Top Western leaders and key Congressional members will be meeting in Denver on Friday to discuss energy policy and the economic impacts of the oil and natural gas industry on the local and federal level, Western Wire has learned.

The Western Energy Forum, hosted by the Western Caucus Foundation, will feature discussions about the benefits the oil and natural gas industry delivers to local communities and the importance of pursuing an “all of the above” energy policy, among other topics, according to the agenda.

“We have a great line up of Congressional Caucus members, current and former Department of the Interior Officials and policy experts to discuss America’s energy renaissance and what it means to American energy consumers and how it helps state and local governments provide greater benefits and lower taxes,” Darrell Henry, Executive Director of the Western Caucus Foundation told Western Wire.

Joe Balash, Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, U.S. Department of the Interior, will join several Congressional representatives from the West including, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) and Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) in making remarks.

The heads of several of the top energy groups in the West, including Dan Haley, President of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, Amy Oliver Cooke, Executive Vice President at the Independence Institute and Kathleen Sgamma, President of the Western Energy Alliance will discuss how local communities and residents have benefitted from the shale boom and ensuing energy renaissance.  In Colorado alone, it is estimated that the oil and gas industry pays more than $300 million annually in severance taxes.  Western Wire is a project of the Western Energy Alliance.

The agenda also notes an opportunity for attendees to take part in a field tour of natural gas drilling sites in the Aurora, Colo. area.  Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Gosar emphasized the importance of visiting local sites first hand when developing legislation that impacts the regions in question.

“I know how important it is that Members of Congress get the on-the-ground experience of the states, the areas and the issues for which we are crafting federal legislation,” Gosar told Western Wire.  “Ultimately, you can read white papers and think-tank reports day-in and day-out, but if a legislator doesn’t see things in-person as a trip like this provides, they’ll lack something fundamental to grasping a given problem.”

“We all are looking forward to watching American energy at work when we visit natural gas drill sites and can’t wait for a very productive roundtable discussion with Colorado stakeholders. The Caucus is here to learn and to take something back with us to Congress so when we go write and debate laws, we’re more effective and informed in the process and know the real challenges facing local communities,” Gosar continued.

The Western Caucus Foundation was established in 2013.  The group lists four joint principles on its website, including: promoting access to energy sources and promoting the U.S. as a global energy leader, a focus on state and local environmental solutions that “put communities first,” promoting agriculture and forestry by supporting affordable and abundant food production and creating healthy forests, and a focus on judicial and regulatory reform to “lev[el] the playing field for states, local governments, businesses, and individuals.”