Lawmaker accuses gas industry of launching misinformation campaign
State Rep. Kathleen Curry says the energy industry is employing “blatant misinformation” in arguing her bill to protect landowners from drilling would raise the cost of natural gas for Coloradans.Ken Wonstolen, senior vice president and general counsel for the Colorado Oil & Gas Association, said Curry is mistaken.”It’s disappointing that she didn’t listen to the testimony that was presented to her committee,” he said.Curry is chairwoman of the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee, which is considering her bill.The bill aims to force the industry to reach surface use agreements with property owners before drilling. The industry argues the bill would delay drilling by months, driving up the cost of natural gas. “I think some of their counterarguments are just blatantly false, made up of misinformation,” Curry said.”In fact, the reality for pricing for natural gas is it’s much more complicated, not a function of the production costs in western Colorado,” she said.Wonstolen countered, “We are at a point on the price curve today where a 1 percent change in gas supply provides a 10 percent change in gas price.”Duane Zavadil of Bill Barrett Corp. testified before Curry’s committee that every 30 days of delay in bringing a single, typical Colorado gas well into production costs American consumers $3 million and Coloradans $45,000.Wonstolen said the problem lies in the fact that the national depletion rate for existing wells in the United States is 26 to 27 percent. New production is constantly needed to replace that – at the rate of a new well for every existing well every four or five years – or the price of gas will rise, he said.State Rep. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, a member of the Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee, said he thinks a rise in prices would follow if there is a national trend toward making it harder for the energy industry to drill for gas. But he said the industry’s estimates regarding Curry’s bill are overblown.”Whenever you deal with a tough issue like this, both sides get carried away with the hyperbole,” he said.Curry said some industry representatives are using “robo-calling” to automatically telephone residents in the districts of members of her committee and tell them their gas bills will rise if her bill passes.”The hundreds of calls that they’ve made – I can’t undo the damage that they’ve done,” Curry said.
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