Mountain States

Democrats and Republican Elected Officials in Colorado Agree: Energy Industry “Vital” To Colorado

Democratic and Republican elected officials from across Colorado this week stressed the importance of Colorado’s energy industry, whether for its good paying jobs, improving the environment through innovation, or strengthening national security.

From Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), and Lieutenant Governor Donna Lynne (D) to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (D), lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle spoke to the positive impacts of the oil and gas industry this week at the 29th annual Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) Energy Summit.

Hancock kicked off the conference noting the importance of developing our own resources, telling the attendees, “Whether we are talking oil, gas or some other energy source the conversation about how we power our future is happening right now, it’s happening right here. The fact that you all are coming together is not lost on anyone. It is very important that we continue to have these conversations and recognize the important role that natural resources will continue to play as we go forward.”

Senators Bennet and Gardner participated in a joint panel lauding the many bipartisan victories achieved working together, including the lifting of the crude oil export ban and support of natural gas infrastructure. As Senator Bennet explained, “The accomplishment is amazing, again this goes back to the technological revolution that has enabled us to have [a global] leadership position.”

Lynne highlighted the significant role the oil and gas sector plays in our everyday lives and praised the industry in Colorado for its safety standards:

“I often say to people when talking about oil and gas do you realize how many times each day that industry touches your life? Whether it’s heating your home, it’s getting to work; it’s the multitude of products you use every day so you need to think about how vital the industry is to our everyday life and the number of jobs that are created in Colorado and throughout the country that we are heavily dependent on.”

That sentiment was echoed during a 17-member panel discussion made up of Colorado legislators. All of the state legislators shared the same general hope for what lies on the political horizon for Colorado’s energy landscape in 2018.

During the panel discussion, Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling), representing rural Eastern Colorado, pointed to the importance of the industry and the duty the state legislator has to support the oil and gas development and the thousands of jobs and billions of dollars it provides for the economy. Working across party lines to support job growth within the industry and Colorado’s overall economy became the centerpiece of the discussion.

Freshman legislator Representative Matt Gray (D), representing Boulder and Broomfield — two areas fraught with anti-fracking activism — expressed his hopes for bipartisan work on the energy front.

“It is my hope that we will make some policymaking progress and we’ll be able to do it in way that we have in Broomfield thus far. The city government there has had a comprehensive science-based, fact-based planning process they’ve gone through with the operators that are looking to work with our community. We’ve had a lot of successes in that area and I would like to hopefully see more of the conversations in the state on oil and gas development at least on our level, the legislative level, switch over from being as partisan as they have been in the past where we can actually get some collaboration and succeed on behalf of the folks in the state.”

Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert (R) gave reassurance to Gray’s hope for a bipartisan approach at promulgating energy policy in 2018:

“You should take back some certainty that if you are looking for bipartisanship, I think our state might be the prime example out of the 50 of how we can actually work together cooperatively.”

Bennet and Gardner acknowledged several bipartisan successes in Congress regarding energy policy, including the lifting of the crude oil export ban, supporting additional funding for NIST Boulder Laboratories, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and championing America Competes legislation that focuses on STEM education initiatives, a key educational focus for industry to fill future workforce needs. Gardner expanded on what drives members of congress to work across the aisle:

“We’ve been able to do that [bipartisan legislation] not because a Democrat worked on it alone or a Republican worked on it alone, but because we as Congress said this is important for our national interest. The more things that we realize are important for our national interest the more we can do together and the better it is going to be, and by golly, at some point somebody is going to have to pay attention to all of the good things that are getting done.”

On all levels of government, the overall consensus at the COGA energy summit this week is that partisan politics isn’t helping move our country forward — not in Washington, D.C. and not in Colorado. But, while partisan politics seem to be at an all-time high, Colorado politicians from both parties have been able to find much room for agreement on the benefits of a strong American energy industry. With U.S. oil and gas energy surging on a global scale comes more jobs, greater economic growth, and an increase in national security.

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