THE PODIUM: We’re proud of our work, we care about Colorado — and we’ll push back at our critics

Author: Dan Haley - November 16, 2017 - Updated: November 16, 2017

Dan Haley

I am proud to work in oil and gas. I am proud to be part of an industry that provides our state, country and world with energy and improves lives. And I am proud to work for an organization whose members are truly committed to giving back to the communities where they live and work.

Yet, we are an industry that increasingly has come under attack in Colorado — attacks focused on putting us out of business, largely driven by outside financing and national political interests created to fuel misperception.

We have seen a rise in anti-oil and gas activism this year and have seen the public discourse in Colorado take a nasty turn, with more aggressive tactics and vile rhetoric. An op-ed this past spring suggested there is a moral imperative to blow up rigs and eliminate workers in order to stop fracking. We have been disparaged in public testimony, called rapists and meth heads.

That is not the industry I know. Nor is it the reality in which our oil and gas workers live and operate.

I recently was asked by a reporter what’s the most frustrating misconception that some have about the industry. My answer? That we don’t care.

Our industry is made up of hardworking men and women who care deeply about providing the energy that powers our everyday lives. The industry I know cares about our state and its environment. It’s an industry always striving to do more, to make sure our air, water and land are protected. The industry I know cares about making sure our coworkers, friends, and employees go home safely at the end of each work day.

We care because Colorado belongs to all of us, not just the loudest or most extreme voices throughout digital echo chambers or in city council chambers.

I know that we care because I see our industry’s willingness to engage with communities. We are committed to being good neighbors and stewards of our state. Colorado’s oil and gas regulations are among the most stringent in the United States, and our operators routinely work to meet  — and exceed — those tough regulations. But, to really change public perception, we can’t just tell people we care or that we are a safe industry; we have to show them.

Earlier this year, COGA members immediately swept into action after the governor issued a Notice to Operators to test all flowlines within 1,000 feet of an occupied structure. Within hours, our members were testing more than 120,000 flowlines across the state. Within weeks we learned that nearly every single line — 99.65 percent of them — passed inspection. Of the tiny fraction that did not, no significant leaks were reported. I hope this result is one step in the right direction, showing Coloradans that we are safe and doing so in an open and transparent manner.

Just last month, after much debate, a united industry went before the Colorado Health Department’s Air Quality Control Commission and supported most of the recommended changes to Colorado’s already-stringent air rules. Working with organizations such as the Environmental Defense Fund to pass additional regulations on our own industry reinforces our commitment to keeping Colorado’s air clean and our state healthy.

We have supported organizations like Energy Outreach Colorado, Weld Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, The Boys & Girls Club, and The Tennyson Center, giving millions of dollars to help those in need. Our employees spend thousands of hours volunteering in their communities, positively impacting their friends and neighbors.

When I talked about all of this at our annual meeting last week, the media only focused on the conflict, the attacks.

Even though the attacks from anti-oil and gas activists may never stop, we can’t allow them to define us. We must push back.

We will push back as we serve our communities. We will push back as we strive to be safer than ever before. We will push back as we utilize technologies that clean our air and improve our environment. And we will push back against those who seek to vilify our oil and gas workers. We are proud of our good work. We are proud of the positive impact we have on the lives of all Coloradans. And we are proud to call Colorado home.

Read The Podium weekly; it’s where prominent players in Colorado politics address the big issues of the day.

Dan Haley

Dan Haley

Dan Haley is president and chief executive officer of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association.