Arapahoe County Hearing Shows Strong Community Support for Oil and Gas Development
Arapahoe County residents and community groups showed up in force last week to speak in support of continued energy production at a hearing this week to consider a six-month moratorium on new oil and gas permits. The community’s large show of support from many area residents shows that Colorado’s industry-leading regulations allow energy production to proceed without harming residents or the environment.
At the commission’s meeting on Tuesday, local residents, area business groups, energy consumers and industry associations spoke of the importance of energy production—and affordable energy—to the area economy.
Energy Costs A Concern for Coloradans
Rising energy prices are taking a bite out of Colorado families’ budgets. As a result, some county residents testified strongly in support of increased local production.
For instance, Jacquelyn Buky, an Aurora retiree, praised the strength of Colorado’s regulations and spoke of how affordable energy was needed during a time when families were struggling with rising inflation, saying:
“As inflation now ravages the economy my daughter, grandson and his son can no longer afford to make a home for themselves. As a result, they all live with [my husband and me]. Although we love having them near us, this is not the retirement that we had envisioned. One of the most significant causes of inflation is the increased cost of fuel that affects all aspects of their lives as well as everyone else’s. Your goal to ensure the health and safety of oil drilling is fine, but we cannot afford the increased costs as a direct or indirect result that the proposed pause to accepting new applications will cause to the cost of fuel.”
Living in the mountains requires reliable, affordable access to energy to heat and cool homes. As Jack Hamlin, vice president of Energy Strong, said:
“This is a hostile climate without energy. There is nothing better than producing it here so we can consume it here… Either produce it here or import it. California imports 60 percent of its oil from Ecuador and Saudi Arabia. Like you buy your eggs, like you buy your milk, buy local.”
Royalties Support Arapahoe County Residents
In addition to the benefits of affordable energy, development of Colorado’s oil and gas resources supports families and communities through royalty payments.
Royalty payments from oil and gas development are a key source of secondary income for agricultural and rural communities in Colorado, helping families in these areas make ends meet. As Chad Vorthmann, executive vice president of the Colorado Farm Bureau, said:
“We’ve come off some difficult years resulting from the global natural gas supply shortage. Homeowners have seen high home heating bills and farmers have also suffered from high natural gas prices resulting in expensive fertilizer. These higher intake costs affect our ability to provide affordable fruits and vegetables challenging family farming budgets and our consumer budgets. At a time when we need more natural gas to bolster supply, we shouldn’t be putting in more hurdles to get Colorado’s cleanest molecules to market.”
According to analysis by Moss Adams, an international accounting and consulting firm with offices in Denver, in addition to the royalties paid to mineral rights owners, the companies producing oil and gas in Colorado pay local and state taxes and fees, which are an important source of local tax revenues. According to revenue projections, halting just one of the developments proposed in Arapahoe County could result in nearly $1.06 billion in foregone payments to public and private stakeholders over 15 years, including $636 million for K-12 education and $32.1 million for the Arapahoe County government.
The Question Is: Where Do We Want to Get Our Energy?
Colorado production is some of the cleanest in the country. Continued development of these resources is a key way for the United States—and the world—to get the energy resources it needs with the least environmental impact. As Dan Haley, president and CEO of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, explained in submitted remarks:
“Under the state’s rigorous regulatory framework and environmental rules widely seen as the gold standard, Colorado companies are utilizing state-of-the-art technology and innovation to decrease emissions, reduce leaks, limit venting and flaring, and disturb less land.
Haley went on to explain that blocking energy production in Colorado doesn’t mean that America is no longer reliant on oil and gas. Instead, it means that the energy we use every day will be produced overseas, often in areas with less stringent environmental safeguards:
“The world needs oil and gas. We saw what happened in Europe this past winter. American energy saved Europe. So the question is, where do we want to get our energy? From Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela? Or here in this country, in Colorado, and here in Arapahoe County, from local workers you know are going above and beyond to protect our environment and produce the resources we all need each day.”
By the end of the time allotted for the hearing, many witnesses prepared to speak in favor of continued energy development still had not gotten a chance to do so. As a result, the commission has planned an additional hearing on April 11 where a vote should take place on the moratorium.