Energy policy — oil and gas: 2010 Colorado elections

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From the Colorado Statesman (Ernest Luning):

At a forum sponsored by the Denver Petroleum Club, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis surveyed the state of the oil and gas industry in Colorado and offered proposals to pull the conversation back from what both characterized as polarized extremes…

Judging by the results of an instant poll conducted among audience members — using hand-held opinion meters — the state’s oil and gas crowd believes its industry is treated unfairly in Colorado and is on the decline. By a large margin, those who registered their opinions said government regulation is the top issue facing the industry, outweighing environmental concerns and commodity prices…

Last year’s tough oil and gas regulations are responsible for driving jobs out of Colorado, McInnis told the crowd of about 250. He also blasted Hickenlooper for allowing the rules to go into effect without protest, despite what he called the industry’s enormous impact on Denver’s economy. “Colorado moved from a state that was very friendly — that also had best practices in place, but also knew how to put people to work,” McInnis said. “All of a sudden, we began to swing and became one of the toughest states to do business in.”[…]

Staking out his own version of a middle course, Hickenlooper — who made frequent reference to his work as a geologist before opening a brewpub in Denver after the oil and gas industry crashed in the 1980s — outlined a series of steps he said would encourage compromise between factions that agree about more than they realize. Noting that he was still a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Hickenlooper argued that his own history gave him “a certain perspective — there’s not so much separating the different sides in this issue.” When it comes down to it, he said, the various sides “agree on 90 to 95 percent of the issues” and can reach positions they can all live with, if only they sit down and talk. “If we can’t get 100 percent of the oil,” he suggested, “how do we get 85 percent, 90 percent?” On the other side, he said, “How do we limit encroachment on the environment to be as little as possible?”

More 2010 Colorado elections coverage here.

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