Daniel: Unleash responsible energy production in Colorado, kill Senate Bill 24-159

By BOBBIE DANIEL | Guest Columnist

Recently, our Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution declaring Mesa County’s opposition to Senate Bill 24-159, which prohibits new oil and gas production in Colorado.

At first glance, the Front Range sponsors of this bill aim to give us less pollution, better health outcomes, reasonable care of finite mineral resources and more responsible property rights. We all want these things, and while the aspiration for reduced pollution and enhanced health and environmental stewardship is universal, the approach of SB 24-159 is concerning.

It is a widely-known achievement of the 19th century that the greatest standard of living has been achieved by respecting private property rights of the individual, versus the road of collective central planning.

This bill, sadly, will not only increase poverty but will lower the standard of living not only for the people of Colorado but for people all over the world, in a time where high inflation and a high cost of living leave people struggling to stay afloat.

Here in Mesa County, one-third of our population is on one or more public assistance programs, with 1,500 people applying monthly. We have 2,300 people unsheltered, and roughly the same amount with shelter insecurity. We have senior citizens waitlisted for food programs that are almost a half-million dollars underfunded by the state. Our Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) assists residents with winter utility bills and has hit an all-time high participation rate. Our unemployment is at 3.2%, which means people in our county are working; they just don’t have enough to get by. If oil and gas exploration ceases, it will further devastate our workforce. The facts in Mesa County show that while people work, they struggle to make ends meet — we need to ensure we retain well-paid jobs.

The bottom line is you simply cannot centrally plan your way to a better future by destroying the road to prosperity. The only proven way to innovate progress is through property rights, the rule of law, free trade and equal opportunities for all, which this bill disturbingly divorces itself from.

I highly encourage our friends at the state Capitol to revisit the ideas and foundations that truly progressed our nation and state to innovation in abundance.

I would remind our friends of the sheer horror of the failed centrally planned economies that have millions of immigrants fleeing socialist and communist collective states where individual property is sacrificed in the name of the collective good. Where poverty, pollution, public health, individual rights and the rule of law are not respected nor achieved. We are not the same here in Colorado, and we have an opportunity to do better for our people.

I implore the bill sponsors, committee members and House and Senate leadership to strongly oppose this bill and instead invest in the future through means that produce an outcome that actually works. Pass tax incentives, stimulate competition, merit and free trade. Use a carrot instead of a stick. A brighter future for Colorado is possible with pathways that incentivize research and innovative technology.

According to a study prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), in 2021, Colorado’s oil and gas industry was not just a major economic player — it was a cornerstone of our state’s financial health — breathing over $48 billion into our gross domestic product and providing $30 billion in labor income.

The proposed ban on oil and gas exploration is more than an environmental stance — it’s a decision with profound and far-reaching economic ramifications, which would not only destabilize our local, state and national economies but also weaken the global market at a critical juncture. It would decrease global supply at a time when oppressive collective governments are cornering the energy market and using it to wage war on Western Civilization’s representative democracies worldwide.

Eliminating oil and gas exploration in Colorado limits consumer choice and stifles competition while undermining our position in a significant global struggle. A more significant fight for humanity is at stake, and we in Colorado play a leading role in standing for sustained and tangible economic and human progress. We are at a defining moment in our Colorado history.

Colorado has an opportunity to affirm its commitment to both economic resilience and responsible energy production. It’s a time to choose the path we wish to forge for ourselves and the world. We must decide who we are and what we stand for, recognizing the weight of our choices on the global stage.

Bobbie Daniel is a member of the three-person Mesa County Board of Commissioners.