Sunday, July 26, 2009

Natural Gas: a 'Vital Part’ of Colorado's New Energy Economy

Submitted by: Heartland Energy Colorado

Gov. Bill Ritter offered Colorado’s natural gas industry his support Thursday in a speech on the last day of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association’s annual three-day conference.

“Natural gas is a vital part of the New Colorado Energy Economy,” Ritter told the crowd of about 2,000 people. “It is a permanent part of the New Energy Economy. It’s not a bridge fuel, not a transition fuel, but a mission-critical fuel.”

Ritter outlined his support for the industry on several fronts, listing the state’s expansion of tax credits for vehicles that run on compressed natural gas, and credits for converting vehicles to run on natural gas.

The Governor’s Colorado Energy Office is applying for a $10 million federal grant to expand the use of natural gas for transportation uses, he said.

Ritter also mentioned he’d urged the federal government to approve a new pipeline, called the Ruby pipeline, to carry natural gas from the Rocky Mountains to markets in California and the West Coast.

And he said he talked with U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, about her proposal, introduced in Congress in June, to regulate the industry’s hydraulic fracturing process that frees natural gas from the ground. U.S. Rep. Jarid Polis from Boulder has signed on as a cosponsor.

Industry executives have said the process, sometimes called fraccing, is adequately regulated at the state level.

“I don’t for a moment discount the concerns of those who worry about the protection of drinking water supplies but I also believe that we have to understand the problems and risks before we act,” Ritter said at the COGA meeting.

“That’s why I encouraged Congresswoman DeGette to consider authorizing a comprehensive study of this issue instead of going directly to a new and potentially intrusive regulatory program. She agreed, at that time, to go instead to something that would be more in the way of a study instead of an amendment that would prescribe every state having to put in place these rules,” Ritter said, adding, “I thank the congresswoman for having done that.”

But DeGette’s spokesman, Kristofer Eisenla, asked about Ritter’s comment, said later Thursday that “all options are on the table” regarding the fraccing bill.


“She had a good conversation with the governor regarding this,” Eisenla said. “She understands his concerns, but she’s looking at all options to move the issue forward — including holding a hearing in her committee and doing a study. She welcomes the industry’s input on developing the study.”


Ritter’s comments drew applause and praise from industry executives, who have tussled with Ritter’s administration over the state’s new rules governing industry operations. The rules took effect April 1.


“I thought the governor’s comment that natural gas is a vital part of the New Energy Economy and a permanent fuel — not a bridge fuel — and a critical fuel for Energy Colorado and the nation is right on point,” said Peter Dea, president and CEO of private Cirque Resources LP in Denver.


Said Meg Collins, president of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association, “I’m pleased he came, and I’m pleased at the message that natural gas is mission-critical, and an integral part of the state’s and nation’s energy portfolio for the long term. The governor’s statements are going to put pressure on the Oil & Gas Commission to process [drilling] permits so we can continue to produce natural gas for the state and nation.”


One of the leading producers of natural gas in the state is Heartland Energy Colorado. The Governor's comments are good news for natural gas companies, and could mean the government support that the industry so needs. Especially with government incentives, companies like Heartland Energy Colorado will continue to produce natural gas and thrive.

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