Congressman-elect talks with Moffat County Commission |

Congressman-elect talks with Moffat County Commission

Natural resources, economy, telecommunications top local concerns

Brian Smith

Republican Congressman-elect Scott Tipton speaks Tuesday to the Moffat County Commission. Tipton said he would lean on local governments like the commission for advice and guidance during his tenure replacing Democrat John Salazar as the representative for the state's Third Congressional District.
Brian Smith

Republican Congressman-elect Scott Tipton speaks Tuesday to Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers during his visit to the Moffat County Courthouse to listen to the commission's concerns. Top among the issues discussed were natural resources, the economy and infrastructure for telecommunications.Brian Smith

Moffat County Commissioner Tom Gray thinks the county has a friend in Congressman-elect Scott Tipton.

"His values and philosophies match Moffat County pretty well, I'd say," he said.

Tipton, a Republican from Cortez, discussed those values and goals with the commission Tuesday during a public workshop at the Moffat County Courthouse.

Tipton also made no secret throughout the meeting that he wanted to continue to be updated about the issues facing Northwest Colorado, adding he would need "a lot of eyes and ears" when he takes over for Democrat John Salazar, who he defeated in the November general election.

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"We are going to do our darnedest to make sure that we are monitoring," he said. "My mantra as things are coming through is, 'How does it affect the Third Congressional District?' That is what I want to know."

The commissioners discussed the topics they would like Tipton to address and be aware of while serving his term. Chief among their concerns were natural resources and the economy.

Gray said he felt the best way to help the economy was for government to reduce regulations, telling them "don't be the problem."

"Let individuals and companies do business," he said.

Tipton agreed, adding he hopes to help usher the state out of economic recession.

"I am looking at people who … you see a little haunting in the eyes," he said. "They are worried — we can't be piling on through some of these mandates."

Tipton added that he thought legislation like Colorado House Bill 10-1365 and others were cause for economic stress for residents of Northwest Colorado and other rural communities.

"It may be great if you have got everything that you want, and you are sitting in downtown Denver," he said. "But, we are sitting in downtown Craig or downtown Cortez (and) guess what, we would like to provide for our families and be able to build a business here."

Commissioner Tom Mathers agreed with Tipton.

"That is going to affect our coal market here," he said of the bill also known as the Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act. "It's going to cost us a couple hundred jobs."

Mathers said it feels as if legislators and other groups "don't want coal anymore, anywhere."

"That is all we have to offer any part of the state is our natural resources," he said. "That is all we have here — I mean we've got coal, oil, natural gas, hunting — it's all we have to offer and they're taking it away from us."

Tipton said he would seek to support the coal industry and a wide range of energy development from the federal level.

"There is a mindset that it is all of the above — we shouldn't pit one energy industry against the other," he said. "We have got to keep our eye on the ultimate cost to the consumer."

Mathers also expressed his dissatisfaction with new state oil and gas drilling regulations.

"Boy, it just seems like we just get nailed, and nailed, and nailed simply because you know our governor when he got in, he put in all these rules and regulations on drilling for natural gas," he said. "(They) made it to where a lot of companies just moved up to North Dakota because they can get a permit to drill in one day and be right out working.

"Here, with the new rules and regulations, it takes a plan and about six months to be able to move a rig."

Commissioner Audrey Danner said she would like Tipton to keep telecommunications infrastructure "on his radar."

"We have made great strides here in Colorado, and we need to keep working on that," she said. "That will help people choose where they want to live and be effective in their jobs all across the state."

Before he left, Tipton also promised his staff would keep in touch with the commission.

"We want to make sure that our folks are out and traveling to our counties and visiting," he said. "I'm sure it can't be every commissioner's meeting, but (I want) to make sure that we are making a visible presence and that we are reaching out."

Gray said Wednesday he was pleased with Tipton's visit.

"I think he is working really hard and he is excited about his job and knows that he needs to stay in contact with his district," he said. "He is making the rounds and I'm really glad to see that. We didn't see that much, previously."