The oil and natural gas industry in Colorado received bipartisan support today at a state capitol event where both Republicans and Democrats backed operators in the face of growing political and regulatory challenges.

The Thursday event at the Capitol in Denver hosted by the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA) and the American Petroleum Institute to correspond with the start of the 2020 legislative session. A packed room of industry representatives gathered in the midst of a multi-year campaign by anti-oil and gas political leaders and activists in the state aiming to shut down oil and gas companies.

State Rep. Hugh McKean

Collaboration with various local, country, and state officials has been key for the industry in overcoming these headwinds and the event featured one of the three Democrats who voted against SB-181 in 2019. State Rep. Bri Buentello of Pueblo recalled at the event how her family settled in Colorado after her husband left the military and found a job with the industry.

“When people talk about this industry, I try to remind them that you’re talking about my family, you’re talking about the way I pay my mortgage, you’re talking about the way I buy groceries,” Buentello said, who also noted the massive contribution in tax revenue from the industry to fund schools, roads, parks and water infrastructure.

State Sen. Ray Scott, a Republican who represents a top-producing region on the Western Slope, applauded the industry for standing strong in the face of opposition.

Scott said that “181 was a very difficult battle. But you’re still standing and that’s what’s critical. You’re not giving up. I think there was a certain group within this building who thought you would fold your tent and go home. That hasn’t happened. Thank you, thank you, thank you for not doing that.”

State Rep. Larry Liston noted that he sat through long hearings on SB-181 and that he was a staunch opponent of the bill as were all Republicans.

“I can assure you everyone on my side of the aisle is your friend. All my colleagues on the House side of the aisle are with you a 110 percent,” Liston said.

A second Democrat, State Rep. Mary Young, also spoke at the event. She represents part of Weld County – the largest producing county in the state.

“I am a member of the Democratic Party, but I have lived for over 38 years, and so I understand the importance of the oil and gas industry as an essential economic driver of my community,” Young said.

State Rep. Hugh McKean said he’s a “huge fan of the 21st century” because of the benefits oil and gas brings like easily heating homes.

“Thank you for all that you do so that when I get out of bed in the morning my house isn’t freezing cold and I don’t have to go start a fire,” McKean said.

The industry successfully defeated a ballot initiative in 2018, Proposition 112, that would have increased setback distances but after Democrats took full control of state government, they passed SB-181 – a massive overhaul of industry regulations that’s led to local moratoria around the state and complex new set of rules to navigate. Colorado Rising, the activist group who sponsored the ballot initiative two years, has since returned in the New Year to launch a new set of measures aimed at pinning back the industry.