Over the last few months, as Colorado became a battleground for oil and gas politics, several oil and gas companies operating in the resource-rich Denver-Julesburg Basin chose to set aside the political tumult in favor of supporting those in need in their communities.Continue reading
With just a scant few weeks until a pivotal Colorado election, there’s more and more coverage being heaped on a controversial ballot initiative, Proposition 112.
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.
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.
Freak weather patterns have turned Tropical Storm Harvey into one of the most destructive storms in the history of the United States. People have been left homeless, thousands of gallons of water have been dumped across 44 counties in Texas, and the state’s oil and gas industry has been stopped in its tracks. What’s worse, the National Weather Service predicts that Harvey might gain renewed strength as it drifts back out to the Gulf of Mexico.
Initially classified a Category 4 hurricane as it made landfall on Friday afternoon, Hurricane Harvey has since been downgraded to Tropical Storm Harvey. That doesn’t seem to have diminished the already tangible impact on the people of Texas. It’s not over, either. Harvey’s long term effects could be felt by the whole of the world.