( – promoted by Colorado Pols)
By now it is a tired refrain, that Republican candidates apparently still view as golden, to bemoan the death of the oil and gas industry in Colorado. They then lay the perennial and predictable problems wrought by the cyclic and highly volatile nature of commodity economies at the feet of today’s Democrats, from Governor to President to Representatives and Legislators and County Commissioners.
For the most part media in Colorado report this without providing much context or analysis to help the reader judge its veracity. And so, for some or more, falsehoods become established as fact.
Thus GOP candidates, from wannabe governors to wannabe congressmen, are free and clear to cry about the plight of the oil and gas industry–still among the world’s richest–whenever jobs or the economy are mentioned without fear of having their flaming rhetoric hosed down with reality.
Some of the ‘New Media’ journalistic outlets, like Colorado Independent and Real Vail provide in-depth reporting that makes these types of connections. But far to often stories print what these politicians say without an apparent second thought.
So you have Cory Gardner (gunning to replace Betsy Markey in Congress), portraying the new rules as “driving oil and gas business out of the state.”
Republican Rep. Cory Gardner of Yuma said the oil and gas industries have created 7,000 jobs and $23 billion in revenue annually for Colorado, yet as a result of state regulations on the industry, Weld County will lose 50 percent of its revenue from the industry.
“We plucked the goose that laid the golden egg,” said Gardner, who proposed leaving options on the table for energy rather than removing them.
The “job killing rules” as Gardner referred to the state regulations, are driving oil and gas business out of the state.
Meanwhile an erstwhile energy giant lobbyist, Scott McInnis, has made it the center of his ‘Just scream No!’ campaign, until Ritter pulled the carpet out. Still as McInnis 2.0 reboots, I doubt it’ll abandon this
industry cause now, which the franchise has long benefitted from supported.
And while GOP candidate from big to small all find ample opportunity to parrot this nonsense, over and over, and which most newspapers dutifully
transcribe report, it is more difficult to find analysis that considers the merit of these claims.
Such analysis would provide a nice service, perhaps befitting what was once nobly called the ‘Fourth Estate,’ in helping to hold candidates accountable to the meaning of their words.
Consider this article in the Aspen Times family of papers, which provides some comparisons between 2008 and 2009 for
Gasfield Garfield County:
According to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission website, Garfield County produced more than 390 billion cubic feet (bcf) of natural gas through the month of October 2009, compared to more than 520 bcf for all of 2008, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
The number of well permits issued in Garfield County in 2009, according to the commission, was 1,981, compared to 2,888 issued in 2008.
This is good information (specific data) from a reliable source (the state) and easily verifiable (available to all members of the media and public).
McInnis contended that Ritter administration policies have cost even more Coloradans their jobs than would have been lost during the national recession.
McInnis cited recently enacted oil and gas rules that he called “the toughest anti-drilling regulations in the United States.”
The oil and gas industry historically provides tens of thousands of Colorado jobs, McInnis said, but he charged that Ritter “decided to shove them out the door.”
How difficult would it be for reporters to do their jobs and not just scribble down whatever a candidate says? Would it help remove the utter nonsense and falsehoods that permeate political discourse, or at least provide a filter? To often these questions are of the hypothetical.
Some of you might have caught this diary that included an apparent email exchange with Dan Maes, who was arguing based on an industry report and rig numbers that Colorado’s oil and gas regulations have resulted in a 70% decline in industry activity.
Here is what I noted, in the comments then, and which might have been a useful line of questioning for the candidate directly:
In order to assume a direct correlation between the oil and gas regulations and rig count in CO v. rig count nationwide during whatever period, one would have to isolate the regulations as the only differing factor.
That is unadulterated silliness, and one would hope that someone running as the savvy businessman would get this.
Here are some of the factors that Mr. Maes would have to account for, and neutralize, in order to make his tidy little comparison:
Other plays–their size, availability, accessibility and infrastructure; specific return per tcf of other plays v. the Piceance.
World commodity prices–NatGas is glutted on the market, especially in North America.
Recession–Credit is hard to come by, especially for development that lacks the pipelines and other infrastructures, that have further to go to market, etc.
I am glad to see the rise of ‘New Media’–from Jon Stewart to Colorado Pols–but until mainstream institutions take this job back upon themselves, I worry that politics will continue to be populated by the tragically uniformed and the cynically manipulative.
The facts are pretty clearly spelled out in the Aspen Times piece, but it doesn’t mention any tie in with the political rhetoric polluting the issue in most other articles, nor do those other–more plentiful–articles mention the facts reported here, that we easily distill with a little figuring:
Twitty’s attempt at math
Projecting 468 bcf produced gas in 2009-derived by dividing 390 by ten (months) and then adding (39*2 months) to arrive at an annualized number–then dividing that by 520 bcf (2008 production) * 100 to show that:
Colorado produced about 90% of the natural gas in 2009 as it did in 2008.
For development (rather than production) we can do similar simple calculations (Twitty’s limit) to compare the number of drilling permits issued. Here we find that:
68% of the number of drilling permits was issued by the state in 2009 as were issued in 2008, down about 31%.
Thus Colorado’s production and development figures are down less than the overall decrease in commodity prices. Can we now expect Scott McInnis or Cory Gardner to consider these numbers, Colorado’s actually production and development figures, before spouting off to garner a few more votes? If no one calls them on it–yes.