Continued development of our nation’s abundant natural resources offers critical economic and energy security benefits. Many states have already recognized the immense benefits of a strong energy industry, and how it can be bolstered through thoughtful cooperation and the integration of newly developed technologies to promote environmental conservation and sustainability efforts.
The Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), which has focused on bringing about extensive rulemaking under SB-181, the law that overhauled industry regulation focused on public safety, spoke at the Colorado Oil & Gas Association’s Annual Energy Summit. The new COGCC commissioners stated that the rulemaking process would emphasize “collaboration” and “certainty” for industry, communities, local governments, and other stakeholders. The COGCC held a more than six hour public hearing where many individuals offered their support for the oil and gas industry. Many also spotlighted the significant affect the industry has on local economies and tax bases.
When Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Diane Schwenke spoke she reminded others that the Western Slope has historically provided the state and region with safe, reliable and affordable natural gas. She continued saying,
“Our way of life is important to each and every one of us and the oil and gas industry has contributed to that way of life with jobs and tax dollars that fund elements like our schools and first responders.”
Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese emphasized that it is possible to protect communities and the environment while producing energy. She thoughtfully commented,
“We need to have a good balance between our high-paying jobs that support our community and protecting our people and the environment. I don’t think it’s an “either/or” decision. I think you can do both, you just need to bring balance to the table.”
Additionally, industry employee Sharon Zamora stated that there is potential for environmental gains in conjunction with an increase in oil and natural gas production, testifying;
“I’ve worked in the industry for over 35 years and I’m proud of what I do for a living. I’m also proud of the steps the industry has made over the past 35 years to reduce emissions and make the workplace safer. I’m proud between 2011 and 2017, per the [RACQ and CDPHE], volatile organic compounds in the Denver Metro Area/North Front Range Area were reduced by nearly 50 percent even as oil production quadrupled statewide.”
This hearing helped provide productive insight into how the natural gas and oil industry can continue to provide communities with reliable energy and economic benefits while also prioritizing environmental sustainability. It would behoove more states to call upon business and industry leaders to work together to create unique solutions as well as implement advancements in technology.