U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., left, and U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, also a Colorado Democrat, center, listen to Robert Baca talk about operations at the Tri-State power plant in Craig, where Baca works. The group stands on the power plant's roof, overlooking its smokestacks and Trapper Mine on the horizon. Salazar is running for re-election to Congress, and Udall is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Wayne Allard.

Photo by Collin Smith

U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., left, and U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, also a Colorado Democrat, center, listen to Robert Baca talk about operations at the Tri-State power plant in Craig, where Baca works. The group stands on the power plant's roof, overlooking its smokestacks and Trapper Mine on the horizon. Salazar is running for re-election to Congress, and Udall is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Wayne Allard.

Standing on energy

Udall, Salazar visit Craig power plant

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U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo., visits with Tri-State electricians Ron Geary and Mark Lehmann, who approached the congressman after his tour of the Craig power plant. Udall is running for an open U.S. Senate seat.

— After U.S. Rep. Mark Udall finished an hourlong tour of the Tri-State power plant in Craig, two workers felt like they had to come out and shake his hand.

"I'm voting for the man," Mark Lehmann said afterward. "I think he's a decent man."

Lehmann, who has worked with Tri-State for 18 years, approached Udall with colleague Ron Geary, himself a seven-year employee at the power plant.

Their professions don't put them at odds with the congressman, who is reaching the finale of a bid for Colorado's open U.S. Senate seat against Republican Bob Schaffer.

Although Udall and fellow U.S. Rep. John Salazar - also a Colorado Democrat - have been targeted by some as being anti-energy because of their pro-renewable energy platforms, Lehmann said they have the right plans for America.

Salazar is running as the incumbent for Colorado's Third U.S. Congressional District against Republican Wayne Wolf.

"I think renewable energy is a major facet" in America's energy future, he said, adding it is "on the horizon" and a positive step for the country.

Udall and Salazar said their energy development positions are based on the wishes of Colorado's long-standing residents.

"I know that we have a big demand for energy production, but the biggest problem is that we represent the people that have been here for generation after generation after generation," Salazar said. "These are the people who are coming to us and saying, 'We want to make sure we can go up there and hunt and fish. We don't want our streams polluted. We don't mind energy development, but let's do it in the right way, because once the energy companies move out, we're staying here.'"

Both men supported a plan this summer from Gov. Bill Ritter, also a Democrat, to suspend drilling on the Roan Plateau and introduce a phased process. The governor's proposal would have left certain wildlife habitats and other areas considered more fragile for last until after companies drilled all other places.

At the time, Udall and Salazar were criticized for holding up development, as the governor's plan came out shortly before the Bureau of Land Management planned an auction for leasing rights across the Roan Plateau.

Supporters for drilling said the BLM's plan - to lease all the acreage at once, including some areas on top of the plateau - came out of 10 or more years of discussion and there needn't be further negotiation.

In the end, the BLM rejected the governor's plan and went ahead with its planned auction.

Udall and Salazar said they are not anti-energy. They have and will continue to advocate for development that works around Colorado's other natural resources - wildlife and wildlife habitat - as well as to push industry to become more environmentally conscious.

Concerning the Roan Plateau, Udall said his philosophy would apply to Vermillion Basin in Moffat County, as well.

Phased leasing that leaves crucial habitat areas untouched until they are needed and shifts development from one location to another not only helps wildlife adapt and survive, but akso results in more money for Colorado residents, Udall said.

"Fascinatingly enough, this great leasing plan, we were told we were going to get $2 billion," he said. "We got about $100 million. If you develop that gas in the right way, it becomes more and more valuable. It's a finite resource. Between listening to people out here wanting to protect their futures and wildlife and getting the best return on our investment, I think we're on the right side of this."

For those beliefs, he has at least two votes in Moffat County.

Comments

nikobesti 6 years, 2 months ago

Whoa. Mr. Lehmann is a man who makes his living off fossil fuels. I'm not sure, and correct me if I'm wrong, but I would bet he's not a registered Democrat. Thanks for your honesty, Mark.

Stand aside neocon dinosaurs. Even Moffat County folks get it. Republicans are looking at catastrophic losses in a couple weeks. The party better retool, and quickly. I actually feel sorry for many Republicans. They voted for the moderate McCain and instead got the same Rove campaign and the same old fear and smear. If party "leaders" don't get a major message this November, they're completely blind. The GOP needs to return to its roots.

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jeff corriveau 6 years, 1 month ago

I am continually amazed at the gullability of the voting public. How can someone in a coal related industry even THINK about voting for Udall? Udall has spent his entire life railing against fossil fuels. Please remember this is the same guy who just recently spoke of shutting down exploration in the Vermillion Basin. He is just like Obama: Will do or say anything to get elected! Please, please see through this smokescreen and give John McCain your vote. He's the one who has pushed for more coal fired power plants; more nuclear plants and offshore drilling along with solar and wind. He's the one that really has Moffat County's best interests in mind!

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cforevereyez 6 years, 1 month ago

You are wrong Nikobesti. Lehmann does not live in Moffat County. He lives in Steamboat Springs. Please stand corrected.

You might want to get the basic facts straight before you start stating what Moffat County folks get and don't get. You certainly don't speak for me, and I actually live in Moffat County.

What I "get" is Udall's voting record and history and it does not support the mining, drilling and power industries in Moffat County. Udalls wife, Maggie, worked for the Sierra Club for more than 20 years. Need I say more? Now he's standing in front of a coal fired power plant smoke stack? Talk about smoke and mirrors!

Don't be fooled by Udalls promises, look at his record, and look at his life. It will tell you more about the candidate than promises ever will. He won't get my vote.

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nikobesti 6 years, 1 month ago

I officially stand corrected, cforevereyz. Thanks for pointing that out. But that's the only point in my post that invalid. (And I will still bet that this November even Moffat County votes less Republican than in any other recent elections).

We still have someone in the fossil fuel industry that's voting for this "evil environmentalist" Udall. Rural Coloradoans on the Western Slope are voting for Salazars and Udalls. Don't you think that's a testament to the GOP needing to change their tactics? Isn't the fact that Republicans are losing ground in the west evidence that many rural westerners have soured on the Republican party?

I completely understand if Udall's views aren't in sync with your own. But just realize that it sure looks like your views aren't in sync with many rural Americans in the west.

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nikobesti 6 years, 1 month ago

Both parties fully realize fossil fuels have to play a significant part of our energy future, and both parties support developing those resources responsibly in America. Both parties support off shore drilling. Both parties support coal and nuclear power. Both parties support developing oil and gas resources on-shore.

However, only one party seems to recognize that we can't live on oil forever. One party recognizes that development of alternative energy sources will lead our economy into the 21st century. Only one party recognizes that if we don't break our addition to fossil fuels, we will fall even farther behind the rest of the world. The other party yells "Drill Baby Drill," and pretends that a minuscule contribution to global supply will reduce gas prices for Americans. THAT's what I call a smoke screen.

Energy is the most important issue of this election to me. Yes, silentman, some folks are gullible; it's those who naively think we can solve our energy problems by drilling.

(By the way, there hasn't been any energy development going on in Vermillion Basin since the 1970s or 80s, so there is nothing for Udall to "shut down.")

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DV8 6 years, 1 month ago

Silentman Yes, Udall will say anything, just like Obama AND McCain. McCain lies through his teeth on a regular basis. Compare his statements from 8 years ago to now. They are different. I believe when the election was between Kerry and Bush this was called "flip-flopping". McCain is just a crooked as the rest he was a big Bush supporter, until he realized it hurt his ratings, now he tries to deny his support.

Yes, McCain claims to support more coal fired power plants; more nuclear plants and offshore drilling along with solar and wind. Yep, that covers all the major sources of power I'm sure one of those matches with every voter's prefered choice. If I support everything... Everyone agrees with me.... right?

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Ray Cartwright 6 years, 1 month ago

What the general public doesn't know is that Taxslave is right. It is not just Utah that permits are being denied but happening all over the US. If you all remember just this spring Kansas denied the permits for Tri-State to build there. Permits are being denied throughout the US all the time and at the present projected electric usage we will be running out of Electricity sometime in the very near future.

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