The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Report: Natural Gas, Oil Support Progress, Opportunity in Colorado

Tracee Bentley

Tracee Bentley
Posted June 11, 2018

Natural gas and oil touch nearly every aspect of life in Colorado – with responsible, well-regulated development that protects the environment and public health, creating jobs and opportunity while providing significant support for public services including the state’s education system. That’s the broad message contained in a new report, “Progress and Opportunity,” just released by API.

It’s a big role, yet one our industry embraces in a state that’s the nation’s fifth-largest natural gas producer and its seventh-largest oil producer. And growing. Colorado’s natural gas output has doubled since 2001, creating thousands of jobs and providing billions in income and taxes. Though production is localized to a few counties, tax revenue flows into the state general fund and the outflow impacts every citizen through investment in education, transportation and other local government projects.

CO The Industry supports billions

Smart, effective regulation is a key factor in the mutually beneficial relationship between the state and industry. Colorado long has been recognized as a leader in natural gas and oil regulation, the most comprehensive, state-level regime in the country. For its part, industry is committed to safely operating to protect the communities where our employees work and raise their families and the environment, which is important to everyone. Effective regulation plays a critical role, governing every facet of energy development – from site selection to constructing safe wells groundwater sampling, spill containment and accident preparedness and reclamation so that sites are as good or better than they were before operations began.

Safe hydraulic fracturing is industry’s focal point. Technically, fracking is a well stimulation process, but in a practical sense it’s so much more – built on advance technologies and innovations and generating jobs, opportunity and growth. The natural gas produced with hydraulic fracturing means lower emissions and costs for consumers. Our energy abundance, in Colorado and around the country, provides energy for a modern economy and security.

Indeed, the United States has become a global leader in energy production while leading the world in reducing carbon emissions. U.S. total carbon emissions are down to 25-year lows largely due to the affordable and abundant supply of natural gas. We are also the top industry  in the development and deployment of greenhouse gas-reducing technologies, spending more than double the investments of each of the next two industry sectors between 2000 and 2016.

The goals of environmental progress, sustained protections for public health and increased energy production can and should work together.


Natural gas and oil operations are bound by state and federal industry safety standards to protect public health and the environment. The use of natural resources extracted from natural gas and oil development also offer a range of health benefits to society including: helping to reduce air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions and, providing the energy needed to power Colorado’s health care institutions.

Environmental and health risks are managed successfully by:

(1) Fostering Innovation

Industry standards and best practices are updated on a regular basis. For example, the American Petroleum Institute developed a set of five hydraulic fracturing standards to serve as a benchmark to improve performance and mitigate risks to public health. Standards, when properly implemented, minimize public health and community impacts.

(2) Reviewing the Science

Industry scientists carefully review the body of literature that addresses the public health concerns and, to date, there has been no conclusive evidence that industry operations cause excessive health risks. Industry still actively seeks out opportunities to participate in collaborations and partnerships dedicated to responding to the concerns expressed by community members. 

Colorado is more than just a production region, and natural gas and oil have served to solidify the Centennial State’s status as a keystone national energy hub. Denver acts as a gateway point for the Mid- and South West, balancing supply from the Kansas and Texas Panhandle refineries along with those from Wyoming. Colorado is a key transporter, with 17,760 miles of natural gas interstate pipeline and 16,320 miles of oil interstate pipelines. In 2013, the state had 58,200 miles of intrastate gas pipelines, including natural gas distribution and transmission. These pipelines support not only Coloradans, but also the Rocky Mountain region and the West Coast.

Natural gas and oil play an essential role in supporting the high quality of life in Colorado. Beyond providing over 60 percent of the energy consumed in the state — with nearly 75 percent of all residences using U.S. natural gas as their primary heating source — the industry supports more than 232,900 jobs, contributes more than $31.4 billion to the state’s economy, and accounts for almost 10 percent of the gross state product. The industry supports 6.5 percent of all employment in the state, and the average wage in these jobs is more than twice Colorado’s average wage.

Again, for a more complete picture, take a look at our report. Colorado has demonstrated that natural gas and oil, state regulators and other stakeholders can work together on effective energy regulation that strengthens safe and responsible natural gas and oil production. Working both for and with Colorado communities, we can continue to bring powerful benefits the state economy and individual Coloradoans.


Tracee Bentley was named executive director of the Colorado Petroleum Council in 2015. Before coming to API, Bentley served in the office of Gov. John Hickenlooper as legislative director and as a senior advisor on energy and agricultural issues. Prior to that, Bentley served in the Colorado Energy Office as deputy director of policy and legislative affairs. She also served as director of national affairs with the Colorado Farm Bureau. A Colorado native, Bentley earned her Bachelor of Arts and her Master of Arts from Colorado State University in Fort Collins.