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DOI activities in Colorado contributed nearly $8 billion in GDP last year

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By Derek Draplin | The Center Square

U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) activities in Colorado contributed nearly $8 billion in added value to the state’s economy last year, according to a report by the federal agency.

DOI activities contributed $7.9 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) to the state’s economy in 2018 and supported almost 66,000 jobs. The agency’s activities also accounted for $12.3 billion in economic output in the state, the report said.

The DOI’s activities include energy and mineral development, livestock grazing and timber harvesting, grants and payments, payroll, and recreation.

Energy and mineral development was the most significant DOI activity in Colorado, contributing $6.1 billion in GDP, followed by recreation, which contributed $1.2 billion. Energy and mineral also accounted for $9 billion in economic output and 38,000 jobs, while recreation accounted for $2.1 billion and 17,400 jobs.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said the report “highlights the significant contribution our public lands make in our economy, which continues to grow under President [Donald] Trump’s leadership."

“As the stewards of our public lands and waters, we are committed to being a good neighbor and serving alongside local communities,” he said.

DOI activities contributed $315 billion in economic output and 1.8 million jobs across the nation in 2018, the report said. 

Oil and gas development on federal lands produced “923 million barrels of crude oil, 4.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 322 million tons of coal” in 2018, which accounted for $151 billion in economic output and 643,000 jobs related to energy development, the DOI said.

Several Democratic presidential candidates have advocated for an outright ban on fracking and halting oil and gas development activities on public lands and have been endorsed by Democratic Colorado lawmakers.

Colorado state Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, endorsed Elizabeth Warren, who has said she would end fracking and halt drilling on public lands. State Reps. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, and Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, D-Denver, have endorsed Kamala Harris, who has said she would stop fossil fuel development on public lands.