Trade group out to play bigger role in Colorado energy development

Tracee Bentley
Tracee Bentley

Phil Castle, The Business Times

       A newly formed council will draw on the resources of a national trade association in playing a greater role in energy development in Colorado, according to the leader of the state group.

The American Petroleum Institute established the Colorado Petroleum Council at the request of members, but also because of the issues involving energy development, says Tracee Bentley, executive director of the council. “Colorado is just at the forefront of most of the country for issues regarding our industry.”

Bentley discussed the council and her new position during an interview in Grand Junction with the Business Times.

Jack Gerard, president and chief executive officer of the API, stated in a news release the right policies are needed in Colorado to maintain the energy development that’s bolstered economic growth in the state. “Bipartisan cooperation among state government officials and business and consumer groups to address critical energy development issues will ensure Colorado remains a leader in creating energy jobs.”

Bentley says those issues include hydraulic fracturing, air quality regulations and energy infrastructure.

Bentley brings to her new duties experience in a variety of government and lobbying positions. She most recently served as legislative director and senior advisor on energy and agricultural issues for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. She previously served as deputy director of policy and legislative affairs for the Colorado Energy Office and director of national affairs with the Colorado Farm Bureau.

Bentley launched a Colorado-based lobbying firm in 2008 and also served as a regional director for a national initiative to move toward more home-grown energy to promote rural economic development. She worked in Washington, D.C., for then U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell.

Bentley holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Colorado State University and has taught public speaking at CSU and Regis University.

In her latest role, Bentley says she expects to be involved in legislation, regulations and rule making affecting oil and natural gas companies in Colorado. That will include implementing the recommendations of an energy development task force formed to address land use conflicts involving oil and natural gas production.

Bentley says she’ll also be involved in efforts to educate people about the oil and natural gas industry and the value of the industry in Colorado. That value will become more apparent, she says, as a slowdown related to low oil prices affects production and employment in the state.

Bentley says the Colorado Petroleum Council is different than other industry groups in that it can draw on the resources of API and its more than 600 members nationwide involved in all aspects of the production, processing and distribution of oil and natural gas. “I think that’s a huge benefit for us.”

But she doesn’t expect the new group to replace other groups representing the oil and natural gas industry, but add to their efforts. “It’s not displace. It’s add another skill set, another voice.”