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.
On Overall Energy Policy
Oil and gas fuel Colorado’s economy as well as the state, in general. This industry plays a vital role in many aspects of how the state operates, and both gubernatorial candidates were eager to share their beliefs on Colorado energy policy.
“We can have it all, and anyone who says differently is presenting you with a false choice,” Republican candidate Stapleton said in regards to a clean environment and a booming fossil fuel industry.
On the other side of the aisle, Democratic candidate Polis asserted that conflicts between business and environmental interests need to be settled to ensure a sound future for Colorado’s energy policy. He also urged for more involvement from local government in the regulation of the oil and gas industry. Polis argued that local governments impose hurtful fracking bans because existing legislation doesn’t a provide “a meaningful seat at the table” for these entities.
On an Anti-Fracking Initiative
Both candidates expressed their intentions not to support an anti-fracking initiative that could end up on the ballot this year. This initiative would potentially expand the minimum distance between occupied buildings and future drilling sites from 500 feet to 2,500.
“This is nothing more than a job-killing measure, plain and simple,” Stapleton asserted, “As a numbers guy, I know that 2,500 is not 2,000, but it also isn’t too far off, either.”
“[W]e can’t ignore the role that the oil and gas industry has played in our growth, or the significant wages and tax revenue it creates in our state,” commented Polis. “But neither can we ignore the conflicts between homeowners and operators, between surface rights and mineral rights, between state government and local government.”
Despite Polis’ comments, he funded a very similar initiative during the 2014 midterm elections. It seems to gain votes in this year’s midterms, Polis is willing to change his tune instead of stand firm on his beliefs about fracking. This wavering behavior is concerning for those in the oil and gas industry, as the business needs a proponent for fracking and other causes that can help expand the state’s economy and offer more jobs to residents.
However, Stapleton seems firm on the topics and willing to go to bat for oil and gas. His strength and research-driven arguments demonstrate that as Colorado’s governor, Stapleton will look at issues from every angle to determine what is best for the state.