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Study: Colorado counties experience rapid growth thanks to oil and natural gas

Zachary Cikanek | | 202.682.8114

DENVER, October 8, 2014 ─ A new study shows that, in 2012 alone, oil and natural gas development generated over $200 million for Colorado schools, supported nearly 94,000 Colorado jobs, and created over $23 billion in state economic activity.

“Thanks to innovations in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, Colorado is playing a leading role in America’s energy revolution,” said API Vice President for Regulatory and Economic Policy Kyle Isakower. “For state leaders, including the governor’s commission, it’s important to understand how vital energy is to the state’s economy, and how much local schools, taxpayers, and workers benefit from responsible energy production.”

The report was conducted by the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business and commissioned by API. It examines Colorado’s oil and natural gas sector on a county-by-county basis, including associated revenue streams for schools, roads, parks, healthcare, and more.

“Over the last few years, Colorado has grown as an energy producer, and that has had a measurable impact on employment, wages, and funding for schools and public services,” said University of Colorado researcher Brian Lewandowski. “Most of the actual production occurred in just five counties, but new business activity associated with energy – management, engineering, financial – was distributed across the state, creating jobs that pay about double the state average.”

For example, in 2012, La Plata County experienced $1.1 billion in economic activity associated with oil and natural gas development, the report estimates. The county’s local energy industry supported 1,350 direct jobs, paid $116.7 million in wages, and generated $12.6 million in tax revenues, including more than $3.5 million for public safety. The county’s school districts, such as Bayfield and Durango, relied on oil and natural gas to generate 48 percent and 32 percent, respectively, of property tax proceeds.

In total, the study found that Colorado’s 31,900 direct industry workers garnered $3.2 billion in labor income in 2012. The industry generated over $410.3 million in 2012 government revenue, including more than $141 million directly to county property taxes. Although the report examines only upstream and midstream activities such as extraction and transportation, an earlier analysis by PWC estimated that the entire oil and natural gas sector supported more than 213,000 direct, indirect, and induced jobs in Colorado.

API is the only national trade association representing all facets of the oil and natural gas industry, which supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8 percent of the U.S. economy. API’s more than 600 members include large integrated companies, as well as exploration and production, refining, marketing, pipeline, and marine businesses, and service and supply firms. They provide most of the nation’s energy and are backed by a growing grassroots movement of more than 20 million Americans.