Former Interior Secretary Norton Calls Oil And Gas Workers “Revolutionaries”
A former Interior Department Secretary called people working in the oil and gas industry “revolutionaries” and Colorado officials said energy issues transcended traditional party lines at a rally in Denver Thursday.
The “Energy Proud” event was hosted by energy companies on the west steps of the state Capitol before a few thousand people, and comes just days before an August 6 deadline for anti-oil and gas proponents to submit signatures for a proposed 2,500-foot setback in Initiative 97.
“It’s not often that I get to speak to a crowd of revolutionaries,” said former Interior Department Secretary and former Colorado Attorney General Gale Norton. “That’s exactly what you are because you have accomplished a revolution.”
Norton pointed to the concern over reliance on foreign oil that began in the 1970s. “We relied on the imports,” Norton said. Those concerns grew even more after the September 11th, 2001 attacks, which occurred during Norton’s time as head of the Interior Department.
“Our problems were massive,” Norton continued. “And unbeknownst to Washington, out in the field, revolutionaries like you were changing the destiny of America.”
“Today we no longer are hostage to foreign countries controlling our oil,” she said. “Today we control our own destiny. You should truly be energy proud.”
“The modern world is not possible without oil and gas,” said Liberty CEO Chris Wright. “Together, with dramatic advances in human liberty, the mass production of oil and gas has improved the human condition in ways that would have been simply unimaginable to our ancestors. I felt tremendous pride today as our industry stood together to celebrate our contributions to not only Colorado but humankind.”
Speakers repeatedly struck a bipartisan tone.
“Hard-working, that’s Colorado,” said State Rep. James Coleman (D-Denver). Coleman praised the energy industry, which he compared to his grandfather’s legacy and his family’s work ethic, and said the industry transcended political lines.
“There are over 200,000 people in Colorado that work in the energy industry, many of which are here today. And I’m proud to say that when I think about my grandfather, and when I see all of you, I don’t see blue, I don’t see red, I see hard-working Americans, hard-working Coloradans,” said Coleman.
“A lot of times we put politics in front of relationships,” Coleman continued. “At the end of the day, all we care about is providing for our families, serving our neighbors and our communities, putting clothes on our backs, food on the table, roofs over our heads. And that’s what you all are able to do and allowing us to do because of the great work you do here in the state.”
Colorado Treasurer and Republican candidate for governor, Walker Stapleton, who attended the rally but did not speak, agreed that energy as an issue should not be viewed through a partisan lens.
“I think it’s really important to recognize, as James Coleman said, that this shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” Stapleton told Western Wire.
“This is about jobs and economic opportunity for the future of Colorado. You have people here who are Republicans, Democrats, independents—what you really have are hard-working Coloradans and we need to make sure we stand up for them,” Stapleton said. “We need to make sure we stand up for an industry that is responsible and regulated and is willing to be responsible and regulated, but is also one of the vital industries towards the economic future that all of us want to have in Colorado for future generations.”
“This is a fantastic opportunity for our industry to gather to support each other and to show Colorado how important the work that these people do every single day to the lives of all of us in Colorado,” Dan Haley, President of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, told Western Wire.
“The work that these folks do allows us to live wonderful lives in the 21st century,” Haley continued.
Last week at a separate industry event, former Obama administration Interior Secretary and former Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar praised the oil and gas industry and called Initiative 97, a proposed 2,500-foot setback, “unconstitutional” and “way off the map.”