Our View: Utah Gas Decision Encouraging, but What About Colorado?

May 11, 2012

Knock us over with a feather.  Colorado’s own bolo-tie wearing Secretary of the Interior actually made a decision that involves multiple use of public lands in the West.  By approving a 10-year drilling program in Utah’s Uintah Basin this week, Secretary Salazar has given the green light to Anadarko Petroleum Corporation’s plan to develop as many as 3,700 wells on 163,000 acres of public land.

For struggling energy contractors in western Colorado, the news has been greeted with open arms.  As a regional energy hub, Grand Junction based companies have been forced to pivot across the state line to deploy their teams of trucks, rigs workers and expertise since Barack Obama was swept in to the White House.

We’re the first to say bully! for Utah.  The constant pressure brought to bear on the Department of Interior from their governor and members of the Utah congressional delegation was most certainly a factor in seeing this project move forward.

Back home in Colorado, we’re left wondering why the only action we see being taken on public lands projects in our state is to further restrict or indefinitely delay any type of action (think oil shale PEIS, North Fork Valley leasing, Roan Plateau, Vermilion Basin, etc.).

Perhaps we are the only ones baffled by the current de facto policy in Colorado that leaves companies based here reliant upon the pro-growth policies of surrounding states to make their payroll each and every month. With a Coloradan in charge of public lands in the West and a petroleum geologist in charge of the State of Colorado, one could be forgiven for assuming that jobs and energy security might actually trump political party for once.

When and if Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper finds time to remember what it’s like to be an unemployed energy worker, instead of a silver spoon Democrat party insider, perhaps he’ll be just as emotional at press conferences as he is when weighing the plight of those hell bent on passing a civil unions bill in Colorado.

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