Gas and oil corporations have been pushing to open the pristine Roan Plateau up to drilling for years. Recently, they used arguments that Colorado would reap a financial windfall at an auction for drilling sites. They have been spewing figures like $2 billion in total sales, meaning Colorado could receive $1 billion dollars (the federal government gets the rest).
The sites were placed on auction yesterday. How many billions did they end up selling for? $0.114. You read that correctly: the total dollar value of all the sites sold to oil and gas corporations was a mere $114 million. That’s 1/20th the number those corporations were using to ensure the auction took place. The Roan Plateau will have thousands of drill pads developed on its top, changing it for the rest of my lifetime as well as that of future generations. That’s not all. Not only did Colorado get shafted out of $1,886,000,000 of funds corporations played off as guaranteed, the state will end up losing twice because of the actual guaranteed decrease in tourism on the Plateau. Tourism generates $7.3 billion per year for Colorado. That means the state got gipped by the auction once, but any gains realized by the energy corporations by oil and gas prices (which will likely be higher in the future, of course) will act as a double hit to the state in the form of fewer tourism dollars filling the state’s coffers.
What’s particularly disgusting in this case is that the same industry lobbying group that pushed the $2 billion number so hard immediately blamed Democrats for the short-change. Gov. Ritter has said since his time in office that the number was a ploy to get the land sold. Simply put, it worked. Two spokesmen even had the audacity to compare the Roan sale to a previous sale that netted a much larger average bid price without mentioning one critical difference: the Roan is public land while the previous sale was private land. Isn’t it interesting how the government got fleeced by corporations while private land sold for 20 times as much per acre?
Oil and gas lobbyists don’t even blink an eye at this level of immorality. They don’t have Colorado citizens’ best interests in mind. They work to drive up profits while disregarding every other facet of their industry.