Where wilderness is concerned, the Buck apparently stops in Weld County

Weld County district attorney and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck sat down with former Colorado Independent reporter Ernest Luning (now with the Colorado Statesman) and Statesman editor and publisher Jody Hope Strogoff for a wide-ranging interview that posted Friday.

Buck and the Statesman were all over the map, touching on everything from his relationships with Gov. Bill Ritter and GOP primary foe Jane Norton to his impressions of Sen. Michael Bennet and his Democratic primary opponent Andrew Romanoff.

Buck also talked about his travel habits, his penchant for Twittering and Facebooking and his proud use of a Blackberry. Apparently that use doesn’t extend to surfing news reports about pending wilderness proposals – something an aspiring senator might want to bone up on.

Buck butchered his answer to a question about things outside of Weld County that caught him off-guard, showing his lack of knowledge about the widely publicized Hidden Gems plan on the state’s Western Slope:

Colorado Statesman: Are there other local issues that you’ve come across — wilderness area, water issues, things like that in different parts of the state that you didn’t encounter in Weld County or the 4th District?

Buck: You know, it’s funny, I was at the Ski Country [USA forum] and they said something about ‘Hidden Gems.’ And on the campaign we’d always talked about the Polis Wilderness Bill and the DeGette Wilderness Bill. And so they said, ‘Hidden Gems.’

I was thinking well, I know this has something to do with public land use and what not. So I answered it in terms of public land use but I’m unaware of that and I don’t even know whether that term appears on the bill or whether it’s just some nomenclature that’s been given to it generally. But I have certainly become aware.

From a Western Slope perspective, where the impacts of energy production, mining and other extractive industries are increasingly conflicting with tourism, outdoor recreation, hunting, fishing and agriculture, Buck’s ignorance of public lands issues is particularly alarming.

And his ability to quickly shift from talking about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to the need to continue aggressively drilling for natural gas in Colorado shows an attitude clearly fostered in gas-rich flatlands of Weld County on the state’s Front Range:

“We’ve got to make sure that if drilling onshore, drilling in Colorado, is safer, we’ve got to make sure we’re doing everything we can to drill here. And the same with nuclear energy. If we can develop nuclear energy, we’ve got to be able to do that. The renewable alternative energies, we’ve got to look at those. If they’re economically feasible, then so much for the better.”

Be sure to check out the full transcript on the Colorado Statesman. It’s instructive. And former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton is scheduled for an interview in the next issue.

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