Natural gas deposits in Green River Basin

Jordan Cove promises significant benefits to the Asian and eastern European countries that want to import Colorado natural gas with the hope of providing their economies and citizens with the long-term benefits that come from clean, affordable, and reliable energy resources.

posted by Marjorie Haun

On Friday, June 1, Colorado Congressman Scott Tipton, accompanied by Committee Chair Rob Bishop (Utah) hosted a field hearing for the House Committee on Natural Resources in western Colorado. Local officials, staffers, media, and a handful of protesters gathered in the University Center of Colorado Mesa University to hear testimony from leaders and experts in the development of natural gas and oil shale, and related issues.

Natural gas and mining extraction industries have been key economic drivers in western Colorado. In the past, the industry has been complicated by “boom and bust” cycles that have driven local economies into regional recessions, sometimes for extended periods of time. With the discovery of vast quantities of natural gas and oil shale in the Green River Basin, which covers parts of Utah, Wyoming, and northwestern Colorado, there is a new focus on creating a regulatory atmosphere and industrial infrastructure that will preempt destructive boom and and bust cycles, protecting jobs and families who are impacted by such instability, and reining in fuel costs.

The Jordan Cove Project, a natural gas pipeline that would connect western Colorado production facilities with processing and export facilities in Coos Bay, Oregon, holds the promise of creating and maintaining many high-paying jobs in the fossil fuel, transportation, and construction industries. Jordan Cove also promises significant benefits to the Asian and eastern European countries that want to import Colorado natural gas with the hope of providing their economies and citizens with the long-term benefits that come from clean, affordable, and reliable energy resources.

Mesa County Colorado Commissioner Rose Pugliese

Commissioner Rose Pugliese, from Mesa County, is an expert in the details of the Jordan Cove Project. Having traveled to D.C. on a number of occasions to work with the Trump Administration in reducing regulatory hurdles and opening international trade corridors, Commissioner Pugliese used the field hearing to reaffirm her support for the project. Below are highlights from her testimony:

There are significant energy resources in our western Colorado counties. Mesa County is 72% federal lands. This means that the federal government controls our economy and the economies of many of our western Colorado counties. Congress and our federal agencies have the power to determine if Mesa County and our neighboring counties have a strong and viable economy. You get to decide if we succeed or fail…

Mesa County is home to approximately 150,000 people and is known as the hub of the energy industry in western Colorado. Many of the energy industry workforce and suppliers, and their families, live in Mesa County while they work in surrounding counties. The loss of energy sector jobs, not just in Mesa County, but in many of our western Colorado counties, has had the domino effect of significantly impacting numerous other areas of our economies. In Mesa County, we have lost over 10,000 jobs, largely due to layoffs in the natural gas industry.

In Delta County, under the Obama Administration, the Department of the Interior’s coal leasing moratorium had devastating effects on their economy. In just a few years, Delta County has lost about 900 of its once 1,200-strong coal mining workforce. The moratorium put at risk another 300 jobs at a mine in southwest Colorado. Anti-coal litigation threatens another 400 coal jobs in Rio Blanco and Moffat Counties.

…The Jordan Cove project is a liquefied natural gas export facility that will allow natural gas to be extracted in western Colorado before being exported via Coos Bay, Oregon.

The Jordan Cove project, if approved, will create hundreds of jobs throughout the Rocky Mountains that will aid in stabilizing regional economies for decades to come. President Trump’s former chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, perhaps put it best when he described the potential for exporting natural gas from Jordan Cove “enormous” for the United States and our allies.

In June of 2016, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) released a report stating that the Mancos Shale deposit in the Piceance Basin of western Colorado is among the largest technically recoverable natural gas deposits ever measured in the United States. According to the USGS, the undiscovered technically recoverable resources in the Mancos deposit includes a mean estimate of 100 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas, up substantially from the 2002-2003 estimate of 1.6 tcf.

This is a “game changer” at more than 40 times the original estimate and one of the largest upward resource assessment revisions in the agency’s history. This new information further dispels the myth that we are running out of natural gas in this country and strengthens the case that the United States needs to export LNG…

…The USGS study makes Jordan Cove LNG the most important energy infrastructure project west of the Continental Divide, representing the only potential for direct West Coast export capacity to the Asian market…

From a local government perspective, the opportunity afforded by pairing Jordan Cove LNG and the Mancos Shale of the Piceance creates a clearer and more stable economic future for western Colorado…

…The ability of Colorado’s bipartisan elected officials to lift Jordan Cove from the depths of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) regulatory purgatory and back onto Colorado’s pedestal of economic promise has demonstrated a strong, uniquely bipartisan political vision for Colorado’s strong energy future.

Additionally, President Trump has been very skilled at identifying the needs of rural communities and working with those communities to capitalize on their assets. He has a true vision for not just energy independence and economic security for the United States, but also has focused on the geopolitical stabilization of our allies in Asia and Eastern Europe. Our western Colorado delegation of County Commissioners and community leaders are currently working with the Washington, D.C. office of the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in a regional effort to market our western Colorado natural gas resources to Asia.

…It was helpful that our western Colorado delegation was able to offer different perspectives on the necessity of the Jordan Cove project and for Trump Administration officials to understand the similarities between the rural communities of western Colorado and those in Oregon. Economically, Mesa County is not like Denver, and similarly, Coos County is not like Portland.

If you truly care about the environment, then supporting the export of natural gas to Asia, India and other Eastern European countries makes sense. The air quality issues in those countries can be detrimental to our global environment, and natural gas is a clean fuel that should be promoted.

If you truly care about geopolitical stabilization, then supporting the export of natural gas to our allies should be a priority…

…We need an efficient and rational permitting process, especially by agencies under your purview, including the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW) and NOAA Fisheries…Timely issuance of key permits requires these agencies to focus their limited resources on those projects that are most viable and will have the most impact, not only regionally, but from a national and international perspective.

While the Piceance Basin has the second largest natural gas reserves in the United States, it also has the largest oil shale reserves in the world, more oil than the oil reserves in Saudi Arabia. During the Oil Shale Environmental Impact Statement, under the Obama Administration, the leasable terrain was downsized from 1 million acres to 44,000, which basically destroyed the future of oil shale development on federal lands in Colorado. If we truly believe in an “all of the above” energy policy, it would be prudent to consider including oil shale development as well…

*Emphasis added

See the video of the field hearing below

House Committee on Natural Resources Field Hearing on the Western Colorado’s Energy Potential

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