Colorado’s oil and gas industry voices its concerns. But Gov. Jared Polis dismisses them.

John Frank
The Colorado Sun
Gov. Jared Polis speaks before signing Senate Bill 181 on Tuesday, April 16, 2019, in his office at the Colorado Capitol. Looking on is Erin Martinez, right, whose husband and brother were killed when their Firestone home exploded in 2017. On the left is Martinez’ daughter.(Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

The oil and gas industry is facing new headwinds in Colorado with a mixture of anxiety and downright angst, worried about new rules that could amount to a “proxy ban” on drilling in some areas and impact jobs.

And Gov. Jared Polis only amplified the concerns Wednesday at the Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s annual summit as he struck what energy leaders described as a dismissive and condescending tone and repeatedly called industry concerns “silly.”

The point of contention is the impact of Senate Bill 181, a measure approved earlier this year to revamp the state’s oil and gas regulations in a way that emphasizes environmental and health concerns and gives local governments more control in permitting drilling operations in Colorado. 

The legislation to allow tougher rules and even temporary bans on drilling is creating instability in the energy market, according to oil and gas executives and analysts, but Polis rejects that idea. Instead, he repeatedly argued that the industry’s future is tied to global commodity prices — not politics and regulation — even though independent analysts suggest its both.

“It has nothing to do with me, and nothing to do with our state politics and less, even, to do with national politics,” he told energy leaders at the conference in Denver. He suggested that analysts should “be following the ins and outs of Venezuelan politics more than I’d be following the ins and outs of Colorado politics.”

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