Activists Deny Public the Chance to Discuss How Communities and Industry Can Work Together
The extremist Keep-It-In-The-Ground activist group Extinction Rebellion shut down a Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission hearing last week, denying local residents the opportunity to provide feedback to state officials on responsible oil and natural gas development.
The COGCC has held monthly rulemaking hearings since the Colorado legislature passed and Gov. Jared Polis signed SB-181 – a law overhauling the state’s oil and natural gas regulations. These hearings have included public comment periods that have often been marked by protests from activists who attacked the COGCC members and who are seeking to block all new permitting of oil and natural gas production.
The latest meeting took place in Weld County, the state’s biggest producing region where a vast majority of residents support development and the tax revenue it generates, and who sought the opportunity to give their feedback on how communities and industry can better work together.
Unfortunately, Extinction Rebellion activists twice held large signs against the window while members of the public were testifying. The distraction prompted COGCC Executive Director Jeff Robbins to end the meeting as he couldn’t ask the activists to leave public property.
It was yet another sad example of Extinction Rebellion and other activists choosing to put disruptive and unproductive antics over responsible and respectful public dialogue.
Before activists forced the meeting to end, supporters of oil and natural gas used their time to discuss the safety, economic wins, and environmental benefits of American-made energy.
Scott Prestidge, the director of communications and public affairs at the Colorado Oil & Gas Association, testified about the industry’s commitment to safety and how that benefits local communities:
“Over the past decade, the oil and natural gas industry injury incident rate has decreased by 41 percent. At the same time, the industry has doubled the size of its workforce and increased overall production. … Our employees are our greatest asset and companies work hard on a day-to-day basis to keep our employees safe, so that they can in turn keep our communities safe.”
A farmer from LaSalle, Colo., expressed his support for the tax revenue brought in by oil and natural gas development:
“One time, I was a big opponent of the industry. Today, frankly, they are my best friends. They’re the best friends of most of Weld County agriculture as well. They simply provide huge amounts of royalty income as well as, really as the compassion through the area. Last year alone, property taxes paid by the oil and gas companies to K-12 schools in Weld County totaled some $200 million.
A Fort Collins resident touted the climate benefits of natural gas:
“If China and India followed our lead and converted to clean-burning natural gas, studies show that global emissions would reduce by nearly 90 percent. We need to export to save our environment. There is good news. In Weld County, the air quality is improving, emissions have reduced by 20 percent all while production and people have increased.”
The contrast in approaches to discussing energy could not be starker in Colorado. One on side, industry and stakeholders are working together to safely produce American-made energy that supports local communities and helps fight climate change. On the other side are activists who lack solutions and who are using extreme tactics to shut down public meetings and deny members of the public the opportunity to make their voice heard.