Jeffrey Beall/Flickr.com

Colorado Supreme Court Decision Ends the So-Called ‘Children’s Crusade’

Just like to tragic historical happening for which it was named, the modern day “Children’s Crusade,” as it was dubbed, has concluded in defeat. Frankly, it’s about time.

Martinez v. COGCC

For those unacquainted with the long-running battle, the COGCC has been under attack since 2013, when Xiuhtezcatl Martinez filed a petition with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (or COGCC) that demanded the regulatory agency suspend all new projects until they could prove conclusively that oil and gas development was not harmful to the environment. For nearly six years, the national oil and gas industry has been threatened by anti-fracking activists whose primary selling point is that they’re too young to go into a bar.

Sure, on the surface, that sounds like a noble quest. The fact that Martinez was a kid also made for stylish headlines, as well. Regardless of the long-running debate surrounding it, Martinez’s petition never amounted to more than a poorly-executed ploy designed to shame one of the hardest working regulatory bodies in the country.

Building an Industry While Handcuffed

In the ruling, Justice Richard L. Gabriel pointed out that the primary role of the COGCC is to “foster the development” of Colorado oil and gas. Ceding economic growth to niche environmental concerns comes a clearly defined second. Even then, the COGCC mandate states that addressing environmental concerns should come, “only after taking into consideration cost-effectiveness and technical feasibility.”

Meanwhile, the COGCC finds themselves operating under regulations that are both wildly restrictive and self-imposed. 

In a statement from President & CEO of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association Dan Haley, the exec wrote, “The plaintiffs in the Martinez v. COGCC case ignored, and attempted to disrupt, decades of regulatory precedent and legal oversight. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act (Act) directs the COGCC to consider multiple factors in making its decisions, including environmental priorities. Following the Act, which is existing Colorado law, the COGCC has enacted the most extensive and stringent regulations for the oil and natural gas industry in the country.” 

Still, however, Colorado oil and gas finds a way to thrive.

The Battle the Continues

The Supreme Court ruling handed down early this week is an undeniable victory for the state’s energy companies. That said, there’s little time for Colorado oil and gas to revel. Opponents of hydraulic fracturing, including the newly elected governor of Colorado, have voiced their disapproval at the decision. In short, it’s only a matter of time before the state’s, and the nation’s energy interests are threatened once more.

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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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.

Oil drilling rig, northern British Columbia, Canada

As the Canadian Oil and Gas Market Flounders, U.S. Companies Prepare for Increased Investments

Today, Canada’s federal government announced plans to spend upwards of $280,000 on a new study examining how competitive the northern nation is in the oil and gas industry. Natural Resources Canada prepared an advance contract award notice that was made public yesterday, calling for an outside supplier to conduct the work for the study, identifying international consulting firm Wood Mackenzie as the preferred candidate. The advance contract award notice stated that the Canadian oil and gas industry fell by over 50 percent between 2014 and 2016. Continue reading