Opinion

Colorado’s energy industry powers a high standard of living for Colorado families

Author: Tracee Bentley - July 26, 2018 - Updated: July 26, 2018

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Tracee Bentley

Each year, the Colorado Petroleum Council hosts an annual luncheon and dialogue on the state of the energy industry in Colorado and the Mountain West. Especially during this time of increasingly heated political debate, we find it critically important to come together at today’s gathering and discuss a wide range of issues, from public policy outcomes to environmental achievements to the broader state of Colorado’s present and future energy industry.

The natural gas and oil industry continues to play a pivotal role here in Colorado. A recent report prepared by the Colorado Petroleum Council found that the industry supports 232,900 jobs, supplies 60 percent of the energy consumed by Coloradans and contributes nearly $31.4 billion each year to the state’s economy. And in the past decade alone, thanks in part to states like Colorado, U.S. natural gas production has grown by over 50 percent thanks to innovations and new technology within the industry.

These developments have had a real and lasting impact on Colorado families. The Colorado Petroleum Council’s report found that the energy industry fully supports 6.5 percent of all employment in the state. Further, the average wage in these jobs is $101,181  — more than twice Colorado’s average wage. For many in our state, these are more than just jobs; they are opportunities for bettering the future of Colorado families.

Every Coloradan has benefited from the advancements of the natural gas and oil industry in recent years. When energy is produced here, cleanly and inexpensively, the consumer benefits. Industry efforts to power Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants with natural gas have not only cut emissions by half, they have saved Colorado families upwards of 60 percent in energy costs. On the whole, energy costs in Colorado are among the lowest in the nation. That’s a figure we should all celebrate.

All of these successes have helped to power the Colorado economy, public education, transportation, and other local government projects across the state. Severance taxes from natural gas and oil production more than doubled from 2012 to 2014, sending $330 million to help fund state and local projects in 2014. That same year, a total of $434.7 million in energy industry property taxes went to counties, cities and school districts across the state, providing much-needed relief to countless Colorado communities.

But these remarkable economic achievements only tell part of the story. Colorado’s energy industry has assumed a leading role in environmental stewardship. Innovation and competition have driven the state’s energy producers to employ a cleaner, more affordable process in the development stage. Another result: carbon emissions from power generation are at their lowest level in a quarter-century.

The industry has worked in partnership with state and local government to properly develop Colorado’s energy resources in concert with protecting the environment that Coloradans love. Colorado has the most comprehensive natural gas and oil regulations in the country, and in that safety-oriented framework the energy industry thrives and provides unprecedented opportunity to the state’s residents. Coloradans are living proof that a determined, entrepreneurial populace can enjoy historic economic growth while simultaneously protecting our land for generations to come.

It is important that the energy industry continue to focus on supporting a robust regulatory framework that ensures the health and safety of Coloradans while allowing the industry to provide Coloradans with valuable opportunities.

As exemplified by the bipartisan representation on a panel discussion at today’s luncheon — consisting of U.S. Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and American Petroleum Institute President & CEO Jack Gerard — our conversation is about developing common sense solutions to the challenges that our state faces in uniting around energy production. They will offer a diverse view into the present and future state of Colorado energy and the steps that can be taken to ensure its historic economic impact continues to benefit all Coloradans.

Tracee Bentley

Tracee Bentley

Tracee Bentley is executive director of the Colorado Petroleum Council, a division of the American Petroleum Institute.