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Oil and gas producers fire back at Democratic presidential candidates

By Amy Joi O'Donoghue, KSL | Posted - Feb. 26, 2020 at 10:46 a.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — Candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination have been in attack mode on fossil fuel executives, with Bernie Sanders asserting they should be charged criminally, Joe Biden wanting to jail them and Elizabeth Warren accusing corporate leaders of corruption.

On Monday, an oil and gas trade association representing independent producers in Utah and elsewhere in the West took out a full page ad in the New York Times to respond as Super Tuesday nears.

“It would be criminal not to produce the reliable, affordable energy that keeps people warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and gets them to school to learn and work to provide for their families,” reads the open letter signed by 54 Western oil and gas executives. “Without our energy, the lights go dark, and smartphones go silent. Medicines and medical devices cease to cure the sick and injured. Food cannot be grown and grocery store shelves go bare.”

The ad was placed by the Western Energy Alliance and timed ahead of primaries in 14 states on March 3, including in major oil and gas producing states such as Utah, California, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas.

“We’ve let the rhetoric stand for several months without responding,” said Kathleen Sgamma, the alliance’s president. “Certainly there is a percentage of the far left that thinks the mere presence of oil and gas is causing renewables to be repressed, but if there truly were an alternative we would be replaced.”

The full-page ad features a young boy studying by lantern light, one of the billion people worldwide the industry says lack access to affordable, reliable electricity.

“We’re proud to provide the power and raw materials to manufacture the goods Americans use every day, from clothes and shoes to anything with a computer chip,” the letter says. “Currently there are no alternatives that do everything that oil and natural gas do. We continue to innovate to produce more energy, reduce costs for consumers, and lessen environmental impact.”

The letter goes onto say that electricity from natural gas is the No. 1 reason the United States has been able to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions more than any other country in the world.

We're proud to provide the power and raw materials to manufacture the goods Americans use every day.

–Western Energy Alliance

“We know that people don’t understand how oil and natural gas enables just about every product and service they use every day, but just because we’re taken for granted doesn’t mean we should be vilified,” Sgamma said. “If the political rhetoric we’re hearing this primary season actually became reality, the voters would abandon these politicians in droves.”

The letter concludes by saying the criminal prosecution of oil and gas executives and halted production would send more than 10 million jobs overseas and result in hundreds of billions dollars spent to import oil and gas from other countries.

“We don’t want to be partisan, but when they are attacking us we have to stand up for ourselves,” Sgamma said.

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