A story from the Denver Business Journal’s Cathy Proctor, reporting from the Colorado Oil & Gas Association’s annual meeting is provoking…shall we say animated feedback from the industry’s critics, after COGA’s CEO Dan Haley (formerly of the Denver Post) turned his keynote into a bizarre and defensive spectacle that we do believe very few outside the oil and gas industry would find ingratiating:
The head of Colorado’s biggest oil and gas association drew a line in the sand Thursday at the Colorado Oil & Gas Association annual meeting.
“We will not be bullied,” Dan Haley, COGA’s president and CEO, said during a speech at the association’s annual luncheon that draws senior industry executives, elected local officials and legislators. [Pols emphasis]
Saying that the industry works hard to safely supply energy to the state, nation and world, Haley issued a call for the industry to speak up and “reject” negative caricatures of the sector.
“We care because Colorado belongs to all of us, not just the loudest voice in the community meetings,” he said.
And then it got even weirder, with Haley actually calling for private citizens to be “reprimanded” for their testimony before the Colorado General Assembly:
“We’ve been called rapists and meth heads in public testimony at the legislature and those people saying that have not been gaveled out of order or reprimanded,” he said. [Pols emphasis]
We suppose the occasional judicious gaveling when things get out of hand in testimony is one thing, depending on the circumstance–but how exactly would Mr. Haley like those citizens to be reprimanded for their testimony before the legislature? Our understanding is that in America we don’t, you know, do that.
In fact, the suggestion is kind of horrifying.
To be fair, Haley did make reference to a couple of cases in which the rhetoric against the oil and gas industry has crossed the line. But that certainly doesn’t mean citizens lose their free speech rights, and it doesn’t change the dynamic increasingly defining the relationship between the industry and the citizens of Colorado: communities trying to protect themselves from land use that seemingly trumps every other use under the law, and an industry arrogantly thwarting those citizens in court rather than engaging in actual dialogue.
Who’s the real “bully” in this situation? In every quantifiable way, it’s the oil and gas industry. It’s the bottomless energy industry pockets who pay Dan Haley’s fat salary, and throw hundreds of thousands of dollars against any attempt by local communities to regulate them. It’s the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, whose contempt for public input and built-in support for the industry under pro-energy Gov. John Hickenlooper has been amply demonstrated over the course of almost eight years. It is most certainly not the citizens of Broomfield, Longmont, Fort Collins, and other cities who have voted overwhelmingly to protect their communities.
And if you really think voters are “bullies,” Mr. Haley, it’s time to check yourself.
Because the problem, sir, is you.