Meet Inside Energy, A Project To Drill Down On Energy Issues
An ongoing oil and gas boom in the Rocky Mountains and northern Great Plains region of the country is reshaping the way the U.S. gets its power. At the same time, debates over energy production and policy, especially along Colorado’s heavily populated Front Range, are becoming more high-profile and polarized.
KUNC, in collaboration with other public media partners, is launching a new reporting project called Inside Energy. The project aims to step away from "traditional" energy reporting in order to explore issues involving energy production, use, and policy -- from fossil fuels to renewable sources such as solar and wind.
"I think when it comes to energy news, it can sort of feel like eating your vegetables, you know?" says Dan Boyce, Colorado’s Inside Energy reporter. "The idea behind Inside Energy is to take these complex but important energy issues, and make them approachable, make them relatable to those of us who aren't engineers or, you know, experts in energy -- and hopefully make these stories entertaining too."
"Colorado, probably more than any other state, is a proxy for the national energy debate."
Why focus on Colorado, Wyoming and North Dakota?
If you’re going to look nationwide and talk about energy in America, I don’t think there’s a more dynamic area. The three states we’re talking about have about two percent of the U.S. population, but produce about 19 percent of the energy here in the country. And each of the three states has three pretty different identities, for being so close to each other.
For one you have Wyoming, by far the highest energy producer of our three states, and the highest producer of all states with the exception of Texas. Most of its production is based on coal, so in some ways you would consider Wyoming to be the old guard of energy. But the future of coal is uncertain, so we’ll be looking at that issue and how they’ll be moving forward, perhaps in a new energy landscape.
North Dakota, which is essentially a modern-day gold rush… is an area of profound opportunity where people who are down on their luck can go north and really find amazing opportunities for employment. So North Dakota – lowest unemployment in the nation, their GDP has more than doubled in the last 10, 20 years.
How does Colorado fit into the picture?
Colorado, probably more than any other state, is a proxy for the national energy debate. These other states have these new production technologies - not only fracking but also renewables. But these sometimes controversial production technologies, like fracking, in those other states don’t come head-to-head with high populations. And of course they do here in Colorado. Both sides of the argument are very powerful, and are fighting in ways you aren't seeing in other places; there isn't the backlash in Wyoming or North Dakota.
Just looking at November’s potential ballot you can see how much people are questioning the ethics of production in these new ways, and those issues will [likely] be fought out on the ballot here in November.