The tenor of the oil and gas conversation this past week began changing as speakers at the Colorado Oil and Gas Industry's annual Rocky Mountain Energy Summit repeated new refrains.
"The next 20 years will truly change the world," Jerre Stead, CEO of IHS, a global consulting firm, told a packed house at the Colorado Convention Center last week during the Colorado Oil and Gas Association's annual conference. "Top of Form
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Now, the opportunity comes along once in a lifetime, maybe, to make an impact on the world. ... One of the ways we can help each other most is to be very proactive. Stop being defensive. Together, if we're going to create truly long-term national energy policy, we need to be positive and consistent and speak as a single voice," Stead said.
The theme continued in every discussion at the convention last week. Speakers included Peter Kareiva, the chief scientist from the Nature Conservancy, calling for the oil and gas and conservation industries to work together, as neither side will go away anytime soon; and Alex Trembath, policy analyst with The Breakthrough Institute, a California think tank, calling for a new eco-modernism that rethinks traditional environmentalist ideology and rejects the idea that man is ruining nature.
"The emphasis at the conference was to change the nature of the dialogue, away from an us-vs-them framework to one where we acknowledge that we are all in this together," COGA president and CEO Tisha Schuller said in an email response to questions. "We all use energy and the products of energy. We all want to protect our family, our community and our Colorado natural environment. Polarization becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy where we expect conflict and so further exacerbate the situation. Meeting in the middle is complex, time consuming, trying, and messy. But ultimately, it is the only way to get anything worthwhile accomplished."
Most recently (as discussed in an earlier blog), the COGCC placed tighter setback rules for locating drilling activities near buildings. The state Air Quality Control Commission is looking into stricter requirements on emissions from oil and gas facilities and operations. Stead espoused the open and honest approach to dealing with detractors. His method to communication was three-pronged: treat absolutely everyone with dignity and respect; facts are friends; and create a strong educational base for the future. "We have an opportunity to make a much bigger difference to look back 15 years from now and say we changed the world," Stead said. "If we bring resources together in this room and spend a fair amount of time, treasure and talent creating an education system that helps people understand what we truly are doing, what the facts are, what an incredible difference we can make to the world. We have that opportunity."