During this holiday season, as we gather with friends and family, we recognize and appreciate our blessings. Our industry has much to be grateful for this year, and at COGA, we are exceedingly grateful for all of you.
We thank you for your ongoing investment in our association and our industry, and we thank you for all that you do each day to produce the energy we all need to thrive in the 21st century.
But as we near the end of this historic year for our oil and natural gas industry, I think it’s good to take stock of the past year and look ahead to what’s to come.
A Watershed Year
The decisive defeat of Proposition 112, one of the biggest issues we have ever faced, was not a win for our industry, it was a win for all of Colorado. But even beyond that milestone, 2018 included many significant undertakings, truly making it a watershed year for our industry.
We engaged in no fewer than 13 different state regulatory updates, stakeholder processes or entirely new rulemakings in 2018. That included a major rulemaking resulting in the most comprehensive flowline rules in the country. We now test the integrity of flowlines more often, and we have begun the thorough process of mapping new flowlines, helping to ensure the continued safety of Coloradans.
We also participated in an extensive stakeholder process led by the Air Pollution Control Division to see if there are areas for cost-effective hydrocarbon emission reductions statewide.
And, in 2018, COGA convened 48 stakeholder meetings with various groups to ensure that future rulemakings or the development of possible voluntary programs are based on sound science and data and not simply on unfounded assumptions and concerns.
In a few weeks, just before the year closes, we will come to table for another major rulemaking – this time on school setbacks as we work to continue our safety efforts and to ensure a stable operating environment for our members.
At the local level in 2018, we participated in 14 different rule changes in 14 different communities across the state. It was an unprecedented amount of regulatory and rule-making activity across the state – on top of the fight against 112.
This year also brought new challenges and opportunities under the gold dome.
With the leadership of our Legislative Committee, we worked with Republicans and Democrats to pass legislation at the state Capitol that was good for our industry and for Colorado.
As with most things, we didn’t accomplish this alone. We worked with a broad coalition – some in industry, such as Colorado Petroleum Council and Colorado Petroleum Association and many outside industry: Colorado Farm Bureau, Vital for Colorado, Denver Metro Chamber, South Metro Chamber, Colorado Concern, Colorado Chamber and many others. Their understanding of the significant benefit we provide Colorado businesses, employees, and communities certainly fuels the support they offer, and we are grateful for that partnership.
In Colorado, we operate under the most stringent regulatory framework in the country.
However, 2018 showed us that we need to do a better job of helping Coloradans understand how we protect our air, water, and environment.
To help remedy that, we have unveiled a new interactive tool where users can click on nearly all aspects of our daily lives and see how the 14 major rulemakings we’ve had in the past 8 years alone are protecting those areas important to all of us – from wildlife and water to schools and safety.
COGA members are committed to working within this strict regulatory framework, because they don’t just operate in Colorado’s communities, they truly care about them.
Community Outreach and Investment
The oil and gas industry has a long tradition of giving, we all care deeply about the people, environment and shared experiences that make Colorado exceptional.
Under the leadership of our Community Outreach and Investment committee, we worked to ensure this wonderful industry’s philanthropic efforts received some attention by producing our first-ever Community Impact Report. We want to show Coloradans exactly what our collective philanthropic efforts look like and the positive impact we have in the areas where we work and live.
A look back on 2018 must also include some reflection on Proposition 112. Our very livelihoods were placed on the ballot, and we fought off this existential threat.
Our industry came together like never before and rose to the challenge.
We saw unprecedented employee engagement at all levels. Oil and natural gas workers crammed into hearing rooms at the COGCC to testify about the importance of their jobs and the work they do every day to keep Coloradans safe.
They lined up in city council chambers and in statehouse hearing rooms to make sure their voices were heard. And they lined highway overpasses and roadways across the state, waving signs and flags with their families and their children and their co-workers and friends to make sure they were seen, as well.
Ours is an industry of geologists, engineers, scientists, and software developers, as well as truck drivers, roustabouts, steel toes, and rig hands. We are an industry of environmentalists, working hard every day to protect our air, water, and land. We reflect the makeup of this great state, the people who call Colorado home.
We are not the caricature of “Big Oil” that activists have painted. As we saw in the campaign, we are sons and daughters, friends and neighbors. We are the family out to eat at a local restaurant, we are the mother or father dropping their kids off at school. We are soccer moms and little league coaches.
We are like most Coloradans who are simply working hard to build a life or support their family.
We are Colorado.
Coloradans stood with us at the ballot box because they saw us and they heard us like never before. As a result, we saw the successful defeat of Proposition 112.
The Path Forward
But where do we go from here? When we woke up the day after the election, our political world had changed in Colorado.
Our challenges will be great, and they will be many.
One million Coloradans voted yes on Proposition 112. Rather than recoil at that number, or shake your head at that number, consider it one million opportunities for our industry to tell our story better than ever before … one million opportunities for our industry to show our commitment to safety and to our communities and state.
On Election Day, Coloradans told us the oil and natural gas industry is a critical part of Colorado’s economy. They agreed with us that “Jobs Matter” and they don’t want to chase our industry and our jobs out of this state. But now they need to know that it’s safe for their community, that their families and loved ones are safe. The complicated safety practices, protocols, and programs that are emphasized on a daily basis, and the rules and regulations that we follow to ensure that safety, need to be better explained and thus understood.
We have a good story to tell, and we must begin telling it. Safety is our industry’s top value. Coloradans need to see and trust that.
They need to know our commitment to safety begins each day when our employees leave for work and make a commitment to their spouse or loved ones that they will return home safely, and that it continues throughout each day as our member companies strive to produce our natural resources cleaner, better, and safer than ever before.
We are Colorado
The election taught us the power of sharing who we are. Activists painted this as a battle between “real Coloradans” and Big Oil. But an amazing and important thing happened this summer when our industry employees began standing up for their livelihoods at meetings and at rallies across the state.
Coloradans saw that our industry is comprised of hardworking single parents and millennials; innovators and doers; Democrats and Republicans; bikers and hikers; and environmentalists and conservationists. We are real Coloradans, too.
And we need to continue to see those faces and hear their passionate stories about oil and gas.
Committed to Colorado
For COGA and its members, being Committed to Colorado is not a talking point or a slogan on a T-shirt. It is a commitment to Colorado’s communities and to developing the resources we all need and use in a responsible manner that is safer than ever before.
Coloradans had our backs this year, now they need to see that we have theirs. We do that by truly listening to their concerns – at negotiating tables and at kitchen tables. We do that by working on more and better ways to meet their needs.
We do that by embracing a values-based energy economy. Coloradans deserve to know that we value.
We value clean air and clean water. We value a stable business environment. We value safety, healthy families, and a strong economy. We value strong schools and an educated workforce. We also value our communities and a state we call home.
We showed what we can achieve when we are motivated and when we are united.
We are all Energy Proud, but we need to become Energy Advocates.
We need to continue to take our message – our values-based energy economy – to the streets and to city halls and to social media.
Our employees need to move from writing postcards to voters to writing letters to county commissioners. We knocked on voters’ doors, now we need to knock on legislators’ doors.
We put up yard sign, now we need to sign up to testify at public meetings. We rallied outside the Capitol, but now it’s time to go inside and protect Colorado’s energy future.
Our work is just beginning and it will take all of us. But together, we are committed to a prosperous future, and we are committed to Colorado.
Dan Haley, COGA President & CEO