Pipeline to prosperity?

The natural gas industry in Western Colorado won’t suddenly return to full-bore boom if a new pipeline is approved between southern Wyoming and northern California.

The global recession and decreased demand for natural gas, particularly for industrial applications, are the main factors driving prices down and slowing production.

But western Colorado gas prices are already lower than those in other parts of the country, in large part due to limited pipeline capacity, which makes it more difficult to get this region’s gas to large markets.

In that regard, the Ruby Pipeline to the West Coast would provide a significant boost to gas produced in this region, especially when demand for gas picks up again. If all goes as planned, the Ruby Pipeline will be completed in 2011.

Gov. Bill Ritter’s request to the federal government to expedite the permit process for the pipeline, therefore, makes a good deal of sense.

But requests to federal authorities from state governors — even governors like Ritter, who appear to be in good standing with the president — don’t always bear fruit. Critical to the future of the gas industry in this area will be whether the Obama administrations shows the same enthusiasm for the Ruby Pipeline as Ritter and gas industry officials do.


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