Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers said he was pleasantly surprised by a Wednesday meeting with Gov. John Hickenlooper in Denver.
“It was so much different than that other guy, Ritter,” he said while driving back from the meeting. “He is very personable and very attentive. When you talk to him, you know he is listening to you.”
Mathers, along with commissioners Audrey Danner and Tom Gray, met with Hickenlooper and other state staff at the capitol to discuss a wide variety of issues.
Chief among the commissioners’ concerns was Hickenlooper’s stance on energy and natural resources.
The meeting was organized in response to a letter sent in November from the commission seeking to make the governor aware of Moffat County’s stance on those issues.
Mathers said the commission and Hickenlooper discussed a Bureau of Land Management proposal to ban energy development in Vermillion Basin, clean coal technology, and the passing of Colorado House Bill 10-1365, also known as the Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act, among other topics.
Mathers said the three were the first commissioners to meet with Hickenlooper in such a manner, and were afforded 50 minutes of the governor’s time.
The process of how H.B. 10-1365 was passed was a point of conversation between the two parties, he said.
“I mentioned to him that I know it was before his time, and he didn’t have a part in that, but, if anytime another bill like that started off that we’d certainly like to be at the table and let them know the downside of that bill and how it affects our community before it ever gets as far as it did,” he said.
Mathers said he was also pleased with the governor’s reaction to discussions about further development of clean coal technology.
“One of the things that I really liked that he said was when we were talking about the coal, he said he supports clean coal technology, especially if it is in Colorado,” the commissioner said. “To me, ‘supports’ means that if he had any money, he’d throw it towards it.”
The three also asked Hickenlooper to examine and reverse the Vermillion Basin decision.
“He didn’t know that he had the power to change that and he hadn’t heard of that process,” Mathers said. “But, apparently, they are going to look into it and see.”
Gray said the commission explained the local planning process that went into finding a balance for drilling in the 77,000-acre basin in western Moffat County and dispelled some of the misconceptions about the issue.
He said he also described the process Hickenlooper could take to have the decision “brought back from the extreme to the local plan, which is in the middle.”
Overall, Gray said there wasn’t anything he didn’t like about the meeting, or with Hickenlooper’s comments.
Although the commissioners had nearly an hour with the governor, they didn’t get to discuss everything they wanted, like water issues, Gray said.
“We didn’t get to everything that we wanted to talk about simply because … well, you know how discussions can go if you have several points you want to touch on,” Gray said.
Danner said she was also pleased with the meeting.
“Governor Hickenlooper is willing to talk about the issues, even ones that weren’t of his doing such as Vermillion,” she said. “He is willing to address those issues that are still of concern to the community.”
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