The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Colorado’s Energy Future: All of the Above or Limited Opportunity?

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted August 8, 2016

The United States leads the world in oil and natural gas production, is more prosperous economically, more secure in today’s world and leads the globe in reducing carbon emissions.

Safe and responsible oil and natural gas development is the locomotive of America’s game-changing energy renaissance – which is why a political fight in Colorado over some anti-energy ballot initiatives is so critically important, for that state and the rest of the country.

These ballot initiatives could significantly curtail or bar oil and natural gas development in a state that ranks sixth nationally in natural gas production and seventh in oil output. The impacts on the state would be large. A recent study by the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business estimates that one measure, banning oil and natural gas activity within 2,500 feet of occupied structures and “areas of special concern,” would curtail accessible drilling locations by 90.2 percent, resulting in 54,000 fewer jobs and lower real GDP in the state by an average of $7.1 billion in the first five years.

Those are big numbers, reflecting real impact on real Coloradoans, real people. Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb:

“No matter where you live, when you shut down one sector of the economy, it impacts everyone. Citizens in every community should be concerned. Even if there is no direct oil and gas development in a city like Denver, we still benefit with revenue and jobs. And the fact is these proposals extend well beyond oil and gas. Any business anywhere could be shut down for anyone’s political agenda.”

Oil and Gas development has made Colorado a key energy state, and the state has carefully regulated operations as production climbed.

So, we’re left to conclude that those behind these anti-energy, anti-progress measures don’t care about energy production, Colorado jobs, solving poverty, and economic growth. The state’s former U.S. senator and former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar:

“While their advocates say the measures are designed to protect Colorado, their poorly defined attempts will instead undermine businesses across the state, damage our economy and kill jobs. … Proponents of these measures are ignoring the tremendous amount of work done over the past few years to protect our state’s environment. Setbacks have been significantly increased. We are the first state to require testing of ground water before and after drilling. New air quality regulations are the strongest in the country. We are leading the nation.”

These are the stakes: Whether Colorado and the nation will continue to safely develop natural resources for the good of all Americans, or whether development of oil and natural gas – which supply 67 percent of the energy we use today and which the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects will supply 68 percent of our energy in 2040 – will be thoughtlessly discarded, to the state’s and the country’s detriment.

Industry works every day to produce the energy that our nation demands for transportation, safety and comfort. Safe hydraulic fracturing is at the heart of an effort that has completely changed the U.S. energy narrative – from one of scarcity and limitations to one of abundance and empowerment. As one scientist recently noted, stifling energy development is like stopping a cure for cancer. It’s the wrong path for Colorado, it’s the wrong path for the United States.


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.