This election season, CEA is delighted to be playing a key role keeping energy issues at the center of the debate leading up to the national election nine months from now. This week, we co-hosted the Colorado Election Energy Summit, where speakers including  former Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Senator Rick Santorum spoke about oil and gas, coal and renewable power, and explained how energy policy is so closely connected to our country’s economic health.

Speakers at the summit (you can watch their comments by clicking the links above), as well as event sponsors like Colorado Farm Bureau stressed that many industries such as agriculture that are key to Colorado and the rest of the country are energy-intensive industries. They spoke about how high fuel costs inflate not just the cost of commuting, but the cost of food, plastic, all consumer goods and manufacturing activity. They explained how the 2010 moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico was replaced by a permitting system that amounted to a de-facto moratorium that has vastly limited our ability to access our domestic fuel. They also outlined the massive volumes of untapped energy in Alaska, and they discussed how tapping into natural gas reserves in states like Pennsylvania and oil in North Dakota had not only reduced our need for imports but also stimulated local economies.

Other sponsors, like Colorado Oil and Gas Association, Western Energy Alliance, and the Colorado Energy Coalition, and Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association used the event to call attention to the abundance of oil and gas on public lands and the way it could be accessed with minimal impact. Another event co-sponsor, Ports-to-Plains Alliance, is an advocate for the economic corridor running from Alberta to Texas and vocal supporter of the Keystone XL Pipeline project.

Colorado contains 40,000 active oil and gas wells, and hundreds of thousands of energy jobs that account for six percent of the state’s job market. The state also has a robust clean energy sector that continues to attract manufacturers to its world-class facilities and experts, most notably the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

But Colorado is also home to energy-intensive industries such as agriculture.  Its diversified economy represents well how both our energy-producing and energy-consuming sectors are impacted by national energy policy.  You may recall that President Obama focused heavily on energy policy during his State of the Union address last month. With this continued discussion, we are hopeful that energy policy, and the way it impacts our economy, will remain a key theme of the election in the coming months. We look forward to hearing more from all those seeking office and to ensuring our elected officials are held accountable for the decisions they make.