Even as a kid, I loved to tell stories.
For more than 20 years, I was fortunate to be able to tell the stories of Colorado and the West while working as a journalist for newspapers here and in Wyoming.
Now, I’m excited to tell a different story.
As the new President & CEO of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association, I want to spread the good news of this industry that’s so vitally important to our state and our country. And I’m equally excited to advocate for, and lead, an industry that’s not only boosted our economy, but has helped improve our quality of life, our standard of living and our global standing.
I want more Coloradans to not only hear our story, but to better understand just how much of their daily lives are integrated into, and made possible by, oil and gas — from the cellphones we stare at all day to the clothes we wear and to the cars we drive.
Oil and gas exploration has long been a part of our heritage in this beautiful state. It’s in the fabric of who we are. It’s an integral part of our present and it will play role in our near- and long-term future.
As a fourth generation Coloradan, I’ve long appreciated the industry and its 150-year history here. And I’m honored to represent an industry that contributes $29 billion annually to our state economy and provides for more than 110,000 direct and indirect jobs.
I spent the first 20 years of my working life as a journalist, including 13 years at The Denver Post. I never really intended on having a different career.
After graduating from the University of Wyoming with a degree in Journalism (Go Cowboys!), I landed a job as a reporter in Gillette, Wyoming, an energy-producing town in northeast Wyoming. When I arrived, Gillette was beginning to experience a bit of a boom, given the fact the ground held plentiful supplies of easy-to-access low-sulfur coal, which was compliant with the recently passed 1990 Clean Air Act.
I didn’t cover the energy beat, per se, but certainly began to understand how important the industry was to that community and how it touched so many facets of life there.
I see those same connections as I travel throughout Colorado today.
In 1998, I started working for The Post as the Suburban Editor, managing reporters in bureaus throughout Denver’s suburbs. More than a few fascinating, and sometimes tragic, stories crossed my desk in those days. I was one of the lead editors covering the Columbine High School shootings and I also spearheaded our coverage of the JonBenet Ramsey grand jury proceedings.
My final nine years at The Post were spent on the editorial page, including four years as Editorial Page Editor. From that perch, I was able to watch Colorado grow and develop. I watched as our politics grew more divisive – and more professional. But I also saw many moments when communities, and the state, came together.
I think many of the experiences I had in that role – interacting with political leaders from both sides of the aisle, proposing innovative solutions to complex problems, trying to lead the civic dialogue – uniquely prepared me for this role.
Colorado’s oil and gas industry stands at an interesting juncture with commodity prices low and political winds constantly shifting.
Today, America is the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world. That was unthinkable, to most people, just a few short years ago.
Can it last?
But we have work to do. Colorado has been at the forefront of growth in oil and gas development, thanks to the tens of thousands of men and women who work here in this industry. That’s something to be extremely proud of. But it’s also something that needs to be respected and protected.
At COGA, we will always speak up – and stand up — for the industry and the thousands of families that rely on it for their livelihoods.
We need to continue to go out into our communities, listen to our friends and neighbors, and talk about the positive benefits of responsible oil and gas development.
We need to remind our friends that the oil and gas industry in Colorado already operates under some of the toughest rules and regulations in the country – that our air and our water are protected — and that in Colorado, local communities have a voice in the development process.
And we need to continue to work with those communities impacted by oil and gas development so our operators can responsibly develop natural resources there and help fuel our economy and our future.
The industry is far too important to do anything less.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Association is committed to continuing to change the dialogue in Colorado, and, where possible, change any negative perceptions and challenge any misleading statements or “facts” that persist about the industry.
And we are willing to do that one conversation at a time.
We look forward to working with all of you as we support this industry that is so important to our state. I’m honored to join you.