The implementation of hastily legislated energy policies that were jammed through our state House and Senate in early 2019 will have many dimensions and layers of outcomes. The wide-ranging laws Governor Polis signed are now in the heat of prolonged rulemakings which, of course, are overseen by his hand-picked regulatory agency bureaucrats whose agendas are significantly different from Colorado voters.
Case in point are the potential for vastly expanded oil and gas location setback rules that completely counteract the wishes of Colorado voters who defeated Proposition 112 by an overwhelming margin — the widest coming from voters in areas that are home to the most vibrant drilling and production activities.
Colorado’s oil and natural gas production yield massive benefits to family budgets and elevated quality of life that accrue to energy consumers locally, nationally, and on a global scale. It is time to stop playing games with arbitrarily determined regulations that will act as a prohibition on new development activity and usher in perpetual production declines within our state.
Today, Colorado citizens can rest easy knowing our state is energy secure. Because we live close to the source, Colorado residential energy consumers benefit from the second lowest energy price per unit in the nation at $16.70/MMbtu.
All evidence suggests that Governor Polis thinks California energy policies are to be idolized and plagiarized. However, Coloradoans should understand that heavy-handed, virtue-signaling regulation in California created steady declines of in-state energy oil and gas production, a growing dependence on unreliable wind and solar, and the obligation to import two-thirds of its primary energy supply from neighboring states and foreign countries. In doing so, California policy makers and legislators have levied an extraordinary energy cost on its citizens, who pay the seventh highest residential energy price in the nation at $29.45/MMbtu.
If we paid California prices for residential and transportation sector energy, every man, woman, and child living in Colorado would have to cough up an extra 38% or $1,044 per year. Likewise, Colorado businesses would pay an extra 35% or $3.9 billion per year on their energy bills. In total, a California energy price scenario would hit Colorado consumers by an incremental $9.9 billion per year.
Looking beyond our state border, what does Colorado contribute to the global energy supply system and who might miss us when we are gone? Colorado is the fifth and sixth largest producing state for oil and natural gas, respectively. Frequently, Governor Polis and his political allies act as though they are embarrassed of this hard-earned achievement. Colorado oil production is equivalent to the annual demand of Vietnam, a country of nearly 100 million people. Colorado natural gas production is equivalent to the annual demand of India, a country of 1.4 billion, or all of Africa (excluding Algeria and Egypt) which represents 1.2 billion. These populations represent a portion of the unjustly energy poor who are disproportionately hurt when global supplies of modern fuels are reduced by regulatory overreach by energy rich governments that cannot seem to acknowledge any second derivative consequences of their actions.
Shockingly, there are still three billion global citizens who cook over fires that burn solid fuels (wood, charcoal, grass, dung) and suffer horrendous respiratory health consequences as a result of the inhalation of fine particulate pollution. In this era of COVID-19, everyone is paying supreme attention to respiratory health while grieving the loss of nearly one million lives worldwide. Few people who are troubled by the magnitude of COVID-19 risks and outcomes are aware that eight million people die every year due to chronic exposure to fine particulate pollution as estimated by the World Health Organization. We can solve this great health injustice by supplying these populations with a portfolio of energy options that steer away from solid fuels and deliver scalable, reliable, affordable and cleaner burning fuels that contribute mightily to our high standard of living and health here in Colorado.
Thank you for considering these critical facts and circumstances close to home and abroad. I hope this letter will cause us to examine our consciousness, resist the temptation to be unduly obedient to the fringe elements of the environmental movement, and re-calibrate our sense of purpose regarding our state’s ability to improve the lives of millions locally and around the world through the sustained supply of responsibly sourced Colorado oil & natural gas.
Ryan Zorn is President & CFO of Clear Creek Resource Partners in Denver. He is a native of Fort Morgan and…