Reynold Brown for Universal Pictures/Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

Interior Nominee Assailed By Swamp Creatures and Buzz Words

On Thursday, during the confirmation hearing for the presumed next leader of the Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt, a pair of jokers in movie monster masks decided to drop by.

Though the “protestors” were few, their banal, little outburst has successfully stolen most of the attention away from Bernhardt’s confirmation — of course, that in and of itself is extremely telling.

Because We’re in a Swamp! Get It? A Swamp!

As David Bernhardt sat down for a confrontational Senate hearing, eyes immediately became drawn not to the longtime oilman, but to an individual dressed in a mask ripped from a Creature from the Black Lagoon film (or The Shape of Water if you’re under forty).

The allusion to Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to drain the Washington, DC swamp of its corruption was clear. The connection to Bernhardt was also direct. Since the former lobbyist took over the Interior Department for former Secretary Ryan Zinke, he’s been continuously attacked for his perceived connection to the oil and gas industry.

So, a swamp creature to photobomb a swamp creature. Hilarious. Or it would be if the protest in question wasn’t so off base.

Attacking a Trump Nominee Because He’s a Trump Nominee

Let’s be clear, here. In today’s wildly divided Washington, a horde of people would have lined up to take their shots at any nominee Donald Trump put forth. It was just a matter of finding the right tactics. In Bernhardt’s case, he spent time working as a lobbyist when he wasn’t putting in time for a previous presidential administration.

In fact, committee Chairwoman Sen. Lisa Murkowski raved about Bernhardt’s competence and knowledge, calling his level of experience “unparalleled.”

So, yes, David Bernhardt has spent time in Washington, DC working as a lobbyist. Apparently, that’s enough to immediately qualify Bernhardt as lacking a sense of ethics. The potential Interior Secretary also has years of experience working in the Interior Department during the Presidency of George W. Bush. In the eyes of Bernhardt’s opponents, “years of experience” translates to “agency insider,” which, when we’re talking about the American government, fails to amount to much of an insult.

The point is, the attack was coming. The real test would be Bernhardt’s handling of the assault.

Ethical Pursuit at a Higher Level

There’s a reason that Bernhardt’s opponents and the leftist media at large are placing so much importance on his career and this minute protest of his confirmation hearing: Bernhardt acquitted himself like a total pro.

Throughout the hearing, Bernhardt reminded the panel of his love of the outdoors, of his affection for nature, all while explaining an ambitious campaign to overhaul the Interior Department. Bernhardt’s particular focus: ethics.

“The reality is that the ethics program throughout the Department of the Interior has been sadly neglected for some time,” he wrote in a prepared statement.

Add to that the announcement that Acting Secretary Bernhardt launched, “the most comprehensive public lands management legislation in a decade” in supporting the solidification of the Dingell Act.

An overarching commitment to ethics and on-the-books examples of his zeal for conservation aren’t enough to convince Bernhardt’s opponents that he’s on the level. They insist on avoiding the obvious with explorations of his past and jokes about the swamp.

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.

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.