I used to have a love-hate relationship with the petroleum industry but SB-181 forced me to take my flag out of the middle and throughly examine both sides.
Growing up in a rural Colorado community, high paying jobs were limited. The house I grew up in was on the same road as an oil service company. It’s an oil owner went way above and beyond to take care of his employees, and that’s something that stuck with me. It’s hard to be in a conflict with a company who really takes care of their workers so companies like this are a bright spot in the industry.
Still, climate change is real and for those who still don’t think it’s true, please go to my website codyengelhaupt.com where I posted a few of my peers reviewed articles about climate change.
I was also irritated this year when a campaign of misinformation regarding a bill the Colorado General Assembly was considering was everywhere.
Protect Public Welfare Oil and Gas Operation (SB-181) is a 29-page bill that is easy to read and was signed into law on April 16. I encourage everyone to take the time and read the bill.
The big takeaways of SB-181 are it directs the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission to adopt rules to minimize emissions, directs Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to now regulate, gives local control to local government, increases. the rights of property owners affected by forced pooling and finally makes sure that the state of Colorado is not on the hook for oil and gas wells that are abandoned.
There are a lot of parts I could break down and discuss one by one, but honestly I feel that there are only really two points of controversy regarding the new law, and one has nothing to do with the bill.
First is the local control piece. SB-181 will let counties and municipalities set their own rules like setbacks. Some parts of this state care a lot about setbacks and not so much for others. In my opinion, the oil companies did a much better job in the past than they are doing today. Oil companies did do an excellent job of not poking the bear and staying away from more populated parts of our state with drilling. However, the state is changing and parts of the state that weren’t affected now could be. Increasing local control will cause the oil lobbyists to have some presence all across the state instead of just in Denver, and that will be costly.
Second is the economic anxiety that the oil industry is facing just as the coal industry did. For the first time in our country’s history, electric cars outsold the combustible engine. This economic shift isn’t something new to this country, but is just more, when it happens now.
Historically, the work of blacksmiths who shoed horses evolved into automotive plant workers, then assembly line workers and now are engineers for automation in the factory.
To my dismay, this anxiety will not be going away. It’s just not how our economy works and oil field workers will slowly transition to a different career, perhaps even becoming a wind farm technician.
I said at the beginning I had a love-hate relationship on this subject mostly because of how the industry took care of their employees. SB-181 will not be the end of the industry but there will be a shift. The biggest danger will come from the economy and what changes will come from consumer preference.
The most popular industry always wins but don’t take my word on it, just ask a former Blockbuster employee.