Guest Post: The oil and gas tech industry votes no on Proposition 112

There is not a single challenge related to the development of Colorado’s oil and gas resources that can’t be solved with the smart application of technology; an arbitrary ballot initiative like Proposition 112 is not our answer. Technology continues to propel the shale oil and gas revolution, accompanied by a host of benefits, and it is with technology that we will find the solutions for any negative impact of oil and gas development.

At Altira Group, a 20-year-old oil and gas venture capital firm based in Denver, we are actively investing in the small, innovative companies that are driving the technology renaissance of shale oil and gas basins. Every day, we consider investing in companies with new applications of technology that promise to eradicate emissions, eliminate noise, reduce footprint, improve safety, cut costs and increase production, all of which and more is required in a highly competitive, global industry of which the U.S. is the leader.

Innovation is not unique to Silicon Valley. There is an amazing group of people here in Colorado coming up with real innovation to propel the oil and gas industry forward. Oil and gas is the most data intensive industry on the planet, and many of the scientists and engineers developing products and services that rely on advanced data analytics, artificial intelligence, automation and robotics are your Colorado neighbors. All of us choose to live in this state and are proud to be contributing to the technological innovation required to progress the industry and improve our collective quality of life.

It is exactly this innovation that is directly responsible for U.S. leading the world in total CO2 emissions reduction, for example. Between 2005 and 2017, the U.S. reduced emissions by 12.5 percent on an absolute basis and 19.9 percent on a per capita basis. This 758 million metric ton decline is greater than any other country in the world and has been largely driven by the use of unconventionally-sourced shale gas as a replacement for coal in power production. Moreover, we are seeing technologies on the horizon that claim to completely eliminate all CO2 emissions from the use of oil and gas.

The shale revolution is also a uniquely American story driven by independent oil and gas companies applying technology to the challenge of extracting oil and gas from tight rock – and supported by private ownership of mineral rights and entrepreneurial can-do attitudes. A recent Harvard Business School/BCG report estimates that the U.S. economic impact of shale oil and gas development will be nearly half a trillion dollars in the coming years (not including indirect and induced impact), currently supporting more than 2.7 million American jobs that pay, on average, two times the median U.S. salary. Take a moment to appreciate the value that has been created by the technologists and entrepreneurs of the oil and gas industry locally, statewide and on a national scale.

The wealth creation brought about by the oil and gas industry is shared widely and includes some eight million royalty holders across the country as well as oil and gas company shareholders, oil and gas company employees, schools and governments. The list of beneficiaries is extensive, and we should all take seriously the economic impact on our state that has been studied by the Common Sense Policy Roundtable and others. Colorado is a long-time recipient of the wealth that oil and gas technology has created.

The remarkable story of unconventional shale in the U.S. has completely changed the narrative of energy in our country — and in developing countries around the world, as we all are able to expand our access to cheap and abundant energy. In 10 years, we have transitioned from a nation dependent on external sources of energy to a country that is the largest producer of crude oil in the world, with several hundreds of years of natural gas reserves. This is one of the largest turnabouts in our economic history and is an under-appreciated story of the power of technology and innovation. We should not let the discussion on this important piece of our future here in Colorado be directed by an ill-advised and deceptive proposition on this year’s ballot. We urge you to vote against Proposition 112 and for innovation.

The Colorado Independent occasionally runs guest posts from government officials, local experts and concerned citizens on a variety of topics. These posts are meant to provide diverse perspectives and do not represent the views of The Independent. To pitch a guest post, please contact or visit our submission page


  1. Well Dick, I guess the voters got tired of waiting for all that oil and gas industry safety “innovation” to be developed while you’ve made those record profits.

    Your job numbers are way off…to the point of being deceitful.

    The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the average salary in the US is about 60k right now…or $30/hour for simplicity’s sake. Their data says the U.S. oil and gas industry employs about 150k people at an average hourly rate of about $45/hour.

    What appears to be the case is that an industry that makes record profits actually only pays 50% above market value. Furthermore, instead of millions, it appears you employ about half as many people as Walgreens.

    How many millions in govt subsidies and profitable environmental allowances does Walgreens get?

    Maybe Walgreens should hire better lobbyists. After reading your “article”, it appears the oil and gas industry may need to do the same.

  2. Well “Jay”,

    You might want to do this thing that those of us who work at the intersection of energy and environment do before replying, it’s called “thinking”.

    Across heavy industrial sectors, oil & gas consistently ranks high on pay, market capitalization, and economic value creation. PWC puts jobs supported by oil & gas over 10M and you don’t have too look far to find basic comp/pay data either.

    Your commentary on employment illustrates your lacking not only high-school vocational class understanding of business, but basic common sense. Roustabout hourly wages as a proxy for the whole industry? Walgreens comparison? Huh?

    (FYI – there is this really good website that helps people find basic facts, it’s called Google)

    But, you keep going… oil and gas subsidies? That’s a good one… Are you really so desperate that you’re claiming accounting treatment on depreciation as ‘subsidies’? Really? That silliness was put to bed years ago.

    Energy and associated policy is about competitive advantage of nations (something you obviously don’t care about) and we are the envy of the world. Our low cost natural gas has driven US competitiveness to new levels, enabling industries such as steel to be reborn given their access to the lowest cost of energy in the world.

    Lastly, regarding the environment, the US (despite giving the Heisman to both Kyoto and Paris) continues to lead the world in CO2 reductions driven by low-cost natural gas displacing coal fired generation. Per capita emissions are the lowest since 1950:

    So, do Colorado and the US a favor and take your emotional, innumerate rant elsewhere and leave the commentary to those that know something about the intersection of energy and environment, both on the oil & gas side as well as the renewable/cleantech side.

    Warmest regards,

    A Colorado Oil & Gas Guy

  3. So what you’re saying is that we should be really scared because this proposition could wreck our state’s economy?!?

    Yeah…not so much. Just because a farmer’s cattle end up being made into hamburgers at McDonald’s…doesn’t mean he’s in the fast food industry.

    This is the type of willful ignorance that gets displayed every time lobbyists start quoting other lobbyists as proof of an argument.

    Lobbyists would like you to believe that the state’s oil and gas jobs affected by this common sense measure number in the 200k’ s. (AEI).

    That’s just straight bullshit.

    Don’t believe the fear-mongering and the crocodile tears from the shills.

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