Energy Resources Too Important To Waste

Bob Beauprez
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Posted: Aug 13, 2012 12:01 AM

As state and federal lawmakers debate the country’s energy policies and Colorado’s role in the ever-expanding energy economy, let’s hope they remember that unnecessary regulations stifle growth while doing nothing for public safety or health. They would also be wise to listen to voter dissatisfaction regarding overly-burdensome regulations.

Every time Washington regulators pass down another heavy-handed rule or levy another hefty fine, Colorado loses potential jobs, revenue, and economic security. Our state has the resources to play a major role in the nation’s drive for cheap domestic energy, and it’s a shame when lawmakers get in the way.

The Centennial State is home to ten of the 100 largest natural gas fields in the United States, and three of the 100 largest oil fields. Increased production in Colorado’s Front Range is also expected to produce at least $50 million a year in tax revenue for the state.

Colorado’s collective shale deposits  contain somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 trillion barrels of oil. That’s almost as much as the entire world’s proven oil reserves!

The benefits of these resources are real and tangible. In 2008, the refining industry employed about 570 people in Colorado. Those workers earned, on average, an annual pay of more than $150,000. In 2009, the oil and natural gas industries accounted for more than $10.2 billion in labor income, and contributed more than $20.4 billion to the state’s economy. It’s also worth pointing out that for every one oil industry-related job that is created in Colorado, another 3.3 jobs are created in related industries like trucking and pipeline construction.

What’s more – the refining, petrochemical, oil and gas industries have done a remarkable job of reducing their overall emissions by 71 percent since 1970. But despite this progress, new government regulations are imposing significant costs on business and consumers. Those costs will inevitably outweigh any potential environmental benefits by making it harder for energy producers and manufacturers to stay in business, which in turn threatens jobs and risks the long-term health of our nation’s economy.

Fortunately, most Americans embrace common-sense thinking when it comes to unnecessary regulatory burdens. In a national poll of likely voters conducted by MWR Strategies, 87 percent of Americans believe the federal government should allow enough time to determine if already-existing regulations are effective before trying to add more.

The survey also showed that most Americans harbor a deep skepticism of the federal regulatory process, with 89 percent of respondents saying that federal bureaucracy does a poor job of assessing the negative unintended consequences of regulations. 

Even more telling is that fact that 77 percent said that federal bureaucrats need to adopt a more reasonable approach to the regulatory process. Another 65 percent agreed regulations usually come with more costs than benefits.

If those survey results seem surprising, they shouldn’t be. Consumers are affected every day by Washington’s heavy-handed regulatory process. Americans regularly pay more at the gas pump because of short-sighted regulations that require every gallon of gas to be blended with more and more corn-based ethanol. Ethanol is more expensive to make than petroleum-based gasoline and is less fuel efficient, which means higher gas prices and more trips to the pump to fill up our tanks.

The ethanol requirement is even more frustrating considering that while a major drought ravages the Midwest, nearly 40 percent of the nation’s corn crop this year will be committed to fulfill the ethanol mandate. That is, unless the EPA issues a waiver, which it shows no indication of doing. It makes little sense to continue diverting that much corn to make ethanol considering the impact rising corn prices have on every day consumer products. Frankly, we’d be much better off without it.

Coloradans need to work with policymakers in Washington to prevent unnecessary regulations from hindering growth in our vital oil and gas industries. Colorado ranks tenth among the 50 states in oil production, which is why it’s imperative we don’t let our resources go to waste.