Colorado Congressman Cory Gardner, like many Republicans this week, took aim at President Obama over gas prices. He dismissed the president’s proposal to tap national oil and gas reserves as an election-year political fix and called instead for more oil and gas drilling on federal lands. But Gardner’s proposal drew a swift fact-check rebuttal from his Fourth District Democratic opponent, Senate President Brandon Shaffer, who said it was Gardner who was playing politics.
Shaffer pointed out in a release that oil production in the U.S. is already at historic levels, up 13 percent since Obama took office. He said that, although Gardner sometimes talks like an environmentalist and a friend to energy consumers, the freshman congressman always votes like a friend to big oil.
From the Shaffer release:
Today Congressman Cory Gardner held a press conference claiming he is committed to addressing the energy crisis and lowering gas prices, however his voting record in Congress tells a different story. He consistently doesn’t support energy alternatives, including natural gas, and sponsors handouts to big oil companies with legislation like H.R. 2021….
“We need an ‘all of the above’ strategy for energy that goes beyond oil,” [Shaffer said]. “Cory Gardner votes for subsidies for big oil while pushing the same tired, failed ideas that got us to this point. The incumbent Congressman is quick to protect big oil, but unfortunately has done little to help the middle class, the ones who are truly struggling in this economy.”
Shaffer referred to the fact that Gardner has pulled down large sums from campaign donors with ties to oil and gas corporations, more than any other member of the Colorado delegation, and Shaffer detailed the fact that energy resource extraction is booming under Obama.
“The number of oil drilling rigs in the United States has quadrupled over the past three years, recently hitting a record high. The United States now has more oil and gas drilling rigs at work than the rest of the world combined. For the first time in more than ten years imports accounted for less than half the oil consumed in America in 2010. In 2011, America’s dependence on foreign oil fell to its lowest level in 16 years.”
Shaffer, a decided underdog in his race to unseat Gardner, has repeatedly made the claim that Gardner is too ideological as a lawmaker.
“He has sided with anti-environmental radicals time and time again,” Shaffer told the Colorado Independent last year. “We’re all in favor of streamlining red tape, but people understand there has to be balance.”
Shaffer said Gardner’s voting record suggests he doesn’t weigh the upside and downside of individual bills but that he reacts instead according to ideological positions. He says Gardner has simply made up his mind that government regulation as a generalized concept is bad.
“Coloradans know that natural gas, for example, is key to the economy,” Shaffer said, “but there is also a strong desire here to maintain clean drinking water and clean rivers. Clean water is a top priority in this state. I’d say it’s the biggest environmental concern.”
Given that mining and drilling compete with major outdoor tourism in Colorado and that Centennial State culture has long been tied to appreciation for the majestic mountain landscape, Shaffer said lawmakers here are intensely aware of the push and pull between developing natural resources and protecting the environment. He said many of the regulations in place have been hammered out at the capitol in Denver and that effective Colorado legislators learn how to look for balance.
“In writing regulations, we have to work in a business-friendly way,” he said. “It’s the difference in working off of talking points and believing in what you say.”