Steamboat Springs Doesn't the Steamboat Pilot & Today have some responsibility to verify the content of the ads it publishes? The Colorado Oil and Gas Association's (COGA) full-page ad of June 25 ("Certain species are covered. People are not.") insinuates that the entire oil and gas industry could be shut down for three months at a time because of prairie dog protection, that 10,000 jobs will be lost, that the new regulations will push the industry elsewhere, and that the 2,000 locals who recently protested the regulations in Grand Junction will be filling the unemployment lines. What a blitz of misinformation.
Such sensational claims should be examined for what they really are, and the newspaper that prints them should expect to be criticized for allowing its readers to be misled.
For 30 years, the state of Colorado has allowed the oil and gas industry sole responsibility for regulating itself. The result has been a massive disregard for public health and safety, as well as a minimal concern for natural resources and the environment. In the last 18 months, the state government has attempted to revise oil and gas regulations so that the public interest is represented. This has come about because the industry has callously ignored claims from citizens and communities that their water supplies have become polluted (some have even caught fire), that their land values have plummeted, that the air they breathe contains particulates so damaging to personal health that even the federal government guidelines frequently show them to be over dangerous levels, and many, many other reasons.
Anyone who has the slightest interest in American history knows that every time an industry has been forced to be regulated by a governmental entity, it has cried foul, and that a potential job loss will devastate the local economy. True to form, the Colorado oil and gas industry is pursuing the same tactics: trying to scare people into believing that public regulations will destroy employment prospects.
Most of the 2,000 people who came to protest the new regulations were paid by the industry and provided transportation to do so. The industry has actually raised more than $20 million to fight the proposed rules. No wonder it can easily spend $1,000 for a page in the Steamboat Today.
Could such a possibility of massive job layoff really exist? This is the energy industry talking in the year 2008, when profits in oil and gas have never been higher, and where expectations are even greater than present returns on investment. A typical gas well in western Colorado pays for itself during the first eight months of operation. The investigative reporting staff of the Steamboat Pilot & Today has done some unusually fine work in describing the complex issues of oil, gas and water in western Colorado, particularly in the last two years. Isn't it appropriate that our local newspaper attempt to address the issue of new rules for the oil and gas industry. Perhaps an editorial on that subject could provide additional insight. What about that, Mr. Editor?