiative 97 “rattled some investors,” with a $3 billion drop in the combined market value of some of Colorado’s largest energy companies observed in the days afterward.
To be clear, $3 billion is roughly 5 percent of the combined market capitalization of these firms, so it’s nothing they can’t bounce back from. But the nature of this knee-jerk reaction is surprising nonetheless. It ignores a whole host of fundamentals – specifically, the longstanding hurdles facing any ballot measure targeting the oil and gas industry in Colorado.