My First Experience as a Grassroots Lobbyist

I’m new to Mountain Mamas – joining after I heard Colorado State Director Jen Clanahan testify at an Oil & Gas Commission hearing. I’m a grandmother of 4 and my concerns around clean air, a healthy planet and protecting public lands align with this organization.

I was invited to participate in Mountain Mamas’ Federal Lobby Day in March, to talk with Colorado’s Senators and Members of Congress about federal oil and gas leasing on public lands. I have lived in Durango since 1983.  Living under the methane cloud and seeing the boom bust cycles of the industry drew me to this issue. 

While oil and gas leasing on public lands is a threat to the future of the planet, improvements to the system we do have could go a long way toward reducing methane emissions. One of the problems I see is when the Big Boy companies abandon wells with environmental issues and then claim that they have reduced emissions. This should be called out. Abandoned wells can leak methane gas, leaving the public with dirty air and having to pay millions of dollars to clean up their messes. Plugging oil and gas wells and other clean up measures provides both good jobs and cleaner air.

In addition, the antiquated lease process and ridiculously low lease payments are long overdue for change. The oil & gas industry has had a free rein to pollute with little consequence. It’s time for them to pay updated fees so the public doesn’t continue to lose millions of dollars by giving away their land for pennies on the dollar.

In preparation for the call with my Senator, I attended a zoom training where we were given specific talking points with source references. In addition, there were suggestions for effective dialogue – I found all of this very helpful. I tend to ramble so I wrote out what I wanted to say. I have a family member who has worked in the oil and gas industry, which gives me a unique perspective on the topic we were discussing. Her insight gave me some real life issues associated with our desire to hold the industry responsible. Adding these examples made my statement much clearer and relevant. 

The lobby visit I participated in was with a staff member from Senator Hickenlooper’s office. It was a great opportunity to lend my voice to a strong message from Mountain Mamas and it was interesting to see how the Senator’s staff listened and provided additional insight into the role Senator Hickenlooper plays on the Energy and Natural Resources committee. 

I found the visit itself to be very satisfying- it was confirming to have staff take our input and respond. The zoom meeting was convenient, although somewhat impersonal, and I wish we’d had time for all participants to speak more, but this is the nature of the busyness of DC. I look forward to participating again and continuing to advocate for protecting our public lands in Colorado.

To life –

Julie Cooley
Durango, CO

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