There’s an old and unfortunate truth about Washington, D.C.: “If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re probably on the menu.”

For the past eight years, the Obama administration’s “keep-it-in-the-ground” policies have kept the oil and gas industry “on the menu” and stymied responsible energy development and threatened to make energy more expensive for families all across the West.

Fortunately, much has changed with the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. The new administration, along with Republican majorities in the House and Senate, provide a real opportunity to enact pro-growth policies that get Washington out of the way of America’s energy producers.

Tom Pyle

Unleashing our country’s energy resources was an integral part of President Trump’s economic pitch to the American people, and after only two months in office, it appears he’s following through on that commitment.

For example, one of President Trump’s first actions was reviving the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines — signaling that he is serious about delivering affordable energy to American families, invigorating the economy, and creating more opportunities for future generations. Additionally, the president has signaled that opening up more federal lands across the West, evaluating taxpayer-funded green energy subsidies, and reining in unelected Washington bureaucrats are all on his menu of promoting affordable energy.

More recently, the Trump administration released its budget blueprint for 2018. In this proposal, the administration calls for the Interior department to eliminate funding for “unnecessary or duplicative programs,” while focusing resources on responsibly developing America’s energy resources on public lands.

This is welcome news to a state like Colorado, where energy production is a critical driver of economic growth. In fact, according to the most recent edition of Resource Rich Colorado, an annual study published by Denver Metro Economic Development Corp, there are 44,370 direct fossil fuels workers supporting an additional 118,020 indirect workers, with an economic impact of $10.3 billion. In 2015, the average annual salary for a fossil fuels worker in Colorado was $106,996. With that level of economic impact, it is critical that there are policies in place that encourage more energy development, not discourage it.

However, while the tenant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has changed, the radical “keep-it-in-the ground” campaign remains.

In recent years, Colorado has become a hotbed for this campaign, which is dedicated to ending the use of our most affordable and reliable energy resources. Last fall, my organization released a report exploring the dangers of this effort and analyzing the ramifications of their agenda. It’s clear that promoting hydraulic fracturing bans; monstrous drilling setbacks, unattainable ozone standards; and ending oil and gas development on federal lands is just the first course for this extreme and radical movement.

Some may brush off these protesters on television as mere agitators, but it’s what’s happening behind the scenes that should concern Westerners who care about low-cost energy for their family and jobs that keep the state’s economy moving forward.

The “keep-it-in-the-ground” campaign isn’t a ragtag group of activists, but rather a highly organized, multi-million dollar effort by the national environmental lobby. If successful, this campaign will rob Westerners of the jobs, opportunities for future generations, and the energy we all need to work and grow the economy.

While the Trump administration’s platform presents an opportunity, change doesn’t come easy. We have the resources, we have the technology, and we have the men and women ready to go to work. All we need are the right policies in place. That’s why it’s critical that Westerners and all Americans make sure their voices are heard in Washington.

Fortunately, the facts and intellectual ammunition are on our side. The key is to utilize that information to educate administration officials, lawmakers, state leaders, and the American people so they embrace a pro-energy, pro-growth platform with one voice.

Only then can we steer the conversation towards policies that favor affordable energy for American families and ensure affordable energy has its place at the table, and not on the menu.

Thomas Pyle is the President of the Institute for Energy Research and the American Energy Alliance and led President Trump’s Department of Energy transition and landing teams.