Northwest Colorado’s economy thrives when responsible development of natural resources is robust and tourism is steady. Energy production provides good-paying jobs and affordable gas and electricity in our state and in Northern Colorado, while a healthy natural environment draws tourists from all around the world who come to enjoy Colorado’s scenic natural beauty and world-class skiing like that in Steamboat Springs. It’s important that as we develop energy resources including oil, gas and clean coal, we put equal effort into common-sense conservation and environmental protection.
Colorado’s proud tradition of environmental protection and energy development is abundant in Gov. John Hickenlooper’s leadership in establishing a responsible standard to monitor oil and gas production, and ensuring that our water remains safe and clean. Prevention is the best form of conservation, and having responsible and consistent production guidelines in place will help keep the environment healthy as we strengthen our economy through responsible energy development. This type of proactive conservation is at the heart of legislation that I wrote and plan to continue to push for if re-elected: the Healthy Forest Management and Wildfire Prevention Act.
Devastating wildfire has long-lasting effects on communities in forested areas and the natural environment, including contamination of water supplies by runoff and ash; destruction of vegetation, wildlife habitats and property; and tragic loss of life. Unfortunately, Coloradans are all too familiar with these realities, as are residents in many Western states where drought, bark beetle infestation and high temperatures have combined to create prime conditions for wildfire.
We must do more to reduce the risks of wildfire and restore our forests to a healthy, natural state. The Healthy Forest Management and Wildfire Prevention Act would empower governors and county commissioners to identify areas most at risk for wildfire and initiate emergency hazardous fuels reduction projects. Equipping local leaders with the ability to determine their own destinies in this regard would be a vast improvement in these efforts. This bill has been endorsed by the Routt and Moffat County commissioners, who agree that with a more proactive approach to managing our forests, we can better prevent future disasters and strengthen our environment, as well as Colorado tourism and recreation.
Visitors from around the world come to Colorado for its scenic natural beauty and to enjoy world-class recreational opportunities including skiing, hiking, fishing and hunting. The revenue these tourists bring to our state’s economy sustains many small businesses and creates jobs. While tourism can nourish local prosperity, it’s also an industry subject to boom-and-bust cycles. Rising energy costs, high unemployment and shrinking budgets all affect the amount of disposable income families have to spend on vacations and similar activities.
The best way to ensure a steady flow of tourism is to foster a strong U.S. economy with low unemployment. By responsibly developing our country’s abundant natural resources, we can create jobs, lower energy costs and provide American energy security and long-term economic certainty. With this in mind, I introduced the Planning for America’s Energy Future Act. This bill, which passed in the House, would establish a true all-of-the-above energy policy in this country by putting into place criteria to set production goals for hydropower, wind, solar, geo-thermal, clean coal, minerals, oil, natural gas and oil shale, based on the needs of the American people.
Increased all-of-the-above energy development would create many new jobs in this country, including jobs in Northwest Colorado. When re-elected, I will work to advance a true all-of-the-above energy plan to put people back to work, continue to fight hard to protect our natural environment and reduce the risk of wildfire and ensure that Colorado remains vibrant for all who visit or call it home.
Rep. Scott Tipton, a Republican, is Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District representative. He is from Cortez. Learn more at www.votetipton.com.