Legislation on a lightning-fast track at the Capitol, crafted with no input from workers and industries affected, would drastically change Colorado’s operating rules for the state’s energy industry. At EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel, we are gravely concerned about the economic damage this legislation would cause in the Pueblo area and across our state.

Why is a steel mill so concerned about oil and gas legislation?

EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel is the largest private employer in Pueblo and a leading steel manufacturer in North America. As a leading producer of pipe used in oil and gas production in Colorado, policies impacting the energy industry have a direct and profound impact on our business.

This is true of many companies throughout Colorado that devote all or part of their business to providing goods and services to Colorado’s energy industry.

In the case of the EVRAZ Pueblo steel mill, which has been a pillar of the region’s economy for nearly 140 years, the provisions of Senate Bill 181, including its ill-considered moratorium on new permits while additional regulations are put in place, would be damaging to our mill and our workforce.

When the energy industry slows down, it engages in less exploration. Less exploration means it needs less pipe. It is a very straightforward progression.

This threat would be difficult enough to swallow if it had emerged from a robust and transparent dialogue among the many stakeholders in the oil and gas debate. Conversation and smart compromise have been the hallmark of Colorado’s work to strengthen energy regulations, with the result that our state already has the nation’s strictest rules.

Sadly, the current process is the exact opposite of the thorough and inclusive processes we have seen in the past. The current bill is being rammed through the Legislature in a way that longtime Capitol observers say is virtually unprecedented for such a sweeping bill.

This process is creating the impression that advocates don’t want to hear and consider concerns from those who have contrary points of view. That is a recipe for bad legislation.

We are hopeful that our Pueblo delegation in the state House and Senate, who have been such strong supporters of the mill and our workers, will help pump the brakes, slow this bill down, and insist on an open and inclusive dialogue.

Nothing good comes of creating a rushed law or regulation that lacks the voices and input of those who would be most affected, including local communities, employers and workers.

Continuing the current path is perilous. In addition to the overt threats we know are in the bill, we are equally concerned about unintended consequences, which we believe can be prevented through listening to the views of experts, including those who understand the science involved in energy exploration.

Rushing to the finish line without considering the true cost of Senate Bill 181 will result in economic damage in the Pueblo region and across the state that cannot be easily or quickly reversed. It’s vital to get this legislation right and we urge lawmakers to do the right thing for Pueblo, for working families, forpublic safety and for our state’s critically important energy industry.

Ben Lutze is vice president and general manager of EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel.