Publisher’s Note: Can polar opposites attract?

BizWest engages with business leaders on a myriad of fronts. We report on and interview countless executives, entrepreneurs and innovators, and we meet with business leaders and citizens at countless events, whether it be our own conferences and awards programs, or gatherings organized by other organizations.

One of the major ways that we derive insights from the business communities is our CEO Roundtables, monthly gatherings in both Boulder and Northern Colorado in which 10 to 12 business leaders from a given industry assemble to discuss trends, issues, opportunities and threats faced by their organization or sector.

BizWest reports on those conversations, and each one provides valuable information for readers. But two gatherings that we conducted recently have stuck with me more than any other: a morning CEO Roundtable on Energy that we conducted in Windsor, and an afternoon CEO Roundtable on Brewing that we conducted in Boulder on the same day.

The two groups actually share much in common: a shortage of critical workers, regulatory challenges, distribution issues, competitive pressures, and the effects of legislation or public votes.

It’s the latter issue — public votes — where the two groups could not have been farther apart. One the one side were energy-industry executives, whose businesses and livelihood depend on the ability to continue drilling for hydraulic fracturing, and on the other were leaders of breweries with no direct ties to energy production, and who chatted before the formal conversation about the need to pass Proposition 112.

That measure, of course, would extend the setback requirement for oil and gas wells from 500 feet to 2,500 feet from homes, schools and other structures.

Energy executives are convinced that the setbacks will effectively halt all drilling activity, putting tens of thousands of people out of work, thereby threatening their livelihoods. Supporters — including some leaders of the brewing industry — focus on safety concerns and downplay the potential for job losses.

It occurred to me, as I listened to the brewing execs chat about their support for 112, just a few years after energy execs sounded the alarm about its potential passage, that the day was perfectly representative of the state of affairs in the country overall, where one side talks about the other, rather than with the other.

What would be the outcome if energy execs sat at the same table with brewers, environmentalists, outdoor professionals, solar providers or any other sector? Would they emerge more aware of legitimate concerns about safety and the environment? Would the brewers come away with a better understanding of the economic impact of 2,500-foot setbacks?

Would the energy leaders acknowledge that global warming is real and must be addressed? Would environmentalists agree that natural gas has helped reduce carbon emissions compared with coal?

It seems to me that both sides could do better. The energy industry has failed with safety violations that have cost lives. They have not engaged enough with the public to explain their industry. The other side has failed by not realizing that energy companies employ real people who work hard to put food on the table, clothe their children’s backs and live a good life.

Both sides have good people.

Surely there’s a better way.

Christopher Wood can be reached at 970-232-3133, 303-630-1942 or cwood@bizwest.com.

BizWest engages with business leaders on a myriad of fronts. We report on and interview countless executives, entrepreneurs and innovators, and we meet with business leaders and citizens at countless events, whether it be our own conferences and awards programs, or gatherings organized by other organizations.

One of the major ways that we derive insights from the business communities is our CEO Roundtables, monthly gatherings in both Boulder and Northern Colorado in which 10 to 12 business leaders from a given industry assemble to discuss trends, issues, opportunities and threats faced by their organization or sector.

BizWest reports on those conversations, and each one provides valuable information for readers. But two gatherings that we conducted recently have stuck with me more than any other: a morning CEO Roundtable on Energy that we conducted in Windsor, and an afternoon CEO Roundtable on Brewing that we conducted in Boulder on the same day.

The two groups actually share much in common: a shortage of critical workers, regulatory challenges, distribution issues, competitive pressures, and the effects of legislation or public votes.

It’s the latter issue — public votes — where the two groups could not have been farther apart. One the one side were energy-industry executives, whose businesses and livelihood depend on the ability to continue drilling for hydraulic fracturing, and on the other were leaders of breweries with no direct ties to energy production, and who chatted before the formal conversation about the…