Reader: The oil-and-gas industry only looks out for itself
"The Insider," Alan Prendergast, June 13
There will be quotes taken from this article and repeated word for word by senators in opposition from all over, in front of the U.S. Congress. Excellent work. Alan Prendergast is Denver's finest news writer, period. I share his articles regularly. If you are reading him for the first time in "The Insider," archive his work!
Pretty evenhanded story, with one exception: As a veteran of the industry for nearly forty years, I have never seen or heard of a single person or company who wants to drill in a national park. That is the cheapest of shots and detracts mightily from what is otherwise objective reportage.
It is not the best tactic to disparage those we disagree with, and Tisha Schuller's attempts to educate her colleagues to that effect might be noble. I don't wish to challenge her intentions. However, we know the tree by the fruit it bears, the saying goes, and in this case, it is pretty clear that the oil-and-gas industry — including its primary lobbying entity in Colorado, COGA — regularly and repeatedly disparages elected officials, activists and concerned citizens. One need only read the commentary that accompanied the industry-beloved FrackNation movie, or follow the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity Twitter feed, to gather ample evidence of this smear effort at work.
A Chesapeake Energy (based in Oklahoma) lobbyist suggested that Coloradans concerned about this impactful, highly industrialized activity are "invading" Colorado. This is a common theme from the industry spinners: Opposition is invented by out-of-state liberals! (As if Tulsa-based Williams, or Dutch-based Shell, or Calgary-based EnCana are "local.") In fact, depending on who is concerned about what, activists are either painted as NIMBYs or as outsiders, as "ill-informed" or intentionally "deceptive."
Where I live, COGA's Western Slope counterpart routinely dismisses anyone and everyone who suggests that citizens ought to have a say in when, how and where this activity occurs in their midst. Local folks concerned about their drinking water, farms, businesses, spills, fires, traffic and the like are "provincial," "parochial" and NIMBYs, according to WS-COGA head David Ludlam. On the other hand, when folks from the Front Range, for instance, weigh in on a place like the Roan Plateau, they are labeled — by these very same spokespeople — as "outsiders."
In other words, the message from the oil-and-gas industry is that neither locals nor others should interfere with allowing industry free rein to do whatever it wants.
Talk is cheap, even bold truth-telling (if that's what Ms. Schuller really did) in front of a skeptical crowd. Actions speak more loudly, and the evidence mounts that the oil-and-gas industry is looking out for its own special interest but not that of neighbors, towns or citizens. In Colorado — and across the nation — communities are standing up to demand and take control.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Westword's biggest stories.