Moderate approach to fracking urged

The prospect of a ban on hydraulic fracturing in Colorado is “truly petrifying to me,” the head of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association — and a self-described “seriously crazy liberal from Boulder” — told economic development officials on Thursday.

Any of as many as 15 proposed anti-hydraulic fracturing ballot measures could go before the voters in November and passage would be “devastating” to the Colorado economy, Tisha Conoly Schuller told the Economic Development Council of Colorado’s Spring Conference at Two Rivers Convention Center.

“Colorado is being watched to see what will happen here,” Schuller said.

Opposition to the practice isn’t a homegrown movement but one fomented by “outside interests or millionaire congressmen,” such as Jared Polis, the Democrat whose district includes her hometown of Boulder, “and we must defeat them,” Schuller said to applause.

Banning hydraulic fracturing would strike at the heart of a $30 billion-per-year oil and gas industry that constitutes 11 percent of the state’s economy and 110,000 direct and indirect jobs with average salaries of $74,000 a year, Schuller said.

Calling for “de-escalating the fracking war,” will require moving conversations about energy development to a middle ground between efforts to ban fracking and “Drill, baby, drill,” Schuller said.

An afternoon session of the conference focused on the state’s program to provide financial support to manufacturing and other key industry sectors.

Colorado is investing millions more dollars in seven key business sectors as part of the 2013 Advanced Industries Accelerator Act, a state official said Thursday afternoon.

The state will invest up to $15 million in small to mid-sized businesses as part of the 10-year program, said Karla Tartz, chief strategy and operations officer for the Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade.

Tartz explained the program to around 200 business owners and entrepreneurs Thursday.

Manufacturing, aerospace, bioscience, electronics, energy and natural resources, infrastructure engineering, technology and information are the key industries the state is seeking to back, Tartz said.

Tartz is working to leverage the Legislature’s $15 million appropriation for the program to attract federal grants, an effort her office is working to improve, she said.

The investments are part of a larger strategy to strengthen manufacturing by accelerating deployment of next-generation research and technology to Colorado’s small and medium-sized manufacturers, Tartz said.


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