Mountain States

Another Strong Showing from Energy Workers, Pro-Energy Citizens in Durango

Oil and gas workers, supportive citizens and other pro-energy voices were strongly represented at Thursday’s meeting of the Colorado oil and gas task force in Durango – building on the pro-industry sentiment displayed during the panel’s first session in Denver just two weeks ago.

The pro-energy turnout was notable because Durango is a regional hub of anti-energy activism. Washington, D.C.-based Earthworks has a field office in Durango, just a few blocks from the headquarters of the San Juan Citizens Alliance, which supports local oil and gas bans and has campaigned against hydraulic fracturing and the energy production it makes possible since the 1990s.

Here are a few highlights from the two-hours of public comment during Thursday’s task force session.

A construction industry professional told the task force that the benefits of oil and gas development are felt across the local and statewide economy:

 “The oil and gas industry is vital to our state’s economic health. The important of that industry goes beyond just traditional oil and gas companies. Construction and construction-related industries are direct benefactors and we rely upon the energy industry. For example, contractors build the systems that capture oil and gas as it comes out of the ground and sends it through pipelines to the processing plants. So when you’re talking about oil and gas, or talking about changes to the regulations that affect that industry, you are impacting more than just oil and gas companies. Our economy is interconnected, we rely on each other along with other industries to thrive. I ask that you keep this in mind as you go through your efforts.”

A representative of Volunteers For America, a non-profit with a community shelter in La Plata County that serves more than 500 children, women and men every year, spoke about the oil and gas industry providing essential support to charities and the needy:

I just wanted to comment on the support from the oil and gas industry for non-profits in our area. A lot of non-profits have really struggled in the last five years to maintain services at the level where our community members need them. The oil and gas industry has been particularly supportive. … For the last two years we have served 100 veterans and their families each year who are either homeless or at risk of being homeless. … I just wanted to speak to the impact that has had locally, especially for our most vulnerable citizens.

An oil and gas professional spoke about a major project he worked on using natural gas and equipment upgrades to cut emissions from a power plant:

“A project we’ve recently done here replaced seven 59-year-old engines, two 30-year-old gas-fired turbines, two 42-year-old gas-fired turbines and the project cost well over $100 million. And we did this in La Plata County. One of the big benefits of this project was reduction in emissions [that] I feel personally have gone unrecognized by environmental groups. We reduced 1,826 tons per year of NOx, which is an 88 percent reduction. We reduced [carbon monoxide] emissions by … 48 percent … VOC emissions by … 82 percent … and [particulate matter] emissions we reduced by … 59 percent.”

Another oil and gas worker, who also has oil and gas wells on his ranch, spoke about his family’s ties to the industry and to the land:

I have got two young kids. We have two wells on our property. We have groundwater and we don’t have any problems with the wells…

I do work for the energy industry and I take a lot of pride in the company I work in, and I take a lot of pride in doing excellent work and being respectful to land owners. … It was astounding to me … the amount of generosity that the company has infused in donations back into the community, both in people and in dollars. It’s surprising how many people in the community aren’t even aware [of that].

Finally, yet another oil and gas worker spoke about her personal pride in the industry’s economic and environmental track record in Colorado:

As a native Coloradan, I am proud to work for an industry that contributes so positively to our thriving state. Not only does the oil and gas industry heavily support our economy, we are constantly looking for ways to improve our daily operations by reducing emissions, replacing water and combining facilities to reduce our environmental footprint, and this list could go on. … I just want to ask that we continue to use this forward-thinking, problem-solving approach by looking at all the facts, paying attention to the details and balancing opinions to create manageable solutions.

Let’s continue to keep Colorado beautiful. Let’s keep our oil and gas production local. Let’s keep our skies blue and our air clean.


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