Mountain States

Colorado Senator Gardner Cites New Economic Analysis in Call for Politicians to Reject “Keep It In The Ground”

Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner called on candidates and elected leaders to reject calls for fossil fuel energy development bans on federal lands citing a new report from the U.S. Chamber Institute for 21st Century Energy detailing the “severe and immediate” negative impacts the U.S. economy would face under the proposal championed by “Keep It In The ground” (KIITG) activists.  Speaking at the Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s Rocky Mountain Energy Summit, Gardner said:

“And it’s a risk because we have leaders who are saying irresponsible things like, ‘we will have no more production on public lands.’ It’s irresponsible and I think anybody who refuses to reject statements like that are not fit for statewide office in Colorado or not fit for federal office in Washington, D.C.”

Specifically citing the report, Gardner called a pair of anti-fracking measures Colorado voters could face in November an “existential threat” while warning that Hillary Clinton has touted similar policies in her campaign. Also from Gardner’s remarks:

“And this debate that’s taking place in Colorado right now about whether or not we should ban fracking is an existential threat we have to kill and we have to stop. And unfortunately it’s not just a debate that’s taking place in Colorado. We’ve heard at least one of our presidential candidates, say, Hillary Clinton say, this of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce report – and I hope you take a look at it, it just came out – ‘No future extraction on federal lands.  I agree with that.’ Think about what that means to jobs in this state.”

And as the new U.S. Chamber report details, if a ban on fossil fuel energy development on federal lands, the goal of the KIITG movement, was enacted, Colorado would be his especially hard. Asa fact sheet accompanying the report details “In Colorado alone, a ban on federal energy production could cost 50,000 jobs, $8.3 billion in annual GDP and $124 million in state royalties. And as the fact sheet details, the state’s education systems and local governments would be hit especially hard:

“Roughly half [of federal royalties to the state], or about $62 million in 2015, was earmarked by the state to be spent on education programs. Approximately 40 percent, or $50 million last year, was distributed to local governments. Education systems and local governments would need to quickly identify alternative funding sources to be made whole.”

Gardner cited the importance of America’s emerging role as an energy exporter while rattling off a long list of new federal regulations, including the EPA ozone rule, BLM fracking rules, the Clean Power Plan and many others that he fears are “creating a risk that we will regulate this industry out of business.” Gardner said:

“The energy industry alone, if you just look at some of the new rules over the past several years: EPA methane rules, BLM venting and flaring rule, BLM Planning 2.0, EPA Clean Power Plan, BLM hydraulic fracturing, DOI coal leasing moratorium, DOI stream protection rule, DOI well control rule for offshore oil and gas, ONRR coal and oil and gas valuation rule, BLM royalty rates raise, EPA financial assurance rule for hard rock mining, DOI’s self-bonding rules, an update to BLM’s onshore oil and gas orders 3, 4, and 5, and EPA lowering ground-level ozone and the NOx standard. Those are just a few of the regulations that have impacted business, and many of them are extremely significant. “

In his remarks, Gardner, a member of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, thanked the state’s energy industry leaders for creating jobs while using his experience of growing up in the small town of Yuma, on Colorado’s rural eastern plains to highlight what is at stake. Also from Gardner’s remarks:

“Think about what that means to jobs in this state. I grew up in a little town of 3,000 people. Thanks to the natural gas industry we have a third stoplight in that little town. We had two, now we have three. There’s a lot of traffic. But I can tell you that out of 67 kids who graduated in my high school class, very few of us actually returned home to be in that small town again. Because there were no jobs, there were no economic opportunities; there were no benefits that came along with any job that you could find. But when we started finding natural gas in that county, my classmates started moving back. People who graduated from high school and college were returning to that small town or staying in that small town because of the work you did and I want to thank you for it.”

As this new report demonstrates, KIITG activists and their supporters in Washington should consider the impacts their extreme agenda would impose on state and local governments and important federal programs. Elected officials like Sen. Gardner, who grew up living around oil and natural gas development understand this.  And fortunately, there are many more elected officials like him who are joining with statewide groups, local stakeholders and even some of our nation’s most prominent Democrats to speak out in opposition to this radical and misguided campaign.

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