HENDERSON — Every inch of the event center at the Adams County Fair Grounds was needed on Thursday — and then some — as more than 1,000 people gathered for a No on Proposition 112 rally.
The proposition has polarized the state possibly more than any other question facing Colorado voters in November. If passed, it would cause a de facto ban on new oil and gas production on 85-95 percent of the stat
Those in favor of the proposition say it’s about the health and safety of residents. Those opposed argue the claims are unfounded and that the proposition is about out of state special interests wanting to tell others how to live their lives.
“This is all about freedom,” said U.S. 4th Congressional Rep. Ken Buck, R-Windsor. “The other side has been trying to take our freedoms away from us for a long time. They tried to tell us how many rounds we could have in our magazine. They tried to tell us what kind of guns we could use. They tried to take our pickup trucks away from us and tell us where we needed to plug our electric car in. They’re even trying to tell us what kind of food our kids can eat in elementary school. And you know
what? They live in California, and they think they are going to spend their money here in Colorado and tell us what we’re going to do. We need to tell them to frack off.”
A Common Sense Policy Roundtable study conducted in July determined that if passed, Colorado would lose more than $26 billion annually in Gross Domestic Product, more than $1 billion in tax revenue and nearly 150,000 jobs.
Several elected officials and industry professionals were on hand to energize the crowd, including Gary Arnold, who is the business manager for the Local Pipe Fitters Union #208. His union has come out in opposition to 112 to support the employees of the oil and gas industry.
“Mainly we joined in this fight because of what it does to Colorado workers,” Arnold said. “It’s going to be catastrophic. This isn’t about setbacks, this is about a ban on oil and gas development. And anybody who can stand up and say taking (85-95 percent) of the available land away from oil and gas isn’t going to have an effect on workers is kidding themselves.”
Arnold said it’s likely a lot of people in the oil and gas industry have a skill set that is similar to the people who work in the pipe fitting industry.
“It didn’t lend itself to a traditional four-year college,” Arnold said. “But they have the skills to make them successful in oil and gas. These are jobs that don’t collar themselves to large student debt, but still provide good wages and provide good benefits so they can take care of themselves and their families.”
He also told the crowd that even with Xcel Energy’s new plan for more green energy by 2026 using solar, wind and battery storage, a quarter of the state’s electrical power will still need to come from oil and gas, the same amount that comes from oil and gas currently.
“So why would we ban oil and gas and ship jobs to Texas and Oklahoma,” Arnold said. “We need to have some tough conversations. I’m happy to participate in some tough conversations, so long as workers are at the table and not on the menu.”
Everyone who spoke urged the crowd to talk to their neighbors, tell their stories and make sure people get out to vote. Weld County Clerk and Recorder Carly Koppes was on hand to help register people to vote. She had a steady stream of people throughout the event at her table.
Here are excerpts of what others who spoke had to say.
Congressman Buck —
“They’ve made a mistake because they picked on a group of fighters. They picked on people that understand what our rights are and know that we are going to take the fight right back to them, no matter how much money they spend, and no matter how many lies they tell. And we’re going to win this fight.
Dan Haley: President, Colorado Oil and Gas Association —
“The United States is now the No. 1 producer of oil and natural gas in the entire world. It changes everything. It changes our politics, it changes the world stage and it changes our lives for the better every single day. When I grew up in the 1970s, we had succumbed to the energy crisis. We had gas lines. We were told to put a sweater on, to turn down the thermostat. The energy crisis was real, but we were never going to conserve our way out of it and have a healthy prosperous economy. So, we did what Americans do. The oil and gas industry innovated and tried and tried again, and we are now awash in natural resources. And if you care about the environment, you want this resource produced in Colorado. Our emissions have gone down, while production has gone up. They are saying this is a battle between real Coloradans and big money oil and gas. They are not seeing you. They wake up every morning with their iPhone charged, with a hot pot of coffee, they turn on the lights — and they come on — yet they don’t see you. You have to stand up and tell your energy story.”
Jerry Sonnenberg, Colorado Senate President Pro Tem —
“You’re Rockstars. One the things that we often forget about why your industry is so important. You are national security. You provide products for us that we no longer have to try and get from countries that want to lop our heads off. The time has come to send a message that we are no longer going to put up with those extreme groups that think they have all the answers for us in Colorado. It’s time for us to send a message. We need to squash this like a bug.”
John Cooke, Colorado Senate Majority Whip —
“I love oil and gas. You know what I love more? Oil and gas workers. You know what I love almost as much as oil and gas workers? Pickup trucks. What makes those pickup trucks possible? High wages that you get from the oil and gas industry. I’m not just Colorado oil and gas, I’m Weld County oil and gas. Weld County has no debt, and we have no sales tax in the county, and that’s not because of anything the commissioners do. It has nothing to do with anything the county government does. It’s about what you do. We have no debt because of you.”
Tracee Bentley, American Petroleum Institute —
“I am a mother of three, and I’ve raised all three of my children around oil and gas in Weld County. I also have three very healthy and successful children, thanks to the schools they went to, due to oil and gas in Weld County.
Scott James, Mayor of Johnstown —
“Your free to do what you want to do. Your neighbor, he’s free to do what he wants to do. I’m free to do what I want to do. But when somebody tries to tell me how to live my life that ticks me off. And it should you too. So, I decided that I need to have your back, and suddenly I’m starting an activist group called Mayors Against Proposition 112 (MAP). Our school district gets 55 percent of the valuation in oil and gas. And these extremists from California want to take that away. Are they going to pay the bill? No. Guess who’s going to pay the bill after they leave? You and me. They say it’s for the health and safety of the children. Well, Larry Wolk, the former director of the Colorado Department of Health and Environment says there is no credible evidence that a 2,500-foot setback will do anything for health and safety.”
Next Up — Mayors Against Proposition 112 will rally at noon on Oct. 16 on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol. The current list of mayors opposed to 112 are:
- Ault Mayor Rob Piotrowski
- Arvada Mayor Marc Williams
- Aurora Mayor Bob LaGare
- Bennett Mayor Royce Pindell
- Brighton Mayor Ken Kreutzer
- Broomfield Mayor Randy Ahrens
- Centennial Mayor Stephanie Piko
- Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers
- Craig Mayor John Ponikvar
- Dacono Mayor Joe Baker
- Delta Mayor Ron Austin
- Denver Mayor Michael Hancock
- Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb
- Eaton Mayor Kevin Ross
- Evans Mayor Brian Rudy
- Federal Heights Mayor Daniel Dick
- Fort Collins Mayor Wade Troxell
- Fort Lupton Mayor Zo Stieber
- Fort Morgan Mayor Ron Shaver
- Frederick Mayor Tony Carey
- Greeley Mayor John Gates
- Greenwood Village Mayor Ron Rakowsky
- Hudson Mayor Dwayne Haynes
- Johnstown Mayor Scott James
- Kersey Mayor Gary Lagrimanta
- Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul
- LaSalle Mayor Andy Martinez
- Littleton Mayor Debbie Brinkman
- Lonetree Mayor Jackie Millet
- Loveland Mayor Pro-tem Don Overcash
- Manitou Springs Mayor Ken Jaray
- Milliken Mayor Beau Woodcock
- Monument Mayor Don Wilson
- Northglenn Mayor Carol Dodge
- Platteville Mayor Adrienne Sandoval
- Pueblo Council President Chris Nicoll
- Severance Mayor Don McLeod
- Thornton Mayor Heidi Williams
- Windsor Mayor Kristie Melendez
- Woodland Park Mayor Neil Levy
4th Congressional Rep. Ken Buck, R-Windsor
Colorado Senate President Pro Tem Jerry Sonnenberg
Colorado Senate Majority Whip John Cooke
Colorado Representative Phil Covarrubias
Gary Arnold, business manager for the Local Pipe Fitters Union #208
Tracee Bentley, American Petroleum Institute
Johnstown Mayor Scott James:
Dan Haley, President and CEO Colorado Oil and Gas Association