Mountain States

Activists Attempt to Obstruct Colorado Oil and Natural Gas Development, Despite History of Best Practices

As President Biden and other policymakers discuss potential solutions to reduce energy prices for American consumers including increasing U.S. oil and natural gas production, “Keep It In the Ground” activists in Colorado continue to try and stop the safe and sustainable development of the state’s abundant energy resources.

These efforts come despite the Colorado’s stringent regulations and long history of safely providing domestic energy. Not only is the natural gas produced in Colorado among the world’s cleanest molecules, but it is also produced with a focus on safety, sustainability, and minimizing community impact.

As the Energy Information Administration has said:

“Increasing use of natural gas has helped reduce overall U.S. CO2 emissions growth.”

And Colorado has helped to lead the way.

Nonetheless, activists in the state continue to try to halt development both in and out of their own communities, like the East Cosslett project in Weld County.

Opposition to new development is just more of the same from familiar actors of the “Keep it in the Ground” movement, but once again not based in sound data or fact. 

Activists from Broomfield – which isn’t even where the wells would be located if approved – are using a flawed health assessment conducted in Broomfield that only preliminary findings have been released for as justification for opposing the Cosslett project. This is despite the fact that any wells would be developed a mile or more away from residential properties in Weld County.

The research was co-authored by the University of Colorado School of Public Health’s Lisa McKenzie, whose past work has been criticized by the Colorado Department of Public Health for being misleading and containing false claims. More importantly, the Broomfield research appeared to show participation bias, had no COVID considerations for respiratory health at a time the pandemic was surging, and demonstrated a complete inability to link cold and flu like symptoms to natural gas production.

In fact the leader of the study, CCOB’s Senior Environmental Epidemiologist Meagan Weisner admitted:

“This study won’t tell us the cause of the symptoms, so we cannot prove causation that oil and gas emissions caused an increase in symptoms…We don’t really know the cause.”

In addition, CCOB’s Department Director Andrew Valdez further echoed the sentiment saying:

“The results of this study don’t provide us with any evidence to stop ongoing [oil and gas] operations.”

Colorado operators are committed to safe production that benefits the communities they operate in.

Colorado’s oil and natural gas industry leads the nation with its focus on safety and responsible operations, continuously innovating and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) while navigating some of the strictest regulations in the country. The state was the first in the country to implement methane regulations and its

Senate Bill-181 gives local governments power to regulate future oil and gas development within their jurisdictions.

In an interview, Colorado Oil and Gas Association President and CEO Dan Haley said:

“Colorado now undoubtedly has the toughest oil and natural gas development regulations in the country.”

“Despite what the ‘leave-it-in-the-ground’ environmental lobbyists might say, Colorado’s oil and natural gas operators continue to decrease our climate footprint, while at the same time increasing production.”

Producers in Colorado have made sustainability an integral part of their operations, and their work is paying off.

Colorado energy companies across the value chain are making huge strides towards net zero and sustainability. Xcel, Colorado’s largest utility is making progress in greening its energy portfolio and while it expects to be more than 80 percent renewables by 2030, also acknowledges the importance of keeping natural gas in this mix:

“Xcel is counting on natural gas, which emits about half as much carbon dioxide as coal, to play an important role in supplying dispatchable power as the company exits coal and increases renewables production.”

Similarly, Occidental Petroleum has implemented best industry practices:

“Water-On-Demand system delivers water for hydraulic fracturing to well sites in the Denver-Julesburg and Powder River Basins through a pipeline network, reducing truck traffic, road impacts, noise and GHG emissions.”

In fact, data analyzed by COGA shows that methane emissions along Colorado’s Front Range are continuing to fall and that for years, producers in the state have been on the forefront of environmental protection, despite what environmental activists may claim.

“Colorado’s Front Range methane emissions are down 72 percent from an earlier 2015 study and was the first state in the country to implement methane emission rules for oil and natural gas production, which are responsible for reducing 60,000 tons of methane each year.”

Civitas, the operator behind the Cosslett East project, is no exception. Civitas is Colorado’s first carbon neutral producer and an industry leader in sustainability and community involvement. Civitas purchases voluntary carbon credits to offset Scope 1 emissions and renewable energy certificates to offset Scope 2 emissions:

“We believe that caring for our environment, our employees and our communities is critical to our role as an energy producer”

Further, the company has put in place numerous best practices at all its sites, during all stages of production, including noise surveys, sound walls, temporary lighting that is hidden by walls, odor and dust mitigation, continuous air monitoring programs and best in class equipment. In addition, the Cosslett East OGDP will allow Civitas to take two existing wells offline and plug them, further reducing GHG emissions due to the modernized technology and processes that come with new wells.

New oil and gas production will increase domestic energy security at a time when it is desperately needed

Increasing domestic supply is vitally important for our nation’s energy security and accessibility, especially given the current energy crisis, war in Russia, and OPEC+ cuts.

Colorado production can help to fill the needed gap in our domestic energy portfolio while paying dividends for the state.

According to the American Petroleum Institute, the oil and gas industry supported 340,000 jobs and contributed $46.1 billion toward the state’s gross domestic product in 2019, including $34.1 billion added to total labor income.

Continuing to develop Colorado’s energy resources will support the state’s GDP, create jobs and contribute in the effort to supply reliable and affordable energy to Coloradoans.

Bottom Line: Colorado oil and natural gas is produced safely and sustainably. The familiar choruses from knee-jerk anti oil and gas activists should not stand in the way of proven data showing Colorado industry innovation, community buy in, and increased energy security. Colorado and the United States need increased domestic production, and Colorado producers are here to lead the way.


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