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The number of fracking sites in Colorado continues to increase each year. Although fracking was once widely considered an environmentally ethical method of sourcing fossil fuels, now, it is impossible to ignore the blatant encroachment on residential areas and the lives of Colorado localst that it continues to cause. Using a greater portion of the tax revenue in which fracking generates, Colorado could work towards creating renewable energy plants to end fracking, before the state suffers more environmental damage. 

Switching to green and renewable energy would help boost Colorado’s economy for years to come. Colorado is known for its outdoor lifestyle and culture: The Rocky Mountain views, ski slopes, hiking trails, blue skies, and starry nights. These outdoor features attract tourism that directly sustains 11.3% of total Colorado employment(Adams), and indirectly employs many more. In contrast, a study found that “jobs directly created due to oil and gas companies made up less than 1% of the Colorado workforce between the years 2006-2016”(Pizel). Although job creation from oil and gas is a relevant source of employment in Colorado, it is negligible in comparison to the number of jobs that could be lost if Colorado’s outdoor appeal is destroyed by air pollution and climate change. 

On top of contributing to employment rates, tourism also makes up for 5% of Colorado’s GDP(Adams). With the increase of fracking, the tourism industry will be threatened. The skies will become increasingly hazy with each passing year, making it harder to enjoy the views. If climate change worsens, even the ski mountains will suffer as snow levels continue to decrease and winter seasons become shorter. The tax revenue generated from fracking could simultaneously grow renewable energy in CO while also reducing the need for fracking itself. 

Devoting more of the severance revenue towards green energy could help relieve some of the need for local, public, and statewide financial assistance, as well as reduce the money towards environmental conservation. Although a portion of the tax revenue created during fracking goes towards environmental causes, more money needs to be alloted to the creation of green energy plants. The effects fracking has on the local population cannot be ignored. It is causing air pollution, water poisoning, and birth defects. Fracking is getting closer and closer to residential areas straining the health of local citizens. Although fracking creates valuble revenue, it also creates severe problems that more and more money must be poured into to fix. These problems don’t go completely away, even with the government contributing money towards them, at best they just improve. 

In order to help gather as much money possible to push Colorado towards renewable energy, the state needs to hold fracking companies responsible for their taxes. An audit found that fracking companies could be shorting the government millions of dollars worth of severance tax. Fracking companies have not been held accountable or responsible for the financial damage they have caused. There were over 50,000 monthly reports that had failed to be submitted in the years 2016-2018. More than half of the companies have also been caught under reporting; one company in particular avoided over 2.6 million in taxes by under reporting their production levels. The state proposed a tax that would fine fracking companies fifteen-thousand dollars for every day late on their monthly reports. If this tax passes, fracking companies will finally be held responsible for all the money owed. The extra money and the 15,000$ tax is extra currency that could be moved into the fund for renewable energy. This could be huge in both funding a greener future, and creating disincentives for fracking companies to continue(Herrick).

Right now, 50% of severance tax is dedicated to the department of natural resources, but this isn’t enough(Severance Tax). Due to negligence in dealing with climate change in the past, Colorado needs to transfer over to renewable energy as quickly as possible. Even with 50% of the revenue going towards the department of natural resources, Colorado is still ranked as the 11th worst ozones in the country(CBSDenver). It isn’t a coincidence that Colorado as well as other leaders in the worst ozones are all the top states for fracking. Fracking and drilling are directly linked to environmental issues and it’s time for fracking to literally be used as “the bridge” to start helping phase itself out of Colorado’s energy industry to make room for clean energy. 

Colorado isn’t doing enough for renewable energy. We have made progress and that progress has shown, however; in order to fully transition into a greener future fracking needs to go. Right now, fracking is the problem, but with some changes it could become a solution to a greener and cleaner Colorado

 

Citations
Adams, Tucker Hart. “The Economist: What’s the Most Important Industry in Colorado?” ColoradoBiz Magazine, 14 May 2020, www.cobizmag.com/the-economist-whats-the-most-important-industry-in-colorado/.
CBSDenver. “Clean Air Group Says Denver Improving On Ozone.” CBS Denver, CBS Denver, 19 Apr. 2017, denver.cbslocal.com/2017/04/19/clean-air-group-says-denver-improving-on-ozone/.
Herrick, John. The Colorado Independent February 4. “In Wake of Oil and Gas Tax Audit, Advocates Seek Penalties and Reform.” The Colorado Independent, 6 Feb. 2020, www.coloradoindependent.com/2020/02/04/oil-gas-severance-taxes-audit-fines/.
Pizel, Abbey. “A Delicate Balance: Oil and Gas in Colorado’s Economy.” Coloradofiscal.org, Colorado Fiscal Institute, 2019, www.coloradofiscal.org/2019/03/delicate-balance-oil-gas-colorado-economy/.
“Severance Tax.” Severance Tax | Colorado General Assembly, Colorado General Assembly, leg.colorado.gov/agencies/legislative-council-staff/severance-tax.