Anti Oil and Gas petitions for Initiative 78 and Initiate 75 have been turned into the Secretary of State’s office for review and verification. This process could take up to 30 days to determine if they will be on the ballot.
In reviewing some recent news articles and opinions related to the effort that calls itself “The Yes for Health and Safety campaign” some observations are important.
It appears some of the greatest advocates for these anti-energy proposals, come out of Boulder, which does not have any, or very little oil and gas production. I am always fascinated by activists who have a mission to tell others how to “guard their safety” who have only philosophical positions that are not based in science or facts.
One can observe reckless statements about methane (a potent greenhouse gas that constitutes only 0.00017% of the atmosphere compared to Carbon Dioxide .0360%) and “all the chemicals” that are part of the hydraulic fracturing process. (Which compose only .5% of fluids used in the fracking process.) The bogus claim oil and gas development is exempt from Clear Air and Clean Water regulations. Then antidotal testimonies and personal opinions about the impacts of oil and gas development are purported as the norm and evidence to “rid the state of oil and gas and move now to full utilization of renewable energy resources.”
Even if you buy into the hyperbole and scare tactics, a degree of realism is needed. Two questions to consider. “What if?” and “What then?”
What if all oil and gas production is shut down in Colorado as some extremists would desire? Colorado will experience a significant hit to its economy. It would put at risk over 100,000 jobs billions dollars in economic activity, (31.7 in 2014) it would reduce state and local revenues by over a billion dollars, impacting funding for education and infrastructure activities and requiring a significant increase in taxes to make up for the lost revenue. It would harm the personal property rights of over 600,000 Coloradoans and result in numerous individual and class-action lawsuits.
If oil and gas production is shut down, what will happen then? Will energy needs instantly be met by renewable resources? It won’t happen, it can’t happen. The technology and the infrastructure simply do not exist for renewable energy to make a significant and lasting contribution for at least 50 years. What happens when the sun doesn’t shine and wind doesn’t blow? What happens to roads, tires, car parts, clothing and numerous consumer products that are derived from oil and gas? What happens to our manufacturing? How will our homes be heated?
If oil and natural gas production is shut down in Colorado, oil and natural gas will just come from other states or from foreign nations, who are hostile to the United States. The same people who chant “leave it in the ground” also say, “no more wars over oil” but they do not want the U.S. to be energy independent.
What about those who complain about “visual pollution” from the “beige” tanks dotting the landscape? Since 95% of oil and gas production takes place in five out of sixty-five counties in Colorado and 90% of the production is in one county, the vast majority of the population is not impacted by the “unsightly” effects of oil and gas production. Picture instead acres and acres filled from border all over the state with solar panels and wind turbines. Perhaps “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
Let’s get real. Every energy resource has its positive and negatives. Irrational positions do not advance the energy needs of our nation. Colorado has a reputation for guarding the environment and the safety of our citizens. It is an affront to the hard working individuals in the Colorado Department of Health and the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to say, “They don’t really care about the health of citizens.” As the former Chair the House Health and Environment Committee I know otherwise.
We can address issues of concern, while we move judiciously and thoughtfully to the energy future that will continue to support our way of life and provide the environment and economy that we need in Colorado.
Rep. Ken Summers, Co-Chair
Larimer Energy Action Project