New oil and gas regulations benefit state and industry |

New oil and gas regulations benefit state and industry

My Side
Mike Kaplan and Auden Schendler
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

If you’re concerned about jobs and growth in the gas and oil business in Colorado, here are some facts:

• Job growth in active drilling operations is recovering faster in Colorado than in other Western states.

• Processing time for new drilling permits has been cut from 63 to 35 days in the last two years.

• Last year, Colorado issued the third highest number of permits in its history.

• Wyoming is considering adopting similar regulations to those governing drilling in Colorado, because they make so much sense.

This information contrasts with Rep. Scott Tipton’s recent claim that state regulations on oil and gas drilling are holding back Colorado’s job growth.

The reforms adopted over the last few years have actually been a resounding success and are supported by many in Colorado’s oil and gas community. They have streamlined permitting, cut red tape and created consistency.

But that’s not all. The regulations created a model for taking care of other things in Colorado we care about, like our children. They protect our drinking and groundwater supplies and air quality near homes and schools.

They give officials and medical professionals information needed to respond to emergencies at well sites. And they require water and air testing so we know what’s happening in areas where energy development is occurring.

Importantly, the revised regulations give people living near drilling operations a way to speak up about the impacts on their neighborhoods. Business people who rely on Colorado’s natural resources for their incomes can express concerns under the new rules, whether they’re hunting outfitters, resort operators, river guides, farmers or ranchers.

The new rules protect tourism and recreation, the second largest economic sector in Colorado, generating approximately $10 billion and thousands of jobs. They ensure the continued viability of hunting and angling in Colorado, a $1.6 billion business annually, and skiing and snowboarding, which contribute $2.6 billion per year.

The 2009 slowdown in oil and gas development was caused by low natural gas prices and the worst recession in 60 years, not the new regulations, according to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s own analysis. And despite the current economy, Colorado has seen relatively more new activity in energy development than any other state in the region.

We appreciate what the natural gas industry brings Colorado – not just clean, low carbon fuel to heat our restaurants and hotels, but high paying jobs, tax revenue, and corporate partners we welcome in our communities. But we understand that the responsible choice is to balance all economic interests, not just focus on one.

Colorado is the jewel of the Western states, blessed with stunning landscapes, world class outdoor sports industries, and ample natural resources. It is all these things.

To quote Stewart Udall, “We can misuse the land and diminish the usefulness of resources, or we can create a world in which physical affluence and affluence of the spirit go hand in hand.”

Nothing less seems worthy of this place.

Mike Kaplan is president and CEO of Aspen Skiing Co. Auden Schendler is vice president of Sustainability at Aspen Skiing Co.

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