Energy In Depth spokesman Will Allison was on the radio Friday morning with KHOW host Ross Kaminsky to discuss the recent decision by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to extend the setback distance of oil and natural gas operations in the state from 500 to 2,000 feet.
The policy could be detrimental for the state’s prolific oil and natural gas industry, ruling out more than 80 percent of non-federal for future production and putting a massive dent in Colorado’s economic output and tax revenue.
As Allison pointed out in the interview, the COGCC’s decision to extend setback distances is a near identical plan to the ballot measure that was rejected by voters just two years ago, leaving many wondering why unelected government officials are overruling the will of the voters.
Click here to listen to the full interview and read Allison’s op-ed in the Colorado Sun.
Below are some of the top highlights from the interview.
On COGCC overruling the will of voters:
“In 2018, anti-energy activists tried to pass Prop 112, that was a ballot initiative that would have extended the setback distance of oil and natural gas operations from 500 feet to 2,500 feet. Prop 112 in 2018 was rejected by voters overwhelmingly – a clear statement that we want the oil and natural gas industry to be strong in Colorado. SB 181 was then passed the following spring to overhaul regulations, and now the COGCC is using SB 181 to extend the setback distance to 2,000 feet, which is basically what voters shot down just two years ago. This is an extremely undemocratic process for unelected officials to try to implement a policy that voters less than 24 months ago said that they did not want.”
On COGCC ignoring legislative intent of SB 181:
“House Speaker KC Becker and Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, the two people who wrote the bill, both said several times to the press very explicitly that SB 181 would not be a ban or moratorium on oil and natural gas production. They said that was not the legislative intent of the law.”
On the industry supporting the economy and tax base:
“A CU Boulder economist put out a paper last year that shows the oil and natural gas industry supports more than 80,000 jobs, generates $1 billion a year in state and local tax revenue, adds $13.5 billion in economic output, and the School Trust, which benefits K-12 education, oil and natural gas contributes 81 percent of the revenue to that trust. If they want to take away 90 percent of the oil and natural gas production in Colorado, there is going to be severe economic and budgetary issues with that.”
On voter reaction to the COGCC’s decision:
“When tens of thousands of jobs are on the line and when K-12 schools are not getting the funding that they need, I think there is going to be a massive blowback from voters across the state to say that this is not what we want. And just because oil and natural gas is produced in Weld and Garfield Counties, doesn’t mean it only affects those two counties. The energy that’s produced there, the tax revenue it generates, that supports the whole state. So even if you live in downtown Denver or Boulder and have never seen an oil rig in your life, that doesn’t mean your life isn’t somehow affected by that. When schools don’t get the funding that they should be getting, that’s going to be a real issue for a lot of people.”
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