oil and gas

Colorado Ballot Initiative 97 Is Headed to the Ballot, But Don’t Lose Hope Just Yet

Over the last several weeks, anti-fracking protestors from around the country have flocked to Colorado to gather signatures for controversial ballot Initiative 97. Much to the dismay of the state’s energy sector, it appears as though the activists may have won a significant victory in the fight to turn Initiative 97 in the law of the land. 

But hope isn’t lost just yet.

The Aforementioned Victory

To turn an initiative into a measure, supporters of the legislation need to gather 98,492 verified signatures. Initial estimates indicate that proponents of Initiative 97 handed over 170,000 signatures at the deadline.

In years past, that’s been something of a challenge for any attempts to get anti-oil-and-gas legislation on the ballot. In 2018, however, the (ahem) climate surrounding the energy industry is especially turbulent, a factor that no doubt played into the success of Initiative 97. Unfortunately for those people who have been lulled into the belief that they’re saving their state, a growing number of experts believe that the passage of Initiative 97 could prove catastrophic for the state’s economy.

The Fallout From 97

Though it’s being sold as a salute to the state’s environment, Initiative 97 could prove costly. Over the first decade, the state could lose up to 150,000 jobs. What’s more, a best-case scenario puts the loss to Colorado’s economy at $170 billion over the first decade.

That loss isn’t restricted to the oil and gas industry, either. Construction, healthcare, hospitality, and government jobs would fall under the axe of Initiative 97.

Why It’s Not as Bad as It Sounds

Just because Initiative 97 is in the race doesn’t mean it’s a sure thing. First, the ballot initiative has some competition right out of the gate, and it’s a doozy. The Colorado Farm Bureau banded together to introduce Initiative 108, a measure that would penalize the government for taking or devaluing landowners across the state. The passage of such legislation would make it harder for anti-fracking activists to pass restrictive laws in the future.

Then, there are the numbers in question. One hundred seventy thousand signatures sounds like one heck a lot, right? It isn’t. In 2016, Colorado ballot initiatives received roughly 2 million votes on either side. In 2014, the last midterm year, ballot measures still clocked about 1.8 million votes per. In other words, 170,000 signatures in the pro column is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to election day.

Of course, the most prominent opponent of Initiative 97 is its supporters, who lean largely Democrat. In midterm years, Republicans vote. Democrats may be outraged, but Republicans show up to cast their votes, and that is bound to make the biggest difference when election day finally rolls around.

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Organization Skills of Anti-Fracking Group Are a Boon to Colorado Oil and Gas

If we’re dependent upon the organizational skills of the top-level operators hoping to put Colorado Initiative 97 on the ballot, then it looks like the state oil and gas industry doesn’t have too much to worry about.

Anti-fracking organization Colorado Rising has spearheaded the gathering of signatures over the last several weeks in the hopes of getting Initiative 97 on the ballot in November. Unfortunately, thanks to what The New York Times referred to as a “routine contract dispute” with an out-of-state political consultant named Mike Selvaggio, several hundred of the gathered signatures went missing.

Ballot Initiative 97 proposes that oil and gas projects throughout the state of Colorado would be forced to ensure that extraction projects are at least 2,500 feet away from schools and domiciles. If passed into law, the measure would make 85 percent of non-federal land in Colorado off-limits to oil and gas production.

A few days later, it turned out that Selvaggio’s firm had closed its doors because it was owed money for its service. While Colorado Rising denies that claim, it makes sense that some “missing signatures” would have been the natural result of a lack of payment on the part of the anti-fracking group.

Either way, the potential failure of Initiative 97 because of bureaucratic bungling is enough to take some of the pressure off those fighting against the passage of this harmful legislation.

We’ve spent a lot of time discussing Initiative 97 over the last several weeks, not because the tumult makes for good stories, but because this legislative maneuver could devastate the energy industry in Colorado. The 2018 ballot is filled with several other hopefuls (including one that would finally make slavery illegal, but Initiative 97 is far and away the most pressing. Should it find its way onto the November ballot, it’s more important than ever to get out and vote to protect the economy and prosperity of Colorado.

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Colorado Energy Sector Faces a Tough Battle in November

The oil and gas climate in the United States is mostly positive at the moment. After several rough years, a friendly administration has allowed the professionals of America’s energy sector a few months to breathe. There’s no time to celebrate in Colorado, however, as the oil and gas sector is prepping for a fierce battle at the ballot box in a few months time.

The Most Restrictive Initiative in Years

With each new election cycle, anti-fracking protestors find some new means of waging war at the legislative level. In 2018, however, they’ve cooked up a doozy in Colorado Ballot Initiative 97. The proposal would see Colorado’s rules on production setback increase from 500 feet for residences and 1,000 feet for schools to well over 2,500 feet.

According to Scott Prestidge, a spokesman for the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, Initiative 97 would cripple the state’s oil and gas sector in one fell swoop. “A 2,500-foot setback would shut down Colorado’s oil and natural gas industry and lead to a massive layoff of over 100,000 local jobs,” says Prestidge. “We hope Coloradans read before they sign any petition that would place this dangerous measure on the ballot.”

The Shifting Face of the Capitol

Should initiative 97 fail to ignite voters, there’s still plenty of room for damage to be done in November. At present, Republicans hold a narrow one-seat in the state’s Senate. Should the voting public shift toward the Democrats, that majority could evaporate, leaving the State legislature looking like a very unfriendly place for oil and gas businesses.

It remains to be seen if the “blue wave” will come to Colorado, but the economic ramifications of such an ideological shift could be dire.

Get Out and Vote Already

The upcoming elections in Colorado are more critical than merely picking a new governor. There are some very tangible threats to the ease with which Coloradans live their lives. Either a liberal-leaning state Senate or the passage of Initiative 97 could have far-reaching consequences in sectors far beyond energy alone.

When November arrives, at last, don’t miss the opportunity to make sure your voice is heard on every level in Colorado. Make sure to vote your conscience, vote for the economy, and vote for a thriving future in The Centennial State.

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A Look at the People Who Are Sustained By the Oil and Gas Industry

In the United States, there is an ongoing war on the people who provide oil and gas to their fellow citizens. While most of the vitriol is aimed at the men and women who sit on the boards of major companies, the unwarranted assault on oil and gas is felt by everyone employed in oil and gas.

An average employee in the energy sector, whether they work in the fields or the office, tend to find their profession treated with, at best, casual dismissal. At worst, they get to listen to half-informed lectures about the damage they’re doing. Some in the press have called outright for oil and gas employees to quit if they have any ethics. So rampant is the ongoing smear campaign that the next generation has no interest in a career in oil and gas because they consider the sector, “harmful to society.”

The surprising thing is, a big chunk of those millennials are working jobs in industries supported by the men and women who ensure that the world’s energy needs are met. In 2015, the US oil and gas industry supported more than 10 million jobs and accounted for more than 5 percent of total United States employment. Yet, oil and gas employees still face hardship when going about their daily life.

Kyle Bertrand is the third generation owner of a laundromat in Louisiana, a state where oil and gas supports almost a million jobs. Though the family business has always provided the essentials, in recent years, things have become much more lucrative, thanks to oil and gas. Over the last several years, as the state has improved its infrastructure, building pipelines nearby. As the owner of a laundromat, Bertrand gets plenty of business from the men and women working for the oil and gas industry.

“They are good people to do business with,” he says. “Most of the guys are happy to have somebody to smile and be polite to them.”

In a nation where everyone relies on the fruits of oil and gas’ labor, it’s shocking to see professionals so accustomed to mistreatment, especially when they’re providing the means by which a considerable portion of the country support themselves.

What Do Colorado’s Candidates for Governor Have to Say About Oil and Gas?

With incumbent governor John Hickenlooper being ousted this fall thanks to term limits, Colorado citizens will have the joy of watching two new hopefuls battle it out for the title of governor of Colorado.

Though several topics will inevitably get coverage over the course of the campaign, the future of Colorado’s energy sector will necessarily remain front and center. That’s why it’s so important to know what the major gubernatorial candidates — Democrat Jared Polis and Republican Walker Stapleton — believe when it comes to oil and gas in the Centennial State.

Jared Polis Is a Man of Two Minds

If the Democrats want to reclaim the Colorado statehouse by putting up another centrist like Hickenlooper, then they’ve found their man in Jared Polis. At least, that’s how it seems now that Polis has entered the governor’s race. Speaking to Colorado’s business community, Polis praised the “robust” energy sector in Colorado, explicitly calling out the advanced oil and gas extraction in the state.

That all sounds promising until you look at Polis’ long-term record. According to The Denver Post, four years ago, Polis supported not one, not two, but nine ballot measures designed to obstruct oil and gas operations in the state.

Polis’ wavering on the topic of energy has caused ripples of doubt among Democrats in the state. Anti-fracking activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez even wrote, “The problem with Jared is I’m not sure which Jared will show up.” Industry professionals wonder the same thing (though probably from a different perspective).

Walker Stapleton Does Not Mince Words

Throughout his campaign, Republican nominee Walker Stapleton hasn’t hesitated to speak about the future of Colorado’s energy sector. He’s also quick to point out the havoc that Jared Polis would wreak should he win the election. When asked whether or not he was accepting money from the oil and gas industry, Stapleton (along with 75 percent of the other candidates) proclaimed that he indeed was accepting donations from the industry. In fact, he said that it would take more funds to overcome Jared Polis, who, in Stapleton’s words, “literally wants to end the future of the energy industry in Colorado.”

Stapleton has pledged to enact safety measures that will promote a responsible, productive oil and gas community for the foreseeable future. He’s in favor of capping unused wells and working toward more efficient fracking throughout the state.

fat man

So, Apparently, Fracking Makes You Fat Now

According to a new study from Duke University, living near an active fracking project has the potential to make people gain weight uncontrollably. The research is just another assault from a university that is actively taking the fight to frackers … and that’s a bad thing, folks.

Does Fracking Really Unlock Evil Fat Cells?

Okay, folks, get ready to feel the brunt of some scaremongering. A study released on Thursday from Duke University’s Nicholas School for the Environment claims that mysterious fracking chemicals can sneakily infiltrate your drinking water and “trigger cells that are sitting in your body, [waiting] to be recruited to become fat cells for energy storage.”

In layman’s terms, that means fracking can turn you into a chunk. The news would be pretty terrifying if these results remotely approached scientific feasibility, but they don’t.

To begin with, the science behind the results is very likely sound. Inevitably, the method applied at one of the nation’s most excellent schools is textbook — and as much snark as you’ll find in the ensuing piece, you shouldn’t read any into the previous statement.

Some Duke lab coats injected fracking chemicals into drinking water and watched a bunch of mice plump up after drinking them. That’s typically how things get done in the academic field, so there’s no point in criticizing the legitimacy of the findings. In other words, when these Duke scientists began their experiment, they likely did absolutely nothing wrong between hypothesis in conclusion.

They just forgot one crucial, experiment-breaking fact.

There Is No Proof That Fracking Contaminates Drinking Water

Okay, one more time, because it seems to bear mentioning: fracking does not contaminate drinking water. Over the last few years, several studies have released highlighting the supposed nightmares that occur when fracking chemicals invade drinking water. Whether it’s attacking immune systems, lowering fertility, causing migraines, or giving your kids a cookie after you told them “no,” current academic studies will stop at nothing to convince you that fracking chemicals are terrible in drinking water. That might be true, but the truth is that — and say it with me now — fracking chemicals do not get into the drinking water.

The USGS did an extensive study that indicated that very fact in June of 2017. Two years earlier, the EPA concluded a five-year investigation that stated fracking might infest drinking water but only in the event of some inane extenuating circumstances.

One of the EPA’s studies, for example, said fracking chemicals could absolutely contaminate drinking water if they were injected directly into the water supply. Uh … duh.

The Problem With Activist Science

In their mission statement, Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment is proud of their quest to “restore and preserve the world’s environmental resources while adapting to a changing climate and a growing population with aspirations for rising standards of living.”

That’s a noble calling on the surface, but to an average person, something is amiss. Pursuing environmental experiments is well and good, but when you begin your project with the understanding that the results should further some pre-stated goal, then things have gotten off on the wrong foot.

It would seem that the purpose of science was the acquisition of knowledge and not the pursuit of an agenda. When your experiment is based on a scenario that is wildly unlikely to happen, you’re not serving humanity by spreading knowledge, anymore, you’re just grabbing headlines.

Colorado-Capitol-Hill

Another Election Cycle, Another Fracking Battle in Colorado

In years past, statewide elections in Colorado brought a slew of hardly constitutional ballot initiatives. Although the state’s oil and gas industry continues to bolster the economy, 2018 is proving to be no different. Anti-energy activists have another onslaught of anti-fracking measures in the pipeline.

Front and center, however, is Initiative 97 from community organizer Suzanne Spiegel. Ninety-seven aims to expand Colorado’s fracking setback rules. Currently, the state prohibits new wells from being dug less than 500 feet from a resident’s home. Spiegel’s ballot measure would push that number from 500 feet to 2,500 feet, or nearly half a mile.

Rather than sit back and take it on the chin, however, the oil and gas industry has begun to fight back.

It’s Everyone’s State and Everyone’s Future

While the industry has, in years past, mainly waited for logic to prevail at the voting booths, the severity of Initiative 97 sparked a quick reaction from the industry. As Protect Colorado spokeswoman Karen Crummy explained to reporters, “This initiative is economically devastating to the state of Colorado. Not only would it cost thousands of jobs, but it would cost billions in actual economic impact.”

Make no mistake, folks, as the Colorado oil and gas industry goes, so goes the state’s economy.

Legislation on Behalf of Oil and Gas

In addition to actively combatting Initiative 97, the oil and gas industry has enacted a series of other ballot measures — Initiatives 108 through 113 — designed to ensure that property owners would be compensated if the state passed new regulations that diminished the value of their land and the resources underneath.

Measures 108 through 113 have another intent, as well. If passed, they will help cement the relationship between Colorado and the industry and allow the two entities to move forward hand in hand toward a brighter economic future.

Not Just the Work of ‘Evil’ Corporations

When word gets around that the oil and gas industry is out there campaigning on behalf of fracking, there’s a tendency for the resulting articles to paint those efforts as nefarious. No doubt the legal efforts undertaken by the oil and gas industry will be cast in a negative light right up until the votes get cast.

It’s important to remember that these initiatives get implemented by the citizens of Colorado who rely on the oil and gas industry for their livelihood. Recently, a group of citizens showed up to protest a new fracking project in Greeley. Before the residents crowded around the project, the industry held a hearing to allow these people to voice their concerns.

The most poignant comment, however, came from an unnamed fracking employee — whose comment was buried in the middle of the fifth paragraph, it should be noted. “I’ve been employed by the oil and gas industry for eight and a half years,” she said. “I am proud of the safety measures that we put in place to protect our environment, our communities and our employees.”

Satisfaction and pride in a job well done don’t play as well as niche public outrage, it seems.

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UN Calls Fracking in the United States ‘A Cautionary Tale’

In early June, the United Nations released a report meant to act as a stepping stone for nations interested in developing their shale and natural gas resources. Though the UN report appears, at first, as a benevolent gesture, it feels far more politicized.

The US ‘Cautionary Tale’

In its most recent Commodities at a Glance report, the United Nations parroted the oft-repeated but hardly founded belief that fracking brings with it environmental issues. The report also took time to infer that the United States’ enthusiasm for oil production helped caused the worldwide drop in gas prices begun in 2009 and increasing drastically over the next seven years.

The report even arrives at the erroneous conclusion that the worldwide downturn may have permanently dissuaded investors from returning to production. Ultimately — and unsurprisingly — the UN report concluded that the best way for developing nations to proceed was by investing in renewable energy.

The European Perspective

The United Nations report may claim to be data-driven, but its conclusions are perfectly in line with the political aims of the organization. Too bad none are based on the truth.

In the years of the global decline in oil prices, the United States energy sector took a hit. That’s true enough, but the fault wasn’t in the oil and gas industry itself. In fact, most experts have admitted that the markets were prepared for the rapid US expansion. The issue came when international demand failed to rise in concert with production.

Rather than fold, however, the United States spent the years of the downturn building a more efficient and cost-effective production model, effectively becoming the world model for energy production.

The United Nations Report Is Half-Right

The United Nations is right in the following: as developing countries develop the infrastructure to support their internal demand for energy, they’ll need to look to a model. However, the UN is wrong when they suggest the US’ energy history is one to avoid. The energy sector of the United States has proven resilient to an incredible degree; further, they’ve developed safe, cheap means of extracting oil and natural gas from the earth to a degree that is far more efficient and reasonable than any renewable options.

For countries who strive to be self-sufficient, but who remain short on funds, the US fracking model is an ideal for which to strive, not some failed experiment.

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Rising Gas Prices Have Nothing to Do With the US and Everything to Do With OPEC and Russia

Over the last week, gas prices across the country have risen dramatically. While the White House is taking the brunt of the abuse, the real culprits behind skyrocketing gas prices are OPEC and Russia.

A Tough Summer for Road Trips

Over the last seven days, gas prices across Texas have risen as much as six cents. In Wyoming, it’s risen ten cents. In every corner of the country, drivers faced a dramatic 4-cent-a-gallon increase at the pumps.

In response to the hike in gas prices, some pointed the finger of blame at Donald Trump. They argue that the President’s exit from the Iran Deal has triggered the spike. In other words, people are worried about Iran’s ability to export oil, so the price of oil rises in preparation for the expected shortage.

That’s a convenient solution to the problem, but it’s not right. The real issue lies in the OPEC/Russia connection.

The World Is Crying Out for Energy

The simple fact is that there is a whole lot of oil and natural gas on planet Earth beyond the supply found in Iran. Questions about the availability of oil coming out of a single country shouldn’t impact the global price of crude so drastically. The problem isn’t with Iran; it’s with OPEC/Russia failing to meet the rising demand for oil.

As more and more nations build up their infrastructure, the demand for oil and natural gas has risen to epic proportions. Even as the United States continues to smash production records month after month, the US energy industry is still struggling to meet international demand. The need for energy is too high.

Pick Up the Production Already, Folks

Which brings us back to OPEC/Russia, who entered discussions focused on how to proceed moving forward. Whatever clandestine decision they landed on, the result has not been to increase production significantly. OPEC, in particular, is having a tough run of it.

In May, OPEC output hit a 13-month low thanks to turmoil in Venezuela and outages in Nigeria.

More Oil Is Good for Everyone

Regardless of what the oil and gas landscape is for Iran moving forward, the most apparent solution to oil concerns is to follow the United States’ example and pick up production as quickly and safely as possible. There’s certainly more than enough desire for crude oil and shale to sustain several entries in the international marketplace.

At this rate, OPEC/Russia need to get back in the game. The United States can’t sustain the price of oil on its own.