By Dan Haley, President and CEO, Colorado Oil & Gas Association
Opening day of the Colorado General Assembly isn’t exactly as exciting as Opening Day for Major League Baseball, but like the start of baseball, at the start of a legislative session, hope springs eternal.
Maybe, just maybe, politics doesn’t have to be a divisive, nasty mess.
With last fall’s elections, democracy has given us a new start. It’s now up to our leaders to choose to work together and move Colorado forward. If we have learned anything in recent years, it’s that Coloradans will reject an extremist agenda. Lawmakers who want to propose extreme measures that would ultimately ban an industry, such as ours, do so at their own peril.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, if there’s one issue where we think they can find bipartisan support and help advance Colorado’s interests, it’s the responsible development of our oil and natural gas resources.
Oil and gas are vital to our state and to our nation. The industry supports more than 100,000 high-paying jobs in Colorado, is safely regulated, and makes people’s lives better on a daily basis.
Here are five things our elected leaders need to know about energy before taking the oath of office:
- Clean burning natural gas must be part of the climate change conversation. A recent drop in CO2 emissions is already being attributed to the transition from coal to natural gas-generated electricity, and natural gas-powered vehicles emit 13 to 21 percent fewer greenhouse gases than their diesel or gasoline powered counterparts. Natural gas is abundant, affordable and easy to produce. By expanding our use of this resource, we can continue to reduce emissions even as our economy grows.
- The oil and gas industry is powering a manufacturing renaissance in our country. This is great news for Colorado businesses and would-be entrepreneurs. Now is the time to bring jobs back home or to start that new business. Thanks to the abundant supply of affordable energy, manufacturers are reducing their production costs and becoming more competitive in the world market. The chemical industry, for example, uses natural gas to make plastics and synthetic fibers. And the steel industry uses it to heat and power mills. Thanks to affordable energy, the U.S. is one of the world’s largest manufacturers, producing 21 percent of all globally manufactured products. And by 2025, U.S. manufacturers are expected to add 1 million new jobs to the economy.
- Our friends and allies desperately want to buy our natural gas, and we should let them. This can be accomplished by encouraging the exportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and approving projects like the Jordan Cove export facility in Coos Bay, Oregon. The construction and operation of the facility will create thousands of jobs, generating revenue for local businesses and government coffers. Colorado’s Piceance Basin has the second-largest natural gas reserves in the country and is in a position to be the major supplier of gas for the Jordan Cove project. Increased production here in Colorado would generate more hiring and the economic benefits that come with a growing workforce.
- Producing our own energy could make the U.S. the world’s leading geopolitical power for the next century. With growing consumer demand for energy in Asia, the U.S. is poised — through projects like Jordan Cove — to compete with Russia and the Middle East for market share. Decreasing OPEC and Russian influence on the global stage makes the world a safer, more stable place at a time when it desperately needs more of both. Colorado, as national leader in oil and natural gas production, is helping to move these global markets.
- Petroleum products make our lives infinitely better. Of all the products we use or encounter on a daily basis, roughly 96 percent contain components made with natural gas or petroleum — everything from our phones to medicines to the coffee cups we buy every morning. Not to mention, the energy we produce heats our homes and powers our vehicles, allowing humans to live longer, healthier and more productive lives than ever before.
We hope our leaders will continue to learn about and advocate for the benefits of domestic energy production. And as we all move toward energy security together, we can look forward to living in a safer and more prosperous state and nation.