To say that Oil and Gas Task Force Co-Chair Gwen Lachelt is driving the agenda of the oil and gas task force meetings is an understatement. From our exclusive report showing Lachelt’s frustration with the outpouring of support for the oil and gas industry at the first meeting to rumors of her hand-picking public commentary, it should come as no surprise to learn that she has inserted radical environmentalists and anti-industry folks on panels meant to explore the issue of mineral ownership in Colorado. One woman who will appear on the panel is raising some eyebrows among task force participants – Mary Ellen Denomy, a CPA who claims to speak on behalf of mineral owners. Here’s why – she’s worked for billionaire-backed environmentalist groups like Sierra Club and even Gwen Lachelt’s own Earthworks and Oil and Gas Accountability Project, she has a checkered history with mineral owners, and her expertise is questionable.
Alliance with Gwen Lachelt
Gwen Lachelt’s disdain for the oil and gas industry is well known and well documented. It would seem that Mary Ellen Denomy has been her sidekick for several years. In fact, at an Earthworks-sponsored event in 2010, Denomy speaks alongside Lachelt, and Denomy has traveled the country giving testimony on behalf of Lachelt’s Earthworks and OGAP.
Over the course of 2014, Denomy has given statements to Colorado courts as a witness for Earthworks’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project (OGAP) and The Sierra Club in legal actions against organizations like the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), which sought to promote safe energy development. Her close association with these organizations and with Director of Earthworks/OGAP and member of the Colorado Oil and Gas Task Force, Gwen Lachelt, suggest collusion in speaking before the Task Force this week.
Does Not Represent Mineral Owners (Anymore)
According to meeting minutes, in 2011, Mary Ellen Denomy resigned from the National Association of Royalty Owners Rockies Board of Directors citing her disagreement with the board to purse involvement in HB11-1125. Rumor has it that fellow board members viewed her desire to convince NARO to join Earthworks as a serious conflict to NARO values to “preserve, protect, advance and represent the interests and rights of mineral and royalty owners”. Despite her
resignation ouster from the group in 2011, Council of Petroleum Accountant Societies, Inc. (COPAS) meeting minutes from 2013 meeting minutes show Denomy continuing to represent herself as a NARO representative. Yeah, she had resigned two years earlier. If she’s misrepresenting herself at the COPAS meeting, what will she do at the Oil and Gas Task Force Meeting?
Misrepresentation of Expertise
Her misrepresentation of her position and expertise continues into her services as an “expert witness.” First, she claims to be an expert and specialist in petroleum accounting. Following her general B.S. (that’s bachelors of science, not…wait….) in Accounting from Wayne State University in Detroit, the sum total of her educational experience are four courses relating to petroleum accounting from three separate institutions, only one of which (Colorado School of Mines) is accredited by the U.S. Department of Education.
She also claims to be an “Accredited Petroleum Accountant,” but she does not list the COPAS accreditation or date of certification on her curriculum vitae submitted to the State of New Mexico Energy, Mineral, and Natural Resources Department as evidence of her expert qualifications.
If you read her brief in the lawsuit filed by Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) and COGCC against the City of Longmont in May 2014, it would seem she’s not only a CPA, but also an economist, petroleum engineer and medical expert. Spoiler alert: she’s none of these. These broad claims are impossible to substantiate and severely overstep her proven work and educational experience.
And the kicker to boot, as an expert who is supposed to represent mineral rights owners, she actually doesn’t even own any mineral rights herself. How can she claim to be an expert speaking on behalf of mineral rights owners, when she seems to be actively working against their best interests. It’s like St. Patrick standing up and saying he is speaking on behalf of the interests of Irish snakes everywhere.
As you’re listening and watching the task force tomorrow, remember that Denomy frequently oversteps the bounds of her actual expertise and draws from discredited examples. Will the task force call her out on her nonsense?