Industry front group pivots to “If you can’t be right, be loud” strategy

It appears that Colorado oil and gas lobbyists are back to playing their old games of lies and misinformation. Monday, the industry-sponsored, blatantly anti-science group Energy in Depth (EID) put out new propaganda in an attempt to distract from the truth of how damaging oil and gas operations are to western air quality. In an interesting twist, EID’s Simon Lomax chose to attack Denver Post environmental reporter Bruce Finley as a means of casting doubt on the studies and data Finley references in his stories. Lomox spent a great deal of time and a lot of column inches cherrypicking to try and refute the negative effects of oil and gas drilling pollution on air quality. Our favorite line here at C&BP is when Lomax blames trees for smog.

"…and, not for nothing, those percentages don’t even include the biggest source of smog-forming emissions, which is the “biogenic” category – meaning trees and other vegetation." — Simon Lomax, "What Bruce Finley Failed to Mention About Air Quality," Jan. 29, 2013

EID is a front group that was launched in 2009 by the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) – a.k.a the natural gas lobby. It has a team that works in various energy producing states where citizens are rightly concerned about the impacts of oil and gas to clean air, clean water, and property values.


It was disappointing to see that Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) CEO Tisha Schuller decided to insert her group into the theatrics. It was just over a month ago that Schuller began her “charm offensive,” announcing that she would tour Colorado in an attempt to depolarize the debate around drilling and fracking near communities. One way for her to do that would be to publicly distance herself and her organization from disinformation producers like EID. Instead, COGA retweeted EID’s claims.

Speaking of claims, here are a few other facts regarding fracking and air quality that EID would much rather the public wasn’t aware of.

  • According to the EPA, “Methane, the primary constituent of natural gas, is a potent greenhouse gas…oil and natural gas production and processing accounts for nearly 40% of all U.S. methane emissions, making the industry the nation’s single largest methane source.”
  • According to the EPA, “Some of the largest air emissions in the natural gas industry occur as natural gas wells that have been fractured are being prepared for production.”
  • CU’s Colorado School of Public Health determined that residents living within one half mile of natural gas wells are at greater risk for potential health problems.
  • The EPA has found emissions from drilling, including fracking, and leaks from transmission pipes, totaled 225 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide equivalents during 2011, second only to power plants.

Front groups like EID detract from the real conversation around fracking and drilling in the west. Unfortunately, it seems as if industry is turning to them out of fear, as more western communities move to install common sense protections for their residents. If people like COGA's Tisha Schuller really want to have a depolarized conversation, they need to publicly distance themselves from groups like EID. Instead, Schuller is doing what every other mouthpiece for Big Oil does, spreading lies and misinformation so that the oil and gas companies she represents can continue to pollute.

Media shines a light on Colorado BLM leasing plans

News stories last week show that BLM Colorado State Director Helen Hankins is up to her old tricks. According to stories in E&E News’ Energywire, the Durango Herald, and the Denver Business Journal, Dir. Hankins is following her consistent pattern of offering to auction off controversial land for oil and gas, even after major public outcry. This time, Dir. Hankins’ plans to offer more than 10,000 acres near Mesa Verde National Park – worsening air pollution problems the park is already experiencing from existing nearby drilling operations and coal-fired power plants.

It’s worth noting that bringing these oil and gas proposals back puts Dir. Hankins in direct conflict with the balanced approach to public land use that Interior Sec. Sally Jewell spent her weekend endorsing to Western governors.

You may remember that in early 2013, Dir. Hankins deferred the Mesa Verde parcels after the National Park Service, landowners, and community groups protested the threat posed to the park from drilling pollution. Her reversal demonstrates why Sec. Jewell should rein in the Colorado BLM office and ensure that Dir. Hankins is using innovative 2010 oil and gas leasing reforms such as “Master Leasing Plans” which allow a more balanced approach to energy development and look at on-the-ground impacts, including threats to air quality and tourism and recreation. Instead, Dir. Hankins continues ignore the balanced approach Westerners want and plays her part as the oil and gas industry’s real estate agent.

In the Durango Herald, Emery Cowan reported that the La Plata County Commissioners sent a letter to Dir. Hankins asking her to implement the Obama administration’s oil and gas leasing reforms.

County asks for delay in gas and oil lease

“However, by making the decision to lease (the La Plata County parcels in November), the BLM appears to be shutting the door on a (master plan) and a smart approach to protect the treasures that are so important to our local community and economy,” the letter said.

Scott Streater, writing for E&E News, noted that former park rangers weighed in on the original lease sale with concerns of how oil and gas leasing would affect one of the nation’s most iconic parks, Mesa Verde National Park.

BLM to put deferred parcels near Colo. national park back on the block

Among those that protested against leasing the parcels was the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, which wrote a letter in February to Salazar complaining that development of the eight parcels “could further impair the already degraded air quality at Mesa Verde, harm important scenic values within the surrounding landscape and negatively affect the local economy, which depends greatly on the national park’s protected status.”

Writing in the Denver Business Journal, Cathy Proctor noted that Mesa Verde attracts more than half a million visitors annually.

Denver Business Journal: Feds to re-offer oil and gas leases near Mesa Verde National Park

The federal Bureau of Land Management is moving forward with a controversial plan to offer about 12,000 acres of mineral rights in southwest Colorado for oil and gas drilling at its November auction — including parcels near the entrance to Mesa Verde National Park.

As public outcry continues to grow, we’ll be watching to see if Dir. Hankins is allowed to continue making the Administration’s reforms into a broken promise for Western communities.

Industry’s new leaf?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Maybe the oil and gas lobby's latest efforts should strike hope in the hearts of Coloradans. Are they turning over a new leaf and willing to balance energy development with conservation interests? Maybe … maybe not.

From Colorado Oil and Gas Association Director Tisha Shuller’scharm offensive” to Western Energy Alliance President Tim Wigely’spoll for the people,” oil and gas lobbyists are in high gear trying to stop a public relations mess that industry themselves created.

Clearly the effort is garnering them good press like Shuller reinventing herself as the environmentalist or Mr. Wigley taking a tired poll they rehash nearly every year and parading it as proof they want to know what Coloradans think. 


Analysis: Colorado BLM failing to enact Obama energy reforms creating red tape, uncertainty

**Cross-posted from the Checks and Balances Project **

A stunning new analysis shows striking inefficiencies at work in Colorado that should infuriate anyone looking for a smarter approach to federal oil and gas leasing – including both conservationists and energy companies.

In Colorado, leases sold by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have attracted nearly three times the number of costly, time-consuming lawsuits (known as protests) than we’ve seen in the rest of the Rockies. Our new analysis found that 76 percent of leases in Colorado were protested, as opposed to 27 percent in surrounding states, on average.

The analysis is based on BLM data recently released for the first time regarding the number of protests in each state filed by citizens and stakeholders on tracts of lands (known as parcels) available for oil and gas leasing. Protests are one of the key measurements for how controversial a particular decision to lease land for oil and gas development.

The reason for this massive discrepancy is clear:

Helen Hankins, the BLM’s top bureaucrat in Colorado, has failed to implement President Obama’s common-sense leasing reforms – designed to streamline the leasing process and reduce conflict dramatically by requiring research and analysis be completed prior to leasing.

A recent report from the Center for American Progress pointed out that:

Those reforms called for a better balance between developing oil and gas resources and the protection of other public lands resources, including nearby parks and refuges, wildlife, and historic and archaeological sites. “There is no presumed preference for oil and gas development over other uses,” states the reform document.

In other words, the reforms were meant to drive our local economies with a real balance between protecting public lands to support and attract high-wage businesses to the West, and using them to produce American-made energy – which together support 100,000s of jobs.

In states like Utah and New Mexico – where the BLM offices are implementing the reforms – protests are down, and energy is being produced. That approach is working for industry and conservation interests – and most importantly our communities and our families.

But in Colorado, Hankins has turned the President’s balanced reforms into a broken promise for our communities. Instead of helping oil and gas companies responsibly develop oil and gas resources in the right places, while protecting those lands that drive the economy and attract new business, Hankins continues to rely on decades-old plans and analyses – proposing to allow oil and gas drilling near places like Mesa Verde National Park, and Dinosaur National Monument.

By miring all sides in expensive red tape, Hankins has failed Westerners who are doing everything they can to get back to work and support their families. They expect their government to champion the Western way of life, including use of public lands in a balanced way to support sustainable economic growth.

The Obama administration must correct this failure by taking action to follow the directives in the 2010 leasing reforms now.


Gov. Hickenlooper fails to fine company responsible for toxic Parachute spill

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Yesterday, Gov. Hickenlooper’s department of public health and environment (CDPHE) announced that they won’t levy fines against Williams Cos. for spilling 10,000 barrels of natural gas and toxic waste into Parachute Creek and the surrounding area in western Colorado.

Earlier this month, the Governor lobbied to water-down legislation to toughen fines for oil and gas companies who pollute, despite Colorado’s well-documented problem of spills, and lowest in the nation fines. The Governor’s actions ultimately led to the death of the legislation.

The Parachute spill, which occurred in the winter but wasn’t reported until the spring, has polluted water with cancer-causing benzene. In early May, benzene levels in the creek exceeded the federal safe drinking water standard. 


Gov. Hickenlooper’s ‘order’ to oil and gas commission to review fines an empty gesture

**crossposted at Checks and Balances Project

Recently, Gov. Hickenlooper put on a masterful show of playing a politician who cares about Coloradans. Unfortunately, it was just an act to distract from the fact that Gov. Hickenlooper successfully killed efforts to set mandatory minimum fines and increase caps on fines for oil and gas companies that pollute.  

After killing these measures, aimed at holding polluters accountable, Gov. Hickenlooper put out a press release ordering his oil and gas commission to ‘review enforcement, fines.’ In other words, he directed his commission to take a look into their abysmal record and get back to him. That’s not leadership, it was an empty gesture to cover his tracks.

Gov. Hickenlooper’s press release won't strengthen Colorado’s woefully outdated laws, which include the lowest fines in the nation for polluters.  And it’s doubtful that the governor’s oil and gas commission, which includes oil and gas industry employees, will suddenly become proficient at holding oil and gas polluters accountable. An analysis by the Denver Post found that Colorado rarely fines oil and gas companies who pollute. According to the Coloradoan, less than 7 percent of industry violations since 1996 have resulted in fines.

Last year, the industry reported 402 spills, of which 20 percent contaminated water. Six companies alone accounted for 85 percent of all the spills that contaminated groundwater – Anadarko, Noble Energy, Encana, PDC Energy, WPX Energy and Pioneer Natural Resources.

Not only are polluters not held accountable, but Gov. Hickenlooper has routinely rewarded some of the biggest oil and gas polluters in the state. In 2010 and 2011, Noble Energy caused more spills than any other operator in Colorado – 126.  Yet, Hickenlooper’s oil and gas commission gave Noble an ‘Outstanding Operator’ award.

Gov. Hickenlooper also gave Anadarko an ‘Outstanding Operator’ award in 2011, while last year, Anadarko subsidy Kerr-McGee was linked to 70 spills – more than any other operator – of which, 38 percent resulted in water contamination. With these awards, Gov. Hickenlooper has once again made it clear that he isn’t that interested in holding oil and gas companies accountable when they pollute.

Gov. Hickenlooper used the power of his office to kill stronger standards that would have held the oil and gas industry accountable when they pollute. He chose to put the interests of the industry ahead of what’s best for Colorado families and that’s a shame. Now, Gov. Hickenlooper is insulting Coloradans by acting as the concerned politician.


Five things Gov. Hickenlooper did to put the oil & gas industry ahead of Colorado’s health and water

John-Hickenlooper(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Crossposted at the Checks and Balances Project.

Governor Hickenlooper likes to paint himself as an outsider, unfamiliar with the political process. But his recent actions to undermine public health, water safety – and basic common sense – have proven that Gov. Hickenlooper has become the ultimate insider – adept at helping his billion dollar oil and gas industry boosters cheat the rules, while playing the role of concerned official.

While Governor Hickenlooper has said the he’ll increase fines and hold polluters accountable, behind closed doors he’s actually been working hard to kill or weaken legislation aimed at doing just that.

Case in point: Governor Hickenlooper announces both his campaign for Colorado to be the healthiest state and safe drinking water week, then days later he successfully killed legislation to help protect water from toxic oil and gas spills. Here’s are the five things Gov. Hickenlooper did to put the public health and water of Coloradans at risk and to make it easier for oil and gas companies to pollute. 


Gov. Hickenlooper working overtime to bring toxic waste and pollution to your neighborhood!

A lot’s changed since 1955 when a gallon of gas was about 29 cents. One thing that hasn’t changed are Colorado’s fines for oil and gas drilling violations – despite a huge drilling boom and large increase in spills over the past several years. Under current law, most violations can’t be fined more than a $1,000 per day, with an overall cap of $10,000.


And it turns out that the state rarely enforces these laws. Analyses by the Denver Post and Fort Collins Coloradoan found that that state regulators rarely fine violators who pollute, and less than 7 percent of industry violations since 1996 have resulted in fines.


The Parachute Creek spill, caused by Williams, has polluted soil and water with cancer causing benzene and yet 56 days later, Williams has yet to be fined for polluting and risking public health.


Despite all of this, not only has Governor Hickenlooper failed to stand up for Colorado families and protect public health, but he’s actually working overtime to help make it easier for the oil and gas industry to pollute your water and communities.


According to a new report from the Center for Western Priorities, six oil and gas companies were responsible for 85 percent of all the spills that resulted in water contamination last year. Turns out that Governor Hickenlooper’s ‘besties’ Anadarko Petroleum subsidiary and Noble Energy, Inc. (of the Anadarko-Noble loophole) were two of the six big polluters.


Earlier this week, Fox 31 Denver reported that Gov. Hickenlooper watered down legislation to protect public health and water by strengthening oil and gas drilling violation fines.


Apparently, these laws just aren’t lax enough for Governor Hickenlooper and his oil and gas industry boosters. According to the Fox 31’s news coverage:


Andy White, the governor’s [Hickenlooper] lobbyist on all oil and gas-related legislation…sided Friday with Republicans on the Appropriations Committee and stripped those provisions — the minimum daily fine and the removal of an overall cap on fees — from the bill before sending it to the Senate floor.


Now the question is: Will the state legislature do the right thing – protect public health and water- by holding the oil and gas companies responsible when they pollute or will Gov. Hickenpuppet continue doing the bidding of the oil and gas industry to the detriment to Colorado families and communities?





Western Energy Alliance brazenly flubs facts in new poll

Western Energy Alliance is hard at work spinning their new survey, which underscores the lengths to which they’ll go to increase the profit margins of the billion dollar oil and gas industry – even when that means putting water, public health, and local communities at risk.

WEA announced their new poll a month ago, but just released the results today. Was it because they needed all that time to figure out how to spin the poll?

Unfortunately for WEA, since they included so many factually incorrect statements in the poll, they won’t be able to use their results for much other than spin sessions. And, this isn’t the first time that WEA and their vice president for government affairs, Kathleen Sgamma, haven’t been able to keep their facts straight or master basic grade school multiplication skills.

While WEA’s poll also spins that the public supports hydraulic fracturing, there are already 351 towns and cities across the U.S. that have taken action to limit or ban fracking within their borders.

Here’s a look at some of the most glaring factual errors from the WEA poll materials:

WEaccordingto-the-us-energy-information-administration-production-of-crude-oil-3A claim #1: “The government has prevented oil and natural gas development on federal lands, even though less than one-tenth of 1% of public lands is being used for oil and natural gas today.”

Facts: Both the federal government and industry has aggressively pushed to increase drilling activity on public lands. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, production of crude oil is at its highest level since 2002, and data from the Department of Interior show that oil production on federal lands was up 7 percent in 2012. This is despite the fact that nearly 21 million of the almost 39 million acres of public lands leased to the oil and gas industry sit idle.

WEA claim #2: The oil and gas industry do such a great job cleaning up lands where they’ve drilled that they’re considered wilderness, or pristine areas, post-clean up.

Drilling infrastructure in Wyoming. Source: EcoFlight.

Drilling infrastructure in Wyoming. Source: EcoFlight

Facts: Reports on reclamation efforts in Utah, Wyoming and New York have shown that:

  • – restoration attempts often fail and create long-lasting problems that threaten western wildlife;
  • – companies fail to provide adequately funded bonding, leaving behind billions in clean-up costs for states such as Wyoming; and
  • – the oil and gas industry often fails to plug depleted wells – industry neglected to plug 89 percent of wells in New York.

In fact, a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) analysis pointed to a highly inadequate system for funding clean-up of oil and gas wells on public lands.

WEA claim #3: “Increased energy production of American energy from public lands will lead to lower energy costs for consumers.”

Fact: Unfortunately for WEA’s spin team, experts agree – from BusinessWeek to the Energy Security Leadership Council – that the global market actually drives consumer oil prices, not U.S. production levels, so increased U.S. drilling doesn’t lead to lower energy prices.

Polls are only worth the paper they’re printed on if they fail to relay facts in a straightforward and honest way. Clearly, Western Energy Alliance and the companies they represent such as Anadarko and Noble care more about spin than they do about facts.

Gov. Hickenlooper aiding and abetting billion dollar oil and gas industry to cheat rules that protect public health and water

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Over the past few weeks alone Gov. Hickenlooper has done the bidding of the billion dollar oil and gas industry, to the detriment of Coloradan’s health and water, enough times to make one wonder: just who does he believe he was elected to serve?

Late last week, Gov. Hickenlooper sent his lobbyist to the Capitol to weaken fines for oil and gas spills.

Colorado has the lowest fines in the nation for spills, despite a well-documented problem of spills and water contamination. You don’t have to look much further than the recent Parachute spill for evidence, now on day 53, which has contaminated nearby water and soil with cancer causing benzene and is being investigated by the EPA’s criminal investigations division. Right now, the most that these billion dollar oil and gas companies can fined for breaking the law when they spill is $10,000 – hardly a slap on the wrist and definitely not an incentive to follow the law.

Earlier this year, Hickenlooper’s oil and gas commission created the Anadarko-Noble loophole, which makes it easier for billion dollar oil and gas companies to pollute water in an area along the Front Range that’s home to more than 25 percent of  Colorado’s oil and gas wells and more than half of the most recent spills reported. All eyes are now on the Colorado State Legislature to see if legislation sponsored by Rep. Hullinghorst to overturn the Anadarko-Noble loophole will pass, and avoid a Hickenlooper veto. 


Rep. Hullinghorst working to end Hickenlooper Anadarko-Noble loophole – which puts Colorado’s water at risk

**Crossposted at the Checks and Balances Project


Gov. Hickenlooper likes to tout Colorado’s oil and gas rules as a national model, saying that the state has found the middle ground on development. Unfortunately, his administration’s Anadarko-Noble loophole is another example of Gov. Hickenlooper putting the profits of the oil and gas industry ahead of Coloradans. The good news is that champions for local communities, like Rep. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, are stepping in to try and fix problems like the loophole.

The Anadarko-Noble loophole provides an industry exemption from state water testing rules – already criticized as weakest in the nation – in northern Colorado, despite the fact that this is where some of the most intensive oil and gas drilling operations are located.

The loophole weakens state water testing rules in the Greater Wattenberg Area – near homes and farms in Adams, Boulder, Larimer, and Weld counties – which is home to more than 25 percent of Colorado’s oil and gas wells and some of the most intense growth in drilling activity.

As a result, it will be harder to detect water contamination and to figure out which well(s) are the source of contamination in the very region that needs these public safety standards the most. That’s not good news for Coloradans. In 2012, industry reported 402 spills in state, of which 20 percent resulted in water contamination, and just last month, a huge spill near Parachute creek contaminated nearby soil and water with cancer causing benzene.

The Anadarko-Noble loophole is part of a disturbing pattern by Gov. Hickenlooper of putting oil and gas industry profits ahead of what’s best for Coloradans. Remember the industry paid-for-ad in which Gov. Hickenlooper claimed that Colorado hadn’t had a single instance of ground water contamination from oil and gas drilling, despite evidence to the contrary (58 cases of groundwater contamination in 2011 alone)? Or how Gov. Hickenlooper said his hands were tied for suing Longmont for protecting the health of its residents from fracking?

Today the Colorado House Health, Insurance & Environment Committee will consider HB 1316, legislation that would close the Anadarko-Noble loophole and take a step in the right direction towards protecting our water and our communities. Let’s hope that the committee members will be representing the Coloradans they were elected to serve and not Big Oil and Gas when they vote on HB 1316.



Colorado BLM drilling 101: Putting our water, farms and national parks at risk

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Recently, Bureau of Land Management Colorado State Director Helen Hankins has established a disturbing and dangerous trend in her approach to oil and gas leasing on public lands.

This new infographic illustrates how Dir. Hankins consistently proposes controversial drilling plans and then after public outcry, temporarily halts the leases – only to put the leases back on the auction block months later.

Proposing oil and gas leasing in the midst of Denver’s drinking water sources or next to Dinosaur National Monument doesn’t make sense, and it isn’t good for Colorado.

We need Colorado BLM and Dir. Hankins to change course and pursue a smart, balanced approach to energy development and public lands management that doesn’t put local economies and communities at risk.

Read more about Dir. Hankins’ controversial oil and gas leasing proposals.

Colorado BLM communication director ducks issues, local concerns on controversial drilling plans

This week Steven Hall, Communications Director for the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Colorado State Director Helen Hankins, lashed out at the Checks and Balances Project for questioning his boss’s land use decisions. Unfortunately, rather than offer a counterpoint, or even simply more information, Hall ducked the issue, preferring to play the victim.

According to Scott Streater's story in E&E, Hall says, Checks and Balances Project "have substituted personal attacks for public debate." Anyone who reads our recent post on this issue – or any of our posts on Colorado BLM – can see that we stick to policy and focus on facts. Facts being what Hall failed to reference in his emotional response to our latest post.

This isn’t the first time that Hall has used rhetoric to avoid substance when discussing critical drilling and leasing issues. When Hall was asked about proposed drilling parcels within yards of schools and straddling irrigation ditches that many organic farms rely upon, he flippantly commented that the leases were probably controversial because: “…if you walk out of the High Country News with your cup of herbal tea you can see some of these parcels.” Hall’s response dismissed valid concerns from residents, business owners, farmers and ranchers about fracking’s impacts on their water and lands.

Even after these sensitive leases were deferred last February, in response to public outcry, Hall said: “The deferral is not permanent.”

Under Dir. Helen Hankins’ watch, Colorado BLM has a disturbing record of offering drilling leases on sensitive land, at the behest of big oil and gas interests. In 2012, they proposed leases near Dinosaur National Monument and Mesa Verde National Park – against the wishes of the National Park Service (NPS), Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and La Plata County officials. Perhaps this is why, according to the Wilderness Society, Dir. Hankins’ policies have resulted in protests against 85 percent of Colorado leases in fiscal year 2012, compared to 33 percent throughout the rest of the Rocky Mountain region.




Colorado BLM using stalling tactic at Mesa Verde, new drilling proposals could come back this summer

Is Colorado BLM Director Helen Hankins backpedaling on decisions to halt controversial drilling plans next to Mesa Verde National Park, Dinosaur National Monument, and in the North Fork Valley?

Barely a month after deferring oil and gas leasing decisions, Dir. Hankins’ staff are showing signs she is planning to welch on her office’s commitment to protect national parks and the heart of North Fork’s economic and agricultural center.

Earlier this week, the Durango Herald reported that:

[Connie] Clementson [Field Manager of the BLM Tres Rios office] made clear that the decision to defer the leases in Southwest Colorado does not take that land off the table for future development. After the BLM answers all the protests received about the lease sale, the land could be renominated for leasing as soon as August or November, Clementson said.

The Tres Rios field office manages lands near Mesa Verde National Park. The National Park Service criticized Dir. Hankins plans to offer leases for drilling on these lands and cited the lack of coordination by her staff.

When BLM announced the oil and gas deferrals near North Fork’s agricultural community, the Montrose Daily Press reported the following comments by Colorado BLM Communications Director Stephen Hall:

The deferral is not permanent, but the parcels won’t be offered for lease any time soon, said Steve Hall, communications director for the BLM in Colorado. “We didn’t put a timeframe on it. It’s safe to say we aren’t going to have them up (for bid) in the near future,” he said. “But we didn’t do what some had asked, which is defer them until the new resource management plan.

Dir. Hankins already deferred those North Fork leases earlier in 2012, then reinstated most of them after the public scrutiny died down. Is that what she’s doing now? And does Dir. Hankins plan to reoffer these same, heavily protested leases based on 30-year-old data?  Instead of being a real estate agent for Big Oil and driving-up speculation on public lands, Hankins should do the right thing and put our national parks, water and local economies on equal ground with oil and gas development.









Economics and geology driving factors behind where drilling happens, not policy

Colorado just had a record breaking year for oil production. According to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission director, the state has “been adding at least 2,000 new wells per year for the past nine years.” Oil production in the U.S. is at the highest levels in 20 years. New Department of Interior data shows oil production on federal lands is up 7 percent in 2012.

But these facts haven’t stopped the oil and gas industry and their supporters, like Rep. Doug Lamborn, from spinning tall tales about how red tape and the Obama Adminstration are putting up obstacles to drilling. (Speaking of tall tales, Rep. Lamborn chairs a subcommittee hearing next week, where he’ll likely peddle additional taxpayer-funded handouts to Big Oil for more failed oil shale speculation on public lands as key to our energy future.)

A new report from the Center for Western Priorities (CWP) – Follow the Oil – shows that industry claims that the Obama Administration is putting up obstacles to drilling don’t hold up.  It turns out that technology, geology and price are the key factors that drive where and how much industry drills.

According to the report:

“A combination of low natural gas prices and new shale extraction techniques inspired industry to look toward a more profitable commodity: shale oil. As a result, oil and gas companies moved their operations to areas where shale oil was abundant and offer the greatest potential profit.

The large majority of shale oil plays exist under nonfederal lands. Even in the Rocky Mountain West, where more federal land is located, 89 percent of the shale oil and mixed oil and gas plays are under nonfederal lands.”

Check out this map from Follow the Oil –which clearly shows that most oil and gas plays are located on nonfederal lands.


Center for Western Priorities, Follow the Oil, March 2013

Read the complete report.