The sparring over energy issues in the Presidential debates, particularly the first one at the University of Denver, underscored divergent viewpoints between the two candidates. The differences are particularly important here in Colorado, where we are home to ten of America’s 100 largest natural gas fields, and three of the 100 largest oil fields.
President Obama correctly noted that oil and natural gas production are higher than they’ve been in years, but Governor Romney countered that “all of the increase in natural gas and oil has happened on private land, not on government land.” He took the president to task for cutting the number of permits and licenses in half. In Colorado more than a third of the land is controlled by the federal government, so we found it alarming that the president did not answer to the fact that oil and gas production on federal lands dropped to record low levels.
When the president proposed new taxes on gas and oil that would ultimately be borne by consumers and cost job losses, Romney correctly took him to task for wasting tens of billions of taxpayer dollars on expensive and unreliable energy sources, whose failed corporate leaders were Obama campaign donors.
The debate spelled out clear differences, yet voters still deserve answers to questions that were not asked during the debates.
The Interior Department is expected to issue new regulations on hydraulic fracturing, a process that extracts oil and gas from shale rock deposits. Colorado’s shale oil deposits contain as much as 1 trillion barrels of recoverable oil – nearly as much as the entire world’s proven oil reserves. The federal rule will cost the industry an estimated $1.5 billion dollars while vesting authority to the federal government that had been reserved to the states for more than 60 years without a single instance of groundwater contamination.
Will Obama approve the new rules? Almost certainly since they are being drafted by his Administration. Romney has indicated he prefers leaving regulation to the various states as it has historically been administered.