Sunday, December 30, 2007

Where is the Post's Credibility on the Roan?

First the Denver Post wanted to open up for oil and gas drilling western Colorado's Roan Plateau. Now the Post agrees with Governor Ritter that parts of the Roan should be kept safe from drilling.

It's a welcome flip-flop. But now the Post is claiming in an editorial today, along with a fringe group of drillers, that drilling the Roan is needed to reap a "windfall" of up to $1 billion. Here's where the Post's credibility on the Roan really takes a hit.

The group claiming Colorado will make $1 billion is Americans for American Energy, a group that has been slammed by the Governor of Wyoming, drawn skepticism from Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, and criticism from a number of local governments. It's a group that's run by the former disgruntled head of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, Greg Schnacke, who, we have heard, was ousted from COGA because of his radical views and lack of credibility.

If the Denver Post thinks Americans for American Energy is credible, we're in trouble.

But that's not all. The supposed "$1 billion windfall" is claimed to be linked to bonus payments and is based on oil and gas leases on federal lands fetching $46,000 per acre in these bonuses.

Yet according to numbers of the federal Minerals Management Service, nationwide, oil and gas leasing brought in only $893 in bonus payments last year. In other words, the Denver Post thinks drilling the Roan in Colorado will bring in more bonus payments than what the entire United States brought in last year.

Not only that, but the same data shows the highest bonus payment ever received by Colorado has been $15.5 million, which came in 2006. And the Denver Post believes we have a chance to make $1 billion?

Not surprisingly, even Americans for American Energy are backing off their $1 billion claim.

But what really blows the Post's credibility out of the water is that the paper is pinning Colorado's economic future on drilling the Roan Plateau. First off, for any paper to pin Colorado's future on make believe numbers, like the $1 billion, is irresponsible.

Second, there are major problems with Colorado's tax system, it's savings, and it's fiscal priorities when it comes to oil and gas drilling, and the Post ignores these facts. As the Rocky Mountain News reported two and a half weeks ago:

Not only that, but Colorado stands to truly gain $1 billion in the next 10 years just by saving and planning better, even without drilling the Roan.

Despite it's claimed interest in looking out for Colorado's future, the Denver Post has yet to call for any reform in the way the oil and gas industry is taxed, or the way oil and gas drilling revenue is saved or distributed. Like the industry fringe, all the Post seems capable of doing is calling for more drilling.

Yet if more drilling was our salvation here in Colorado, we'd be saved by now.

Like Americans for American Energy, the Denver Post has really shown that it lacks credibility when it comes to the issue of the Roan Plateau.


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