In spite of all the good work that Scott Pruitt has done as the head of the EPA, in early July, he decided to call it quits, ending one of the most fascinating periods in the history of the government agency and creating a cloud of uncertainty around the future of the EPA’s current deregulatory trend.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s been a bang-up year for the United States’ oil and gas industry. Since a January report from the US Energy Information Administration stated in no uncertain terms that the United States energy infrastructure was poised to change the world, the domestic oil and gas industry has seen a boom unprecedented in the industry. In the short six months since the EIA’s announcement, the United States has ramped up production to such a degree that world energy powers like Russia and Saudi Arabia will soon find themselves outpaced.
The Good News About US Oil and Gas
Industry insiders felt the oil and gas industry rumble to life in the closing months of 2017. A collective sigh of relief could be perceived as the sector began to pull out of a three-year nosedive. Then, in January of 2018, the US’ independent energy statistics agency, the EIA, released a monumental report.
Praising the “noteworthy resilience of shale gas” in the United States, the report stated that the industry’s ability to weather the downturn, combined with groundbreaking technological breakthroughs would enable “United States oil and gas output in 2040 to a level 50% higher than any other country has ever managed.”
Recent Politics Are Good for Business
The United States oil and gas industry has also been feeling the favor of the developing geopolitical scene in recent months, as well. As Russian and Iranian companies watch potential customers dry up, the United States’ is appearing as an increasingly efficient, cost-effective, and — perhaps most importantly — stable option in the global marketplace.
Perhaps that’s why Japan meets its rising need for liquid natural gas by turning to the United States. In April, the country took receipt of its first shipment, a promising step forward in the quest to “power millions of Japanese homes and businesses” with United States LNG.
A Thriving Oil and Gas Industry Is Good for Everyone
As the United States has climbed the rungs of the international oil and gas market over the last seven years, the economic benefits have been immeasurable. At the moment, the industry is attracting millions of potential investors, money that filters out to sectors of every stripe.
That means more jobs, more income, and more tax revenue.
According to the EIA, we’ve only begun to feel the benefits of the United States’ oil and gas boom, but if the initial estimates are any indication, the future is looking very bright.
On Wednesday, May 16, the Boulder City Council voted unanimously to extend its infamous fracking moratorium by an additional two years. In spite of a prior conflict with state authorities last year, Boulder’s moratorium serves as a mostly ineffective legislative move that does virtually nothing to stymie fracking in Colorado.
But, golly, if those Boulderites aren’t extra proud of themselves for taking a stance.
Adding Two Years to the Moratorium
As the City Council voted to extend the Boulder fracking ban another two years, legislators were positively preening over their success. In speaking to reporters, however, Boulder Mayor Suzanne Jones confessed that the county had not received an application to drill in a decade. In fact, the city’s first ban on fracking came in 2013, fully five years after oil and gas operators had moved on to greener pastures.
Still, the decision was made to add another two years to the Boulder fracking ban as a “cautionary step.”
It’s a Statement, Just That and Nothing More
It’s worth pointing out that — at the same meeting that extended the ban — city councilors voted to enact a ban on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and bump stocks. Taken hand-in-hand, the bans are a clear sign of Boulder’s real intent: to posit themselves as the kind of place where liberal ideas are incorporated without question.
As a means to attract new residents, the Boulder fracking ban is a solid marketing gimmick. Last year, Colorado attorney general Cynthia Coffman filed a lawsuit against Boulder County, calling its moratorium unconstitutional. Though the AG eventually dropped the suit of her own volition, Boulder liberals took the court decision as a big win and touted it as such.
The Boulder Fracking Ban Is Harmless
According to Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) spokesperson Scott Prestidge, Coffman didn’t need to pursue her case against Boulder, because prior court cases have already determined that local governments do not have the authority to regulate oil and gas production.
Those decisions can only be made in the statehouse. Both Longmont and Fort Collins have learned that lesson the hard way. In other words, should an oil and gas company decide to explore the mineral wealth under the ground in Boulder, the county’s fracking ban will have little-to-no impact on their progress.
Boulder, the City of Stylish Liberals
The city council of Boulder has made it very clear where they stand, and they’re happy to remind anyone and everyone who will listen time and time again. It’s just a shame that their many public proclamations have no legs to stand on when it matters. The city’s lack of oil and gas business isn’t a result of Boulder’s fracking ban; it’s a result of industry indifference.
Over the course of 2018, the United States oil and gas industry has recovered handily from a rough few years of low demand and harsh regulations. Even as the US active rig count reaches highs not seen in a year or more, oil and gas jobs haven’t grown quite as quickly as some might have hoped. With a little patience, however, the energy industry aims to get more people on the job than ever before.
Today, oil price rose nearly 2 percent, hitting a high not achieved since November 2014. While the uptick in price is partially-attributed to limited supplies, the market responded to possible news of new U.S. sanctions against Iran. Continue reading