Message from Director John Baza – Summer 2016

The Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining (OGM) began as the Utah Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in 1955.  The primary focus as governed by Utah statute was and has remained fossil fuels and energy resources developed with drilling and mining technology.  For this reason, the Division is often a magnet for public policy issues and debate over fossil fuel development in Utah.

I have learned in my career that public opinion about fossil energy development exists in a wide spectrum.  There are friends and foes of fossil fuels with moderate to strong opinions in both camps. 

In recent years there have emerged very polar extreme opinions on both ends of the spectrum or what I call the fanatics. I’ve observed that very little can be done to sway these vocal extremists away from their almost religious fervor about their beliefs.  While very outspoken, I believe they represent the minority opinion for society as a whole. 

In the middle of the opinion spectrum there are those who don’t have an opinion or the fence-sitters; the fickle who tip one way or the other depending on the last thing they heard or read; and the fearful who worry that establishing opinions may harm their ability to take advantage of opportunities in either direction.

I believe the majority of this spectrum or the ‘rational middle’ understands the value and need for energy development on all levels including fossil fuels and renewables. It is my great hope that those in the rational middle, who run the gamut of moderate foes to friends, will dictate the policies for energy development in our society going forward. 

Our Division is committed to the future of oil, gas and mining in Utah. As our population and demand for energy resources increase, we will continue to ensure responsible resource development, protect the public’s safety and preserve the environment while permitting access to affordable and reliable energy sources for future generations.

Message from Director John Baza – Spring 2016

A few years ago, I went on a camping trip with a friend and his family.  My friend’s father, a retired long-haul truck driver, asked me about my job with the State of Utah.  I said that I worked for the  Division of Oil, Gas and Mining (OGM).  “What does your organization do?” he asked.  Answering almost by reflex, I stated that we regulated oil and gas development in the state.  His reaction was enlightening.  He said, “But don’t we need all the oil and gas that we can get?”  He was right; however, he had interpreted my statement as saying that we were somehow trying to prevent the development of the valuable mineral resources in Utah.  Contrary to that notion, OGM does all in its power to foster and encourage the responsible development of all of the state’s mineral resource wealth.

OGM is committed to the future of oil, gas and mining in the state. Companies and individuals conducting such business activities in Utah contribute significant benefit to our economy and the quality of life we enjoy.   Metals, plastics, electronics, synthetic fabrics, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics,  construction materials and automotive parts are derived from mined materials. In addition, energy and fuels powering our devices, heating and cooling our homes, and aiding in transportation come from Utah’s extractive industries. Clearly, our quality of life is heavily dependent on abundant and affordable supplies of energy. 

Those involved in the extractive industries understanding the science and economics of global energy production and supply/demand relationships, need to be more vocal about the realities of a fossil energy future. There is no magic bullet that eliminates fossil energy from our future and also sustains an acceptable quality of life.  It can be easy to remain silent when energy debates occur, but we must have the courage to speak knowledgeably and credibly about energy when the opportunities present themselves.

OGM will continue to ensure industry compliance and regulate operations in a manner that safeguards the public health and safety while preserving Utah’s unique and precious environment.  As responsible stewards we desire to make the best use of our resources for the benefit of all. 

Our goal of The Drill Down is to highlight our efforts to foster responsible development, protect the public health and safety, and preserve the environment.