Gas group sponsors cattlemen’s meeting in valley this week

When the Colorado cattlemen headed for the Grand Valley vineyards Tuesday, they rode out in buses sponsored by two energy companies, Marathon Oil and Williams.

The Colorado Petroleum Association is a gold sponsor of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association convention this week.

Meg Collins, executive director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, a platinum sponsor of the cattlemen’s group, was in the audience when cattlemen’s President Paul Bernklau made his farewell comments at Two Rivers Convention Center.

“We’ve had our fist-pounding across the table,” Bernklau said of the not-always-harmonious relationship with the energy industry. “But we sit down and work it out.”

The energy industry is “for the most part our allies, and they do good things,” he said.
Cattlemen and drillers might seem odd bedfellows to observers of legislative battles between owners of surface rights and the owners of mineral rights beneath. Each side, though, is exercising a property right, said Danny Williams, a cattlemen’s association lobbyist and rancher.

“It’s important that we understand each other’s issues,” Williams said. “After all, we’re using the same land.”

Cattlemen and other agricultural interests were “good partners with us” in the process of drafting new oil and gas drilling regulations in Colorado, said Kathy Hall, the Western Slope representative of the oil and gas association.

“We appreciate the partnership and wanted to be (at the convention) to extend our thanks,” Hall said. “There’s always been a partnership between the energy industry and traditional ag people.”

Energy and the cattlemen could be on same side again as Congress considers changes to the Clean Water Act, said Bernklau, a Rifle-area rancher. Agriculture shares with energy some misgivings about the Clean Water Restoration Act now before the U.S. Senate, he said.

The act, which is supported by environmental and sporting organizations, is a threat to the ranching industry because it would assert greater federal control over water, Bernklau said.

That could make it more difficult for ranchers to impound water for their livestock and manage ditches for their fields, he said.

In his departing comments, Bernklau urged ranchers to remember the same federal government now deeply involved in the auto, banking and mortgage industries had previously taken over the Mustang Ranch, a notorious but legal brothel in Nevada.

“They couldn’t make money running a whorehouse and selling whiskey,” he said.


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