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Opinion Columns

Opinion: Local energy production is the sustainable choice

The need for American energy security has never been stronger or clearer.

Will we heed the call? Or will we bow to pressure from keep-it-in-the-ground activists and embolden our enemies?

Recent news stories highlight the need not only for American energy security, but for domestic energy that is produced cleaner, better and safer than anywhere on the planet, which is exactly what we’re doing here in Colorado.

Dan Haley

First, we learned that intelligence officials believe Russia put a bounty on U.S. soldiers in the Middle East, paying for their deaths. Yes, Russia. The same country that northeastern states, including New York and Massachusetts, rely on for much of their energy because they don’t want domestic pipelines. (Just last week activists’ lawsuits helped shut down the Atlantic Coast pipeline.) Russia ships natural gas to our East Coast each year to heat homes, even though American workers produce clean natural gas in abundance.

That sentence is so important, and so mind-boggling, I’ll repeat it again: We’re giving Russia money for the same type of energy that we produce in this country, and they’re giving money to the Taliban to kill American soldiers.

Our elected leaders across this nation need to understand that the prospects of relying on Russia for our energy are far, far scarier than any pipeline made by American workers to transport locally sourced energy.

Then, we learned that European Space Agency satellites have detected huge plumes of methane leaking from the Yamal pipeline that carries natural gas from Siberia to Europe. One of the leaks reportedly released 93 tons of methane an hour – that’s equal to the amount of carbon dioxide pumped out in a year by 15,000 cars in the United States, according to energy consultant, Kayrros, in a news article by Reuters.

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

Another nearby leak was releasing 17 tons of methane an hour, which threatens our efforts to stem the impacts of global climate change. 

Let’s also not forget that Russia teamed up with Saudi Arabia earlier this spring as COVID-19 swept across the United States to dump oil onto markets to increase supply and drive down commodity prices in hopes of breaking the back of the American shale revolution.

As we emerge from this economic downturn, two truths will emerge as well: 

The world will need oil and natural gas for years to come, and few, if any, places are developing those resources cleaner, better or safer than Colorado.

I’m proud of the work we’ve done. Under Colorado’s rigorous regulatory framework and rules that are considered the national gold standard, companies are utilizing state-of-the-art technology and innovation to decrease emissions, reduce leaks, limit venting and flaring and disturb less land. 

The end result is abundant and affordable energy sourced and produced locally in one of the safest and most environmentally sound manners anywhere. That matters, particularly if the alternative is relying on energy produced by countries with poor labor standards and environmental practices.

If you care about the environment, you want your energy produced in Colorado. 

Several of the innovations that have occurred in Colorado to help create what we’re calling The Colorado Molecule include tankless production, low-bleed pneumatics, electric-powered drill rigs, electric pumping engines, fence line and community air monitoring, water recycling, beneficial water reuse with industrial partners, solar PV and battery storage for monitoring and small pump operations, increased pipeline usage to reduce truck traffic, light mitigation, noise barriers, quiet hydraulic fracturing equipment, as well as community coordination to identify, plug and reclaim old verticals wells to reduce cumulative emissions.

These innovations and other emerging applications can improve operational efficiency and provide significant emission reductions that could otherwise lead to regional ozone formation and global climate change.

Let’s consider the East Coast again. Without access to enough affordable, clean burning natural gas (largely because political leaders have shut down pipelines), the Northeast has higher CO2 emissions and higher energy costs as they instead burn heating oil. If the Northeast switched from heating oil to natural gas, the region would eliminate almost 18.5 tons of CO2 emitted per year, according to Choose Energy

TODAY’S UNDERWRITER

We can rely on other countries to produce our energy, or we can do it here at home, in ways that we know will protect the environment, keep costs low, provide good paying jobs and make our country energy secure. 

Any effective sustainability strategy prioritizes the use of local resources, whether that is in agriculture, construction, manufacturing or energy production. It’s better to do it right and to do it right here.  

Let’s heed the call and commit ourselves to energy independence and to a more thoughtful and cleaner tomorrow.


Dan Haley is the President & CEO of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association.


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