Continuing to ignore global economic conditions precipitated in part by eight years of Republican economic policies, state Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, is still blaming the Ritter administration for a natural gas bust that industry executives say is about to turn around.
Penry’s office issued a press release Thursday sounding the same tired refrain from last spring, when the State Legislature passed and Ritter signed environmentally tougher oil and gas drilling regulations that put a higher premium on public health, air and water quality and wildlife habitat – all important quality-of-life issues for the majority of Coloradans, even on the more conservative Western Slope.
“Ritter also implemented oppressive rules and regulations on the energy industry in Colorado causing many oil and gas companies to scale back production in the state,” Penry said in a release Thursday. “Not only did this result in job losses on the Western Slope and Eastern Plains, but Colorado will also has to grapple with the loss of severance tax revenue that could have helped prepare the state’s strained budget.”
No mention of the Great Recession and plunging natural gas prices. Nor does the former gubernatorial candidate discuss the prevailing Democratic reasoning that before the next boom is precisely the right time to get your regulatory house in order.
And according to a new survey of oil and gas executives, the next boom is right around the corner. They’re predicting more downsizing over the next several months, but after that, 84 percent say natural gas will boom because of pending climate change legislation that will reward it as cleaner burning than coal, and because of new technology making shale formations and coal-bed methane much more accessible.
Will Colorado benefit from the next big boom? Oil and gas officials, touting the abundance of the resource in the Rocky Mountains and state’s newfound pipeline capacity, say it will, even with the new regulations.