As President Obama gets ready to visit Colorado on Wednesday, the Western Energy Alliance is drawing concerns to promises "we've heard before" that they say the president has failed to deliver on.
Tuesday night's State of the Union address covered many topics, one of which was a push for cleaner energy development. President Obama highlighted natural gas as a resource he urges companies to explore.
"It's time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an [oil] industry that's rarely been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that's never been more promising," the president declared. "We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly 100 years and my administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy."
During his speech, Mr. Obama described a direction that will open 75% more of the country's offshore drilling areas, he spoke about the millions of acres of public land that his administration has opened up for exploration, and noted that future development could net 600,000 new jobs by the end of this decade.
But, Western Energy Alliance isn't sure it will actually happen. "We've heard this from the president before, however the policies that we've seen out of his administration have all been obstacles," Vice President of Government and Public Affairs Kathleen Sgamma said.
Sgamma says her group has noticed an increase in new taxes on the industry, more federal regulations, and a large amount of redundancies implemented since the president took office. She says it all contributes to an increasingly expensive scenario for the industry in an already low-price environment.
"North Dakota would not have a billion dollar budget surplus and under three percent unemployment if the Bakken Formation was largely on public lands because it would still be year five of a federal process that takes normally between seven and ten years," Sgamma described.
She goes on to warn that new regulations could jeopardize development on the Western Slope, specifically the Piceance Basin. "Development can become uneconomic if too much regulation is placed on the industry," Sgamma said. "I think the Piceance Basin is so vulnerable to this because of how much public land there is."
The Western Energy Alliance also claims government regulations are holding up the development of nearly 60,000 wells in the western United States. "Those are to be processed over a 15 to 20 year period and would create 60,000 jobs annually. But, those jobs could go somewhere else."
Still, President Obama's promise is unwavering. "Our experience with shale gas, our experience with natural gas, shows us that our initial payoffs don't come right away," he said during the State of the Union. "Some technologies don't pan out, some companies fail. But, I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy."
Thursday, President Obama will use Colorado as a backdrop to talk more about energy policies.