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March 11, 2024 01:14 PM UTC

New Election Year, Same Old Big Oil BS

  • by: Colorado Pols

Friday night, 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger fact-checked an ad from the American Petroleum Institute that has been in heavy rotation in recent days including the local broadcast of the Academy Awards last night. It’s another ad darkly warning that Democrats in the Colorado legislature are “pushing the most extreme anti-energy bills in state history,” echoing the perennial claim from the fossil fuel industry that they are being “destroyed” rather than simply better regulated or, heaven forbid, actually deprioritized to better address more publicly important issues like pollution and climate change. In 2019, the industry similarly warned that Senate Bill 19-181, that year’s landmark reform of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission would “shut down” the oil and gas industry, only to admit quietly later that was a bunch of hyperbolic hooey.

[T]he main bill referenced in this ad, Senate Bill 24-159 would reduce the number of new oil and gas well permits in 2028 and 2029 and then ban new well permits in 2030.

AD CLAIM: “A total ban on new oil and natural gas development.”

VERDICT: Yes, Senate Bill 24-159 would ban new oil and gas wells starting in 2030, however, even Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development states that after drilling, wells can produce for 20 to 40 years…

In the process, this ad makes several of the wildly grandiose claims about the economic benefits of oil and gas industry in Colorado that we’ve debunked in this space repeatedly over the years. First of all, as Zelinger notes above, ending new well permits will not “end oil and gas production” in Colorado, since existing wells would continue to produce for decades. But that’s far from the biggest falsehood from the API in this ad:

As for the 300,000 local jobs claim, that is a big stretch.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there are closer to 20,000 direct oil and gas jobs in Colorado…[t]he 300,000 job statistics takes into account those direct jobs and indirect jobs, like a neighborhood gas station.


Banning new wells in Colorado does not mean local gas station employees lose their jobs.

The oil and gas industry has exaggerated its economic footprint in Colorado for many years by falsely extending the definition of “oil and gas jobs” to include hundreds of thousands of service economy jobs with little or nothing to do with the production or sale of oil and gas. In truth, industries adversely affected by oil and gas production like tourism employ many more Coloradans. Nobody is suggesting that the fossil fuel industry has no economic value, it’s just the estimate of the industry’s value that is dreadfully overstated–and yes, once you understand that, priorities naturally are going to shift.

But the biggest problem with this ad, the problem that draws its very existence into question, is the simple fact that this bill is never going to become law and API knows it:

The main bill that the ad targets will either die in committee or never make it out of the Senate chamber, based on conversations 9NEWS has had with several people inside the Capitol. [Pols emphasis]

Every year, lawmakers are allowed to introduce (with some exceptions) five pieces of legislation, and under the rules of the General Assembly every introduced bill is required to have a fair hearing and a vote. That does not in any way mean that legislation enjoys majority support. The oil and gas lobby at the Capitol is surely aware that this bill doesn’t have the votes to pass, and even if it did would not be signed by Gov. Jared Polis who–debate this separately–has never supported a blanket prohibition on new oil and gas permits. Despite the falsehoods spread about Senate Bill 19-181, that bill was never intended to “shut down oil and gas in Colorado,” and unsurprisingly it hasn’t.

So why spend the money running this ad? That’s simple: to scare voters. To reinforce false tropes about Colorado Democrats and the state’s policy of transition to renewable energy without having to name a candidate. Despite the fossil industry’s constant claims to be one small hurdle away from economic ruin, their war chest to run these alarmist ads in election years is always up to the task.


2 thoughts on “New Election Year, Same Old Big Oil BS

  1. The U.S. produced more crude oil each year for the past 6 years than any other country in history.

    In 2023, American wells produced an average of 12.9 million barrels of crude every day. The previous record in 2019 was also set by the U.S.


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