A small, fringe group of “Keep It In the Ground” activists spoke out at a government meeting today using worn out tactics to push their campaign to end all oil and natural gas development in Colorado.
The stakeholder meeting, the first public meeting hosted by the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) since the passage of SB 181, begins the rulemaking process that will govern new production in the state. But despite Gov. Jared Polis declaring the oil and gas wars are “over,” and the industry looking for clarity and stability, activist groups that never took part in the legislative process are now intent on blocking new development by slowing down the rulemaking process.
Fringe KIITG groups suddenly show an interest in SB 181.
Representatives from Colorado Rising, 350.org, and other similar groups all spoke in favor of placing moratoriums on new oil and gas development while the COGCC debates and finalizes new rules – a process that could take “years,” according to the commission’s director Jeff Robbins.
These are groups that didn’t even support SB 181’s passage earlier this year or last year’s school setback compromise, despite supporting Prop 112 last year, which would have effectively banned oil and gas production in the state. That measure was soundly rejected by the voters, and it appears the groups are now hoping to use the new law as a tool to slow down, and ultimately shut down production.
Notably, mainstream groups like Conservation Colorado and others who did support Governor Polis and his push for SB 181 were missing from the meeting where activists filled the vacuum with the same political theater they’ve used time and time again.
Oil and natural gas moratoriums are being enacted in Colorado on the heels of SB 181’s passage.
Since SB 181 has been signed into law, and even while it was still being debated, activists have had success in enacting moratoriums. Just last night, the Broomfield City Council voted unanimously to approve the first reading of a potential six-month oil and gas moratorium, and other municipalities and counties around the state have approved similar measures.
These moratoriums already put in place and the calls for additional delays directly contradict claims by Gov. Polis, and his legislative allies like House Speaker KC Becker and Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg. All three leaders have claimed that SB 181 wouldn’t lead to moratoriums, but the bill’s own supporters are using it as tool to do exactly that.
Even COGCC Director Robbins, whose job is to hear public comments while writing the new rules, stated last month the he didn’t believe the law would lead to statewide moratoriums.
But statewide moratoriums are clearly the goal for these KIITG activists and this debate has exposed a massive divide between them and the important Democrat political leaders they helped to elect like Polis, Becker, and Fenberg.
While infighting continues among these fringe activists and the leaders of their party, a consensus has developed among industry and mainstream, bipartisan political leaders that oil and gas plays a crucial role in the Colorado economy and that stability is needed as the SB 181 rulemaking process moves forward.
As Dan Haley, the president of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA) said when he called out these activist groups for their transparent stunt:
“Same players, same message, same goal. These extreme activists have one objective, to ban the oil and natural gas industry, plain and simple. Governor Polis, bipartisan legislative leaders, local leaders, and Colorado voters across this state have all denounced that approach. Responsible oil and natural gas development is part of Colorado’s long term future and part of the environmental solution. Activists can choose to ignore that fact, but it’s the truth.”
“These ‘keep it in the ground’ activists merely want to grind these proceedings – or any proceedings that could eventually lead to development of resources they all use every day – to a halt with these theatrics. The rulemaking process is the time for thoughtful, technical deliberations, not over-the-top rhetoric and intimidation tactics.”
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