Letter to the Editor

As the oil and gas industry executives and their highly paid teams of lobbyists, lawyers, and media analysts continue to work themselves into a lather over the bi-partisan package of reform bills brought by Colorado’s representatives across the state, it is important to consider their cry for a ” conference committee “. 

Experience tells me they are just stalling, but in fairness, the Governor or the Legislature will probably grant them their request. I urge the legislature to consider that when the Governor and the gas and oil negotiators sit down, the Governor needs to be holding the trump cards for a change. He needs to have a comprehensive legislative package in his hand, so all issues are addressed in the process.The industry claims that if all these bills pass it will ” devastate” their business and they will have to go away and we will all freeze in the dark because we can’t afford $20.00 a gallon gasoline and $4,000 dollar heating bills and our schools will collapse and on and on and on.

Here is a FACT: Energy prices are not based on production costs; only profit margins are affected by costs. Oil and natural gas are commodities, like corn or soybeans. The industry storytellers want you to believe that making them sacrifice a tiny percentage of their record profits to do it right will put them out of business. The resource is here…it’s not going anywhere. Neither are they. And if they do, maybe we can let some of our small Colorado companies develop the resource. Does anyone seriously think that Encana is going to let that happen?

Some gas and oil folks are saying the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission reform bill and the other bills (wildlife, public health, surface owners rights, severance tax reform, etc.) if enacted together, will “kill ” the industry. They are suggesting dumping all the bills except the COGCC restructuring bill in exchange for their promise not to oppose the COGCC reform bill. This is a big mistake and I plead with the legislature to pass them all. To give the old COGCC a new set of guidelines will most likely result in them being ignored.  To name a new COGCC and tie their hands with the current regulatory paradigm would be cumbersome and inefficient. We need a new COGCC with the legislative tools to actually change things on the ground.

One word that continually creeps into conversations when you talk to locals around Garfield County about many gas and oil executives and managers is arrogance. I suppose when you are part of the wealthiest, most powerful industry on earth and you are accustomed to doing as you please, it is easy to get that way. This transition to fairness in Colorado gas and oil development will likely be difficult for many industry big shots to take. They will just have to get used to it….just like they told my friend in Dry Hollow she would just have to get used to the smell from the gas well next to her house.

Duke Cox, President
Grand Valley Citizens Alliance
Silt, CO

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