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Voters hold negative feelings toward oil and gas industry

PHILLIP YATES
garfield county correspondent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” A majority of Colorado voters have negative feelings toward the oil and gas industry and support responsible drilling over rapid oil and gas development, according to a recent poll.

Some 42 percent of those polled from the Western Slope had a favorable view of the oil and gas industry, while 52 percent viewed the industry unfavorably, said Craig Hughes, director of research for Denver-based RBI Strategies and Research, which conducted the poll from July 25-30.

Statewide, 35 percent of those surveyed described their feelings toward the oil and gas industry as “very” or “somewhat” favorable. Sixty percent of the respondents described their attitudes of the industry as unfavorable, with 36 percent describing their feelings as “very unfavorable,” according to the poll.

The poll was funded by the Colorado Environmental Coalition, a group that supports proposed new rules regulating the industry now being considered by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

RBI Strategies and Research randomly interviewed 500 registered voters who were likely to cast a ballot in this year’s election. The poll has a margin of error of 4.38 percent.

The sample was 40 percent Republican, 37 percent Democratic and 23 percent registered unaffiliated voters, Hughes said.

Elise Jones, executive director of the Colorado Environmental Coalition, said contrary “to the industry’s massive, record profits-funded PR blitz, Coloradans don’t believe we should drill at any cost.”

“They don’t want to drill everywhere, and they don’t want to sacrifice their health or the quality of their drinking water in the process,” she said.

Jon Bargas, director of public affairs for the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States, said the Colorado Environmental Coalition should count the oil and gas industry among the majority of Coloradans who believe that energy development should be done in a responsible manner.

“That’s why our industry, perhaps the most regulated in the world, adheres to literally thousands of local, state and federal regulations while supplying Americans with the energy they need every day,” he said. “Our industry goes above and beyond what’s required to ensure that the impact of development on our environment and the communities in which we all live and play remains small and temporary.”

Only 27 percent of survey participants supported an approach that emphasized opening additional areas for drilling and reducing regulations and red tape in the drilling process, according to the poll summary.

Silt-area resident Lisa Bracken, who lives about a quarter-mile away from drilling rigs and who is currently tangling with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission about a potential gas seep she says is occurring in the area, said she was encouraged by the polling results.

“We just experience impact after impact,” she said. “For me, (the survey results are) a ray of sunshine.”


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