Energy tour draws crowd in Craig, seeks support for exploration
October 26, 2011
At a Glance …
• Energy for America tour stops Tuesday night in Craig.
• About 60 people turned out to the rally designed to raise grassroots support for energy development in the U.S.
• Speakers included local elected officials and representatives from energy advocacy group.
With marker in hand, Craig resident Steve Cattoor added his name to other signatures that covered the Energy for America bus parked outside the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion on Tuesday night.
He was among about 60 residents who attended a rally at the Pavilion that accompanied the Energy for America bus tour's stop in Craig.
Cattoor's not squeamish about energy development or the potential impacts it could have on residents like him.
"It wouldn't bother me to see an oil rig sitting near me," he said. "I guess I could live with that."
The bus he signed was on a 7,000-mile trek across the country to raise grassroots support for energy development in the U.S.
It's ultimate destination is the nation's capital, where it will "deliver the message to Washington, D.C.: 'Get out of our way and let us get back to work,'" said Jeff Crank, Colorado state director for Americans for Prosperity.
Job creation was a recurring theme throughout the event, sponsored by Americans for Prosperity and American Energy Alliance.
Another was government overregulation, which some speakers said is choking the local energy industry and sending its lucrative jobs to other states.
Regulation is "killing jobs in this state," said State Rep. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs. "It's killing jobs in this country."
Thomas Pyle, AEA president, said limited access to federal lands is also imperiling development.
"We're the only developed country in the world that deliberately restricts access to its own energy resources," he said, adding that 97 percent of the federal estate is closed to energy exploration and production.
Audience members seemed to agree with what they heard at the rally. They punctuated the event with applause, whistles and the occasional nod of the head.
"For myself, I think it's useful to help reconnect people with the industries that built this community," Craig Mayor Terry Carwile said before the rally.
He added that before he retired, he worked at Trapper Mine for about 30 years and knew other employees who also spent years at the mine.
"Those are the sorts of jobs that build communities," he said. "Those are the jobs that help you … settle down and raise a family, take out mortgages, buy automobiles and stuff like that."
Carwile took the stage at the event, along with other local elected officials, like Moffat County Commissioner Audrey Danner.
She, too, highlighted the energy industry's importance to the area.
According to Yampa Valley Data Partners information, she said, mining is among the top three sources of jobs for the county.
Not all Moffat County residents agree with the Energy for America's platform.
"I think it's somewhat ironic that this bus tour is coming into Craig only a week after the (Bureau of Land Management) opened up 90 percent of the Little Snake Field Office to oil and gas development," Soren Jespersen, Northwest Colorado wildlands coordinator for The Wilderness Society, said in a phone interview before the rally.
He added that the oil and gas industry has several thousand permits to drill on federal lands, but these permits are sitting idle.
"I think that before the oil and gas industry comes to town saying they need more lands, they should develop the lands they already have," Jespersen said.
Other residents, though, resonated with the rally's message.
"I'm interested in Americans for Prosperity's stance on the regulations that hinders the development of energy," said Chuck Perry, a resident of the south Routt County town of Toponas.
He added that he believes overregulation is stifling the energy industry.
He also was impressed by the overall turnout, despite the constant drizzle Tuesday night.
"It was a good showing," he said.
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