A Welcome Sight: Colorado Oil and Gas Workers Tell COGCC They Are Proud of Their Work
In a welcome twist, several Colorado oil and gas workers attended and spoke at this week’s Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) hearing.
We’ve covered several COGCC hearings to date – like the nearly six-month long flowline rulemaking process finalized in February 2018 – and we’ve been lucky enough to witness firsthand all of the anti-fracking activists’ singing, chanting and sometimes even screaming at the COGCC during public comment periods. Not surprisingly, the usual national ban-fracking groups showed up to Monday’s hearing to “welcome” new COGCC commissioner Julie Murphy. But the real takeaway from Monday’s hearing was what the oil and gas industry workers from the field had to say.
A message from Colorado oil and gas workers
Colorado oil and gas workers spoke during the public comment session and provided an invaluable perspective. Notably, two of industry workers are moms and Colorado natives who have seen the tremendous changes and positive impacts the oil and gas industry has made over the last decade since the fracking revolution was unleashed. One of the industry employees gave a quick and important Colorado history lesson during testimony – noting how the industry has taken on the challenge of retro-fitting oil and gas development sites that have been around nearly 60 years in Colorado, as well as bringing to light the fact that despite the exponential increase in oil and gas development over the last decade, the air quality in Colorado has gotten much better than the smog-filled skies of the 1970s and 80s.
For a Colorado native, it was important to emphasize safety and environmental improvements made in Colorado over the past three decades.
As she said,
“I, myself, am a Colorado native. I’m a mom to a 3-month-old and hearing a lot of these concerns from the opposition is concerning, I absolutely would agree with that. Working in the [oil and gas] industry I can say that for the past seven years, the evolution that I have seen personally, has been extraordinary. I’ve had opportunities to work on projects that were implemented by the state – for instance we just had one where we worked on retro-fitting all of the old tank batteries in the field – so these are wells that have been here for 60, 70 years that needed to be retro-fitted and that’s stuff that needs to be done, absolutely. And I think that bringing stuff to today’s standards helps with our air emissions – helps with our air quality. I remember being a little kid growing up in Lakewood looking down in Denver and always seeing the smog and I was disgusted and that hasn’t been there for 15 or 20 years, that’s been gone.”
Another oil and gas worker and mother who lives near and works in oil and gas, spoke to the safety the industry puts first and foremost in its daily operations.
“I too am a mother to a 3-year-old and am about to deliver a second baby, and I can say in part to the great work that [COGCC] you do, that I have zero concerns for the safety of oil and gas and the Colorado community. Our home is also part of the north tollway unit that has been referenced and we feel completely comfortable with the proceeding of that unit. I’m also an employee in the oil and gas industry and I just wanted to reference an impeccable safety record Colorado oil and gas operators actually do have – and also mention that Colorado oil and gas contributes millions in taxation revenue…”
A Stark Contrast to Usual Anti-Fossil Fuel Talking Points
The public comments from oil and gas employees provided a stark contrast to the usual inflammatory statements and actions from national ban-fracking groups.
Once again, the commission heard from the 350.org’s Mica Parkin, ringleader of the 2018 Colorado setback ballot measure reoccurring nightmare, provided talking points that others from the “Keep It In the Ground” movement reiterated throughout public comment.
As expected, the anti-fossil fuel groups hit on their usual talking points: demands of the COGCC to drop the Martinez appeal and enact an emergency moratorium, bogus air quality claims, and of course, the long debunked “Gasland” talking points. And they even managed to work in last week’s Rolling Stone article which we at EID swiftly debunked – but of course, the 350-Colorado leader couldn’t help but cite several debunked studies that were used to push for a fracking ban in New York, which were then echoed throughout public testimony by anti-fracking followers.
Industry testimony at Monday’s COGCC meeting provided a stark contrast to the usual theatrical stunts of anti-fracking activists seeking to use the COGCC process to capture media attention in an effort to gain headlines. It was refreshing and important to hear from industry voices on Monday to provide insight and perspective about the safety involved in oil and gas industry’s daily operations as well as highlight the importance of the industry when it comes to producing petroleum products we use every day of our lives.