By Kelly Brough, President and CEO of the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce, Diedra Garcia, President and CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Denver and Tamra Ward, President and CEO of Colorado Concern.
We shouldn’t have to choose between the energy we need, the environment we love and the economy we deserve. Thankfully in Colorado, we know we don’t have to.
The stakes are high when it comes to energy production in Colorado. Tapping into our energy resources is a huge economic driver that creates jobs, infuses funds into local communities and schools and brings us closer to energy independence as a country. But, it’s also something we have to do thoughtfully in order to protect our precious environment.
In recent years, advances in technology have allowed us to unlock energy resources from rock deep beneath the surface that was previously thought to be nearly impossible to access. The effectiveness of this new technology has contributed to job growth in the energy sector, an increase in the production of clean burning natural gas right here at home and taxes for schools and local communities to the tune over one and a half billion dollars per year.
The resulting resurgence of natural gas production also means new rules, regulations, studies and monitoring to ensure that after decades of production in Colorado, it continues to be safe for our environment. In fact, Colorado’s new energy and environmental regulations are considered best practice nationally and internationally. They are stringent and, because they aren’t cemented in the Constitution, can be changed based on information from scientific studies and the development of new technology in the future. If need be, they can be modified to ensure greater protection of our land, air and water.
The stable and well-paying jobs created by the oil and natural gas industry provide a solid base for thousands of families and their communities. As business leaders, we know a good job goes a long way toward solving many of the most pressing issues for everyday Coloradans. The energy economy is a direct contributor, both as a job creator and tax payer. The thousands of dollars in new output are finding their way into our schools and improving other critical infrastructure such as roads and community services.
University of Colorado Leeds School of Business economists found that oil and gas operations support more than 110,000 jobs in Colorado, contributing nearly $30 billion in economic output annually. This economic jumpstart has kept Colorado insulated from some of the worst effects of the recession that have befallen other states across the nation. When individuals and families, especially in our minority and disadvantaged communities have job opportunities, we are all better prepared to care for those who may be slipping through the cracks.
We know we don’t have to choose between protecting our economy and protecting our environment. In Colorado, we have a long history of finding solutions and working together. And energy production is no exception. When done right, we can continue to tap this vital resource while also protecting the environment that brought so many of us to Colorado in the first place.
We hope that you will take the time to learn more about the energy industry and what it means for Colorado. Once you separate fact from fiction, you will see that we have a real opportunity for economic development that will benefit our communities for generations to come.
Brough, Garcia, and Ward are members of the Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development (CRED) Advisory Board Committee. Learn more at www.StudyFracking.com