Mountain States

CO Energy Workers Rally Against Proposed Fracking Ban

In the face of a wildly unpopular fracking ban that could have serious impacts for Colorado’s energy industry, oil and gas workers stood united this week at the State Capitol.

Hundreds of oil and gas workers and industry supporters congregated on the west steps of the Ctate Capitol on Wednesday, signaling a collective stand against a bill that intends to wipe out energy development across the state. The bill, which would eliminate new fracking permits by 2030, has sparked a wave of bipartisan opposition that may extend all the way to the Governor’s office.

Dan Haley, President and CEO of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, Kim McHugh, COGA board chair and Chevron VP, and Kait Schwartz, the American Petroleum Institute Colorado director all delivered remarks at the event. Their message was unmistakable: the oil and gas sector is not just an industry, but a lifeline for countless Colorado families, contributing significantly to the state’s economy and providing essential energy resources:

Oil and Gas Workers Turn Up Heat on Lawmakers Pushing Fracking Ban

While this week’s hearing for the bill has been delayed due to a massive snowstorm bearing down in Denver, Haley took the opportunity to remind lawmakers that the very members pushing the fracking ban will surely use oil and gas to stay warm, the Denver Gazette reports:

“’Was anyone here five years ago when we rallied for our jobs,’ Haley said. ‘Why do we have to keep coming back here? It’s going to snow tomorrow, and I guarantee you everybody in that building is going to turn up the heat just a little bit. Some of them are probably going to have their gas fireplaces on to keep their families warm and protected.’

“Haley added: ‘Why on earth are we going to ban a resource that we need every single day that we’re going to depend on tomorrow to keep us warm and safe?’”

CO Fracking Ban Likely to Meet Bipartisan Opposition

Industry workers and supporters are hardly alone in their skepticism of the proposed fracking ban. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’s office has said they were not consulted on the legislation and the Governor is reviewing the bill. However, the Governor’s updated Greenhouse Gas Emissions Roadmap, which was released at the end of last month, expressed opposition to policies that would seek to ban oil and gas development. The Sum & Substance reports:

“The roadmap also vehemently rejected the idea of phasing out oil-and-gas permitting or production, saying that strategy would hurt low-income consumers without meaningfully reducing emissions, as companies would just import oil and gas from other states.”

Colorado State Professor of Political Science Sean Duffy recently explained to Politico why the idea of banning fracking is politically toxic, even in increasingly blue Colorado:

“’The calculation among some is that it would be bad politics. It would open them up to charges of being bad for the economy, passing laws that would create job loss,’ said Colorado State’s Duffy. ‘Then there’s the revenue aspect to this. The oil and gas industry does provide some revenue to the state. You don’t want to close the door on a significant revenue source.’”

The American Petroleum Institute recently launched its own ad highlighting the economic and practical contributions Duffy alluded to. The 30 second ad, which began running in Colorado last week, argues the bill could eliminate 300,000 jobs, compromise school funding, and jeopardize the reliability of Colorado’s energy grid:


While the hearing for SB-159 has been delayed, there are questions about whether bipartisan opposition could doom the bill in committee. SB-159 will be considered by the Senate Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee, chaired by State Sen. Dylan Roberts. Roberts, whose district includes several mountain communities across the Western Slope, is seen by some as the key figure who could determine whether the bill advances.

BOTTOM LINE: Eliminating an energy industry that supports over 300,000 jobs is politically toxic in Colorado, and all signs indicate the proposed fracking ban will meet widespread bipartisan opposition in the General Assembly.

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