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July 24, 2008 07:59 PM UTC

Dems Leverage Oil and Gas "Windfall"

  • by: Colorado Pols

Several prominent Colorado Democrats blasted the oil and gas industry yesterday in a press release (follows), noting the industry’s record profits at the same time they are fighting new drilling rules.

Says House Majority Leader Alice Madden, “is an industry that continues to make record profits while Coloradoans are getting stiffed at the pump every week. Despite their hollow claims to the contrary, it is clear that oil and gas corporations can well afford the small effort it takes to protect our water, our wildlife, and our communities.”

More information:

Wally White, La Plata County Commissioner, 970-382-6217                                    

Tim Sarmo, Palisade Town Administrator, 970-464-5602

Alice Madden, House Majority Leader, 303-589-2560

Elise Jones, Colorado Environmental Coalition, 303-885-4273

Oil and Gas Industry Reaping Windfall in Colorado

But drillers object to protecting Colorado’s drinking water and public health

DENVER, Colo. – This week, oil and gas companies will release second quarter earnings statements that show Colorado operators continue to make handsome profits for their shareholders.  

At the same time, an industry-funded public relations campaign has flooded television, radio and print media with ads that say updating rules to protect Colorado’s water, wildlife and public health would cause them to fire thousands of employees.

Now, as the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission prepares to deliberate on a final set of rules, sportsmen and conservation groups are calling on the oil and gas industry to agree to protections to our drinking water and public health from the impacts of the accelerating gas boom.

These protections have received support from local elected officials who are dealing with impacts in the gas patch.

“We need to take a balanced look at this and everyone needs to understand the importance of protecting municipal water supplies,” said Tim Sarmo, Palisade’s Town Administrator. “While industry may feel they can do this safely, there are no guarantees, and in the absence of guarantees we need regulations sufficient to protect water first.”

In April, an unknown chemical poisoned a Durango nurse when she treated a worker doused with drilling fluids in a gas field accident. Her treatment was hindered by a lack of information about what she was exposed to. The industry is objecting to a proposed new rule that requires drillers and other well-field operators to disclose what chemicals they use.

This month, a Haliburton executive told the oil and gas commission that the company would reduce its operations in the state if it were required to disclose the ingredients of its hydraulic fracturing fluids. Fracturing fluids are comprised of water and various chemicals that injected underground at high pressures through well bores to break rock formations and release natural gas. “It is much like asking Coca-Cola to disclose the formula of Coke,” said Haliburton’s Ron Heyden.

Coke, however, prints all of its ingredients on every can.

“It’s common sense – drilling companies should be required to disclose their proprietary chemicals immediately to qualified emergency and medical personnel,” said Wally White, a La Plata County Commissioner. “Unfortunately, they’re not doing that now. We also want to see restrictions on the use of toxic chemicals in drilling fluids because they can contaminate local drinking water supplies.”  

Another one of industry’s major goals has been the elimination of wildlife rules backed by than 70 Colorado groups designed to protect wildlife and critical habitat during energy development. The guidelines, unanimously approved by the Colorado Legislature, directed state officials to develop regulation to assure the needs of wildlife are factored in before energy development begins.

Over the past 10 years, the number of drilling permits issued by the state each year has increased seven-fold to 7,000. Colorado already has 34,000 active wells, and industry projects it will drill at least 100,000 more. Studies have repeatedly shown that without proper safeguards, wildlife populations plummet near major gas-field operations.

This week, major oil companies began reporting second-quarter profits. Conoco, the third-largest U.S. oil company by market value reported net income of $5.44 billion compared with $4.81 billion a year earlier. XTO Energy, which has significant Colorado holdings, reported total revenues of $1.94 billion for the second quarter, a 46% increase from $1.33 billion the prior year. In June, Williams, which recently acquired 24,000 more acres in the Piceance Basin, upped its projected 2008 earnings by 34 percent.

“This is an industry that continues to make record profits while Coloradoans are getting stiffed at the pump every week,” said State House Majority Leader Alice Madden.  “Despite their hollow claims to the contrary, it is clear that oil and gas corporations can well afford the small effort it takes to protect our water, our wildlife, and our communities.”

The oil and gas rulemaking will resume Aug. 12, when commissioners meet to begin deliberating on the rules.



6 thoughts on “Dems Leverage Oil and Gas “Windfall”

  1. So a release was issued yesterday, and no link to any coverage in the media?  That’s like a tree in the forest with no one around…

  2. I have some oil and gas in my 401-K, and its not as big a money maker as these socialists think.   You can do better in many areas when you figure it on an across the board earnings to dollar your 401 has invested.

  3. Who do you think takes the hit when a well is a dry hole?  These companies who are making all these profits and dumping the profits into R&D and leases on properties.  

    Alice Madden is drinking her bath water…where is her proof that oil and gas companies are making a small effort to protect our water, our wildlife and our communities?

    Liberals whine, whine, whine!


    1. Proof is emergency care workers nearly being killed after incidental exposure to chemical vapors when treating a gas patch worker.

      Proof is an outfitter needing to be admitted to the hospital with Benzene poisoning after drinking water out of his tap.

      Proof is the thousands of acres of wildlife habitat that is being destroyed each year.


      Proof is the skyrocketing number service calls for the Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office. (sorry, blame the GJS for the fee)

      Proof is the Associated Governments of NW Colorado (an obvious “liberal” organization) commissioning a socioeconomic study that tells us that our local communities will not be able to afford the costs of the boom.

      The industry is making hand over fist and only cares about its bottom line.  It is those of us living here that must deal with the degredation of our quality of life and their constant mistakes and malfeasance.  Furthermore, quit quoting the industry talking points, look past the rhetoric and learn the facts.  

      I thank Alice Madden for helping us out from afar.  It is unfortunate that our elected officials out here fiddle while the Piceance burns.  I only hope that others in the legislature will follow her lead and stand up for the people and not faceless multinational corporations looking to make a buck off our backs.  

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