Rep. John Salazar spoke to about a dozen local policy makers during a question and answer session at Centennial Hall Wednesday morning.

Photo by John F. Russell

Rep. John Salazar spoke to about a dozen local policy makers during a question and answer session at Centennial Hall Wednesday morning.

Salazar critical of Big Oil

Congressman says industry manipulating increasing gas prices

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— Oil and gas companies are withholding production and largely to blame for rising gas and grocery prices, Congressman John Salazar said in Steamboat Springs on Wednesday.

U.S. Rep. Salazar, a San Luis Valley Democrat, held a question-and-answer period with local policy-makers at 8 a.m. at Centennial Hall, then with Steamboat Pilot & Today editorial staff, as part of a sweep through Northwest Colorado. He said the oil and gas industry's production does not match its capabilities.

"Is the oil and gas industry manipulating prices? I would say so. My numbers show that production was at 80 percent during Memorial Day when it is usually around 96 percent this time of year," he said. "They try to blame the ethanol production (for high grocery prices), but let me tell you, the reason the food prices are so high is because 50 percent of grocery prices at the store is based on transportation, and transportation is driven up directly by the price of fuel."

Regarding energy concerns, Salazar said he supported the "Use It or Lose It" bill, which would have required oil companies to drill within 10 years on land already leased or risk losing the lease. The bill failed to receive the two-thirds majority needed to pass the House of Representatives.

"This bill sends a clear message to the oil and gas industry that they should develop what leases they already have available," Salazar said. Oil companies have 68 million acres under leases across the nation, with trillions of barrels of oil that remain untapped, he said. Forcing them to use land already leased would spur competition and drop energy costs, he said.

Salazar said oil companies have access to resources they are not developing, despite gas prices he said could reach $7 a gallon.

"They're not really pushing," he said. "I don't think it's a shortage problem."

Education

Responding to a question at Centennial Hall from Steamboat Springs School Board member Laura Anderson, regarding the direction of national education policy, Salazar said he had heard concerns from across the state's Third Congressional District about schools struggling with the No Child Left Behind structure.

He said he was optimistic that fully funding the program would help bring the schools up to nationally mandated standards.

"We need to put our money where our mouth is and provide for new engineers," he said.

Salazar also addressed the local concerns of Routt County and asked meeting attendees whether they are seeing large changes in the forests because of beetle kill.

"Every time I've traveled through here and seen the forest changing, it's bothered me more and more," he said. Salazar was scheduled to visit a pellet processing and biomass plant in Walden later Wednesday.

He also urged local leaders to be proactive about energy conservation.

"I would encourage you local officials to stay on the forefront of this and make your community more sustainable," he said.

Routt County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush thanked Salazar, who is on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, for providing funding for the region, including the Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

Salazar also said he would like to create a high-speed rail line connecting Denver and the outlying ski towns such as Aspen, Vail and Steamboat Springs to facilitate day-trippers.

This idea follows the Passenger Rail Investment & Improvement Act of 2008, which the transportation committee passed through the House earlier this month. That bill supported Amtrak expansion but did not mention Colorado.

Salazar is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, a 50-member group of conservative Democrats who work together to sway policy decisions.

Salazar is up for re-election this year and faces a challenge from Republican Wayne Wolf, a seven-year Delta County commissioner and chairman of Colorado Counties, Inc.'s, Agriculture, Wildlife and Rural Affairs Committee.

Colorado's Third Con-gressional District includes 29 counties across the Western Slope and southern portions of the state.

- To reach Zach Fridell, call 871-4208

or e-mail zfridell@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

JazzSlave 5 years, 9 months ago

It's a Democrat year. Obama will have coattails, and tools like Salazar will be running the show. The GOP has so thoroughly discredited itself that its become irrelevant. Even if they had a spine, no one takes them seriously.

The Carter years will seem like the Golden Age by comparison.

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bigdog 5 years, 9 months ago

John,

Why don't you and your fellow demigods just nationalize the oil & gas industry? Along with Health care, banking and transportation you could control this nation.

Believe me, if the land you are referring to was worth developing (risk vs. reward thing) the O&G companies would be drilling on it.

I am sure the geniuses running the government know better ways to solve the risk/reward issues and find/develop resources where others can't.

With idiots like this getting elected to office, we are in for a world of hurt. SCARY!

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colowoodsman 5 years, 9 months ago

ditto bigdog-this guy IS scary. He makes RqDq look like he has a brain. The sagging dollar is causing Wall Street speculators to buy oil futures. The supply problems are minimal by comparison. Foriegn investors are buying leases and drilling all over the US. It has long been the policy of the US to use up foriegn oil first and when that oil becomes too expensive to recover develop our own reserves. We also have numerous enviormental restrictions that hamper developing leases here. Salazar should go back to picking lettuce!

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seeuski 5 years, 9 months ago

Salazar said: "This bill sends a clear message to the oil and gas industry that they should develop what leases they already have available," Salazar said. Oil companies have 68 million acres under leases across the nation, with trillions of barrels of oil that remain untapped, he said. Forcing them to use land already leased would spur competition and drop energy costs, he said. Well which is it you Dems? Drilling will lower costs if it's done on already aproved leases but then the Dem's talking points are that the prices would only go down a few pennies if we drill in ANWR or offshore. They are playing political football with our pocketbooks. All one needs to know is that Harry Reid is getting sick from gas, oil and coal. It's deja vu all over again, get ready for odd and even days just like during the Carter years. Our prices will go up while the Chinese and Cubans drill off of our coastline and take our oil and sell it back to us at inflated prices.

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another_local 5 years, 9 months ago

I agree with many things the congressman supports but he is out to lunch on this one.

Fuel is 50% of food costs? Not even close. Ethanol is not a factor? Get a clue.

A gallon of diesel will transport 40,000 lbs of food for about 5-6 miles on a truck and farther than that on a train and even farther on a barge. Let's say that a truckload of grain needs to move a total of 1000 miles from field to mill to market. That takes 200 gallons by truck. (yes, I know this is not the only fuel cost, just bear with me) With diesel up by $2.00 a gallon that makes $400 additional cost into 40,000 lbs.... which contributes 1 cent per pound.

Meaningful? Yes. On a 50lb bag of grain product it amounts to 50 cents. It also amounts to just 5% of the price increases in the last year.

John, go back to that farm bill you and your brother supported and the ethanol program you swallowed whole.

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uporpeopleu 5 years, 9 months ago

u cannot possibly think america is better off with bush than ANY other time in history. u r the fools! salazar is a good man with productive, great ideas.

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John_Lamb_the_oil_guy 5 years, 9 months ago

Other than the last comment, I second all the previous comments. As a 30+ year professional in the oil industry, I can say that we are producing all that we can. There is no unseen big wig like JR on the TV show Dallas with his evil, lecherous hand and the great oil valve. Oh - wait... Maybe Salazar thought he was on TV....... PS, if anyone wants to talk rationally about the oil industry and oil production, let's get together and do so, OK?

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JustAsking 5 years, 9 months ago

Does it seem to anyone else that Salazar makes wild accusations and makes up "facts' to support his claims?

Does this fall under the heading of "don't let the facts get in the way of a good story" or "tell them anything to get re-elected?"

Looks like SBVOR has been reading the Pilot and collected the real facts for the blog. Interesting....very interesting.

http://sbvor.blogspot.com/2008/07/salazar-vs-data.html

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