Poll Shows Coloradans Support Oil and Natural Gas Development
A new poll out from the Center for Western Priorities shows that a majority of Coloradans support responsible oil and natural gas development in the state.
Support for production stood at 53 percent while “keep in the ground” policies stood at only 19 percent.
The industry forms a key cornerstone of the Colorado economy and financing for public services like education. In 2017, oil and gas companies and their 30,000 employees added $13.5 billion to Colorado’s GDP and contributed almost $1 billion in state and local tax revenue, including 81 percent of the funds distributed by the School Trust.
Despite the strength of the sector, two prominent Colorado Democrats have backed presidential candidates who want to prohibit new development. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has made a ban on fracking one of the centerpieces of her presidential campaign and has picked up the support of a key Western Slope Democrat.
In a tweet announcing her endorsement, Colorado State Senator Kerry Donovan called Warren “a champion for working families” and praised her commitment to “boost the economy of rural Colorado.”
But Donovan’s rural, Western Slope district relies heavily on the oil and gas industry to support the local economy. Warren however has taken aim at development on federal lands and fracking.
“On my first day as president, I will sign an executive order that puts a total moratorium on all new fossil fuel leases for drilling offshore and on public lands. And I will ban fracking—everywhere,” Warren tweeted last month.
Gunnison and Delta Counties lie at the heart of Donovan’s district and they produced more than 2.5 million cubic feet of natural gas combined in 2018, according to the U.S. Interior Department.
Donovan’s district also borders Garfield county, one of the most productive areas of the state and vital to all of Western Colorado. In 2018, it produced 176 million cubic feet of gas and nearly 500,000 barrels of oil.
Rural areas of the state especially depend on the oil and gas industry to fund education, infrastructure, and other public services.
The Rural Schools alliance, which represents 147 schools districts across the state including many in Donovan’s district, opposed Prop 112 last year. That ballot initiative would have greatly increased the setback distance of production sites and significantly curbed the revenue flowing into local governments.
Likewise, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has picked up the endorsement of prominent Colorado State Representative Emily Sirota, who represents a Denver-based district, a city that’s home to dozens of oil and gas companies and supporting firms. Her district also includes Arapahoe County which produced more than 4 million cubic feet of natural gas.
“We must ban all fracking,” Sanders tweeted last month.
Sirota cited Sanders support for the Green New Deal as crucial to her endorsement.
In an analysis last month, the Wall Street Journal highlighted the call to ban fracking by Warren and Bernie Sanders, saying the position could hurt Democrats in next year’s elections. Like Colorado, the Journal cited Pennsylvania as a key political swing state with a large oil and gas industry and that a massive cut to fossil fuel production could trigger a two-year recession.