The shale oil and natural gas revolution represents a once-in-a-century opportunity for the United States—and for Colorado, too.
The dramatic increase in natural resource production has recast the economic fortunes of North Dakota and Pennsylvania and redoubled the prosperity of traditional energy producers such as Texas and Oklahoma. This energy boom similarly creates great opportunity for the state of Colorado, but only if we take advantage of it.
Unfortunately, the energy discussion in Colorado has devolved into a bitter “us” versus “them” dialogue, with a spate of one-off attempts to ban or unreasonably regulate energy development in Boulder County and other communities throughout Colorado. This “all or nothing” approach to regulating sensible energy development in Colorado foreshadows bigger fights on a wider scale.
While some might be tempted to view these high-stakes energy fights as problems for only the oil and gas industry, such a view ignores the unprecedented opportunities and economic security for all our Nation’s citizens that can be derived from sensible energy development. Energy has long been a key driver of Colorado’s economy. If we manage these challenges in a thoughtful and careful way, all of Colorado’s citizens will benefit.
It is vital for Colorado’s business and economic development community to advocate on behalf of the opportunities associated with energy production. The discussion should be beyond simply environmentalist verses industry interests and rather should focus on the widespread economic impacts and competitive implications which affect all Coloradoans. The voice of the “rational middle” in the state of Colorado has long been claimed by the state’s business leaders. It is time for the business community to exert its voice in this important debate as well.
In an effort to fill this gap and bring attention to the broader benefits of sensible energy development in Colorado, a broad coalition of business and economic development leaders have come together behind Vital for Colorado, a 501(c)(4) entity, in order to:
- Promote the benefits of sensible energy production in Colorado and to our nation’s overall national security, with the goal of energy independence;
- Help support and advocate for a competitive environment for the energy production, scientific reasoning, and a safe environment for Coloradoans in which the state can benefit from the economic development opportunity of a lifetime;
- Uphold our traditional values of sensible production, in which energy development and the West have a long history of co-existence; and
- Be a local and statewide voice to stand up to outside forces trying to influence major economic and political decisions in this state.
In addition to promoting the widespread economic health of all corners of this state, every state and locality shares in at least some of the responsibility to ensure our nation isn’t entangled by the dictates of dependence on foreign oil. Colorado can play a real role in promoting greater energy freedom. This is a responsibility we should embrace.