In the News
The attacks on the oil and gas industry continue. A CU-Boulder researcher released a study that, according to a Denver Post article, "contends that people living within 500 feet of an oil and gas facility have a lifetime excess cancer risk eight times higher than the upper limit set by the Environmental Protection Agency. What that means is that breathing the air near an oil and gas well for years at a time places people at additional risk of developing cancer above normal rates, according to the study."
To the uninitiated, the conclusions asserted by the study are frightening and have served as a renewed rallying call for those opposed to oil and natural gas development.
Thankfully, the study's conclusions don't hold water when put under scrutiny. Says who?
Remember the 2,500-foot drilling setback pushed by national “keep it in the ground” groups 350.org, Food & Water Watch, Sierra Club and Greenpeace in 2016? It was exposed as a de facto statewide ban on oil and natural gas development by the Hickenlooper administration, and ultimately failed to make the ballot.
Two years later, the same groups are back again, but this time they are trying to sidestep the Hickenlooper administration’s damning assessment of a drilling ban within 2,500 feet of buildings and a long list of other locations chosen by the activists.
In the new versions of the ballot measures – Initiative 97 and the closely related Initiative 163 – the activists have made some changes designed to confuse the public and hide their real intentions. In one section, the ballot measures say the 2,500-foot setback applies to oil and natural gas development “not on federal land,” and in another section, it says the setback applies to “all new oil and gas development in the State of Colorado.”
We decided to explore the impacts of this year’s ballot measures, even if federal land is actually excluded – which is far from clear given the confusing language of initiatives 97 and 163. We talked to experts in Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping technology and oil and natural gas geology and developed a preliminary view of how the energy-producing areas of the state would be impacted.
Energy resources are concentrated in particular geological formations – better known as basins – rather than being evenly distributed underground. For this reason, we focused our attention on the six major oil and gas producing basins in Colorado.
Here’s the map we developed along with the percentage of each basin that would be subject to bans on new drilling and the redevelopment of older locations with newer technologies.
They say you shouldn’t talk politics, religion or money in polite company. We disagree. We believe that controversial issues deserve collaborative and innovative problem solving working to keep Colorado as one of the best places to live. The Bighorn Energy Leadership Fellows spent eight days together this fall doing exactly that over three meals a day, presentations from 31 local and international experts, and one improv comedy show. We stayed polite and disagreed without being disagreeable.
We are Coloradans from across the political spectrum, hailing from around the state, ranging from college student to near retirement, and working in a variety of sectors. We are members of the 2017 cohort of Bighorn Leadership Program: Colorado’s Energy Future. The Bighorn Leadership Program was founded in 2001 to ensure that Colorado has a deep bench of thoughtful individuals who will actively and constructively engage in the public policy arena both on the local and state levels.
Tom Steyer is back in Colorado politics. Well, actually, he never really left.
Anyone who follows politics in our state should know Steyer well. He’s the environmental activist and California hedge-fund billionaire who spent more than $7 million on a failed campaign against U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R) in 2014. He poured at least $2 million more into Colorado politics in 2016, spending big on the presidential election and another failed campaign to seize control of the Colorado state legislature.
For years, national anti-oil and gas groups have attempted a hostile takeover of Colorado politics. They have tried to turn Democrats and Republicans against one of the state’s most important economic sectors — an industry that provides energy for every business and every household across Colorado, not to mention thousands upon thousands of jobs.
The anti-oil and gas campaign gets plenty of press attention, certainly, but it’s been a failure so far. Groups like 350.org in New York and Food & Water Watch in Washington, D.C., have never succeeded in placing anti-oil and gas measures on Colorado’s statewide ballot, much less winning a statewide campaign here. With a few exceptions, they aren’t taken seriously by state lawmakers. And their so-called victories have been confined almost completely to Boulder County and its suburbs — not the best platform for a statewide campaign.
The more things change, the more they stay the same — especially if you’re in the business of running anti-oil and gas campaigns in Colorado.
In late December, a coalition of environmental activist groups announced the introduction of a statewide ballot measure targeting Colorado’s energy sector. “We’re doing this for a second time,” said campaign spokesperson Suzanne Spiegel. “We learned a ton last time, and that’s why we’re doing it again.”
The interview was unusually candid. Quite possibly, the interview subject — one of the nation’s top environmental activists — forgot he was on the record.
“New injunctions … and new bad press take a terrible toll on agency morale,” he said, describing his group’s legal and political tactics against environmental regulators. “They feel like their careers are being mocked and destroyed — and they are.”
Vital For Colorado Opposes Solar Import Tariffs, Urges ‘Pro-Business Policies For All Energy Sources’
DENVER (Nov. 20, 2017) – In response to proposed tariffs and price floors on imported crystalline-silicone solar products, Vital for Colorado submitted the following comments to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:
We are writing on behalf of Vital for Colorado, a coalition of more than 70,000 local business leaders, elected officials and citizens focused on energy policy. Our organization works to maintain a pro-business climate in Colorado by promoting and defending one of our state’s most important economic engines – oil and natural gas development.
We are, however, an organization with an “all of the above” approach to energy. In fact, the origins of Vital for Colorado can be traced back to the renewable energy advocacy work of the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce in the late 2000s. After successfully promoting Colorado as a destination for renewable energy investment, the members of our coalition turned their attention to attracting and retaining investment in the state’s longstanding oil and natural gas sector.
National environmental groups have a First Amendment right to campaign at any level of government they choose – federal, state or local – just as the business community, energy workers and regular citizens have free-speech rights to oppose these campaigns.
For the record, I work on the pro-business side of the street with a group that opposes many of these environmental campaigns because they divide our communities and threaten real harm to Colorado’s economy. I make no secret of it.