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Can We Stop Talking About How Much the Oil and Gas Company Spends on Elections?

Anyone who lived in Colorado in 2018 won’t soon forget the intensity of the midterm election. Throughout the year, competing interests butted heads over the state’s energy future. In particular, anti-fracking advocates waged an active campaign to pass oil and gas setback legislation known as Proposition 112.

Ultimately, that effort went in vain as Colorado voters defeated Prop 112 at the polls (and thank goodness for that). In the aftermath of that loss, some critics of the energy industry are placing the blame on financial donations from oil and gas.

The Numbers in Black and White

When everything was said and done, seven of the top ten corporate and nonprofit donors in Colorado’s previous election were representatives of the oil and gas industry. Altogether, they spent $31,170,944 to fund Protect Colorado, a PAC designed to make sure Prop 112 died on election day.

When it’s plopped down on the pavement, that much money funneled into combatting one amendment but let’s consider this: the money that the oil and gas industry put into fighting Prop 112 was there to balance the constant stream of media attention bathed on those trying to pass it.

In the months leading up to November’s election, anecdotes about the poor people suffering under the supposedly oppressive oil and gas industry in Colorado. The Denver Post ran an extensive piece on the issue. Colorado Public Radio sounded off. Even national outlets like The Washington Post and The New York Times found reasons to weigh in on the topic. And all in the service of painting Colorado’s oil and gas industry as a semi-nefarious organism dedicated to ruining the environment to improve their bottom line.

Mountains of “real news” articles were published that determined to turn people against a single piece of legislation. If you don’t think that influenced voters, then let’s look at a real-world example.

Let’s Talk About Trump’s 2016 Campaign

When the election cycle ends, there’s inevitably a series of articles that probe each candidate’s campaign coffers. The idea is to infer that somebody won because they paid more money to get the job done. Even the stat fans at FiveThirtyEight.com have out-and-out said: “The candidate who spends the most money usually wins.”

Donald Trump bucked that trend when he spent roughly half the amount of money as his chief competitor Hillary Clinton. Of course, news outlets immediately rushed to say that all the media attention paid to Donald Trump amounted to money spent on his elections. The Washington Post put the number at around $2 billion. CNBC’s estimate reached $4.6 billion.

In other words, the free media attention paid to Donald Trump amounted to a massive campaign war chest, especially when compared to Clinton. Media exposure was considered the same thing as campaign contributions.

It Wasn’t a One-Sided Fight

Now, even as press outlets decry the supposed influence of the energy industry on the fate of Prop 112, they fail to acknowledge that their spotlight — at least, by their definition — amounted to campaign donations on behalf of the amendment.

From that angle, the $31 million and change the energy industry spent on the Colorado 2018 election was more balancing act than anything else.

Office of Congressman Jared Polis/Wikimedia Commons

What Does Jared Polis Mean for Oil and Gas in Colorado?

When he took the podium for a victory speech in his decisive victory over Republican Walker Stapleton, Jared Polis was ebullient when he declared that Colorado was “an inclusive state that values every contribution.” Polis was referring to his place as history’s first openly gay state governor, but he may as well have been talking about the future of his state. Even as the Centennial State gains notoriety for its progressive social politics, the backbone of the state is built on its businesses.

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President Barack Obama holds a press conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Dec. 19, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

No President Can Take Credit for the Success (or Failure) of the Oil and Gas Industry

Speaking to students and guests at Texas’ Rice University earlier in the week, former President Barack Obama overflowed with self-congratulatory statements, particularly when it came to his “success” with the oil and gas industry. When the former POTUS took credit for the energy industry’s current boom, he didn’t mince words. 

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Colorado Wilderness - MaxPixel.net

Supporting Proposition 112 Isn’t Going to Help People Who Oppose Fracking

Just two weeks away from election day, easily the most contested piece of legislation facing Colorado voters is controversial oil and gas measure Proposition 112. Though simple reason dictates that such a disastrous measure shouldn’t have even made the ballot, there it is, awaiting voter response on November 6. Perhaps even worse, recent polls indicate that the initiative could pass.

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Initiative 97 is Operating Under a New Name: Proposition 112

In the last several weeks, we’ve spilled lots of ink discussing ballot Initiative 97, an anti-fracking ordinance designed to devastate the Colorado oil and gas industry utterly. Unfortunately, as the November election looms nearer, Initiative 97 is coming closer to fruition. Having hurdled the petition process, now initiative 97 is an official part of the ballot in the fall. That means a fancy new name change.

Make no mistake, though, even though 97 is now operating under the new bureaucratic title — proposition 112 — the inner workings of this dangerous legislation have not changed one iota.

Here are the straightforward facts surrounding proposition 112.

If you’re unfamiliar with prop 112, you can read the basics here. Essentially, the legislation aims to increase the mandatory setback for oil and gas projects to an unworkable 2,5000 feet from occupied structures or anywhere deemed a “vulnerable area.”

Proposition 112 By the Numbers

According to a fact sheet released by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, the economic impact of Proposition 112 drums up some pretty scary numbers:

43,000

The number of jobs lost in the first year after passage. Those are more than just oil and gas jobs, too. Industries across the spectrum would be negatively affected. Thousands of retail, construction, and healthcare jobs could be lost.

147,800

The total number of jobs lost by 2030. As much as 77 percent of lost jobs would fall outside the oil and gas industry.

$700 million

The potential loss of revenue for Colorado’s schools every year. More than 9,000 teaching and government jobs rely on that income.

$1 billion

The annual loss of tax revenue to the state of Colorado, a deficit that translates to higher taxes and less efficient infrastructure.

$26 billion

The damage to Colorado’s state economy every year by 2030.

$147.6 billion

Personal income lost over the next decade. That’s money out of voters’ wallets.

Those numbers add up to a pretty scary decade for Colorado should prop 112 see the light of day.

Do Your Duty on Election Day

As this economic tremor sets up to rumble through the state, it’s more important than ever to divorce the truth about Proposition 112 from the baseless vitriol spouted by media outlets intent on stirring up controversy. The simple truth is that passage of Prop 112 would decimate the Colorado economy, possibly beyond repair.

Rather than work alongside the oil and gas industry to curb methane emissions (a project the industry itself is taking very seriously), anti-fracking advocates would prefer a shortcut solution that would cause far more havoc than it solved. When the time comes to cast your vote in November, remember to think about your community at large, not the headlines that fill up your social streams.

Vote no on proposition 112.

Walker Stapleton. Image courtesy of Wikimiedia Commons

Colorado Gubernatorial Candidates Weigh-in On Oil and Gas

Last week at the Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s annual Energy Summit, both Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton and Democrat Jared Polis addressed their positions about Colorado’s current and future energy policy. Despite three disruptions from protesters, who were eventually escorted out of the event, Polis laughed off the situation and discussed his vague plans for the Rocky Mountain State while Stapleton focused on the numbers. Continue reading

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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.