The Colorado Independent,2020
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Even as domestic drilling for natural gas has dropped off dramatically due to the recession, more and more states and local governments are looking to up taxes on the industry in order to bolster desperately depleted budgets.
State Rep. Laura Bradford says ranchers and landowners in and around Grand Junction and Mesa County are enraged by new, more environmentally stringent drilling regulations keeping them from fully developing their oil and gas mineral rights.
Two Democrats who lost out in a nasty election for the Garfield County board of commissioners last year say the main reason they were targeted by the oil and gas industry was something that happened earlier in 2008 in neighboring Rio Blanco County.
It’s been nearly eight months since former Garfield County Judge Steve Carter says he was ambushed by oil and gas money in his unsuccessful bid for county commissioner, but the Democrat is clearly still seething about what he considers a “stolen election.”
A mineral royalty rights meeting that turned ugly in Grand Junction earlier this month is just a small taste of what’s coming for local and state Democrats running for re-election in 2010 on Colorado’s Western Slope, according to one lawmaker.
A dustup between politicians and landowners at an oil and gas royalty owners meeting in Grand Junction last weekend underscores the complexity of the new drilling regulations – and the heated emotions they stir in some mineral-rights holders.
Most experts agree, the factors shaping the 2010 election on Colorado’s Western Slope – and to a lesser degree the rest of the state – boil down to a version of that old James Carville chestnut: “It’s the energy economy, stupid.”
The question is no longer whether Scott McInnis would have beaten Mark Udall in last year’s U.S. Senate race – a suggestion he made to the Colorado Independent that touched off a minor firestorm last fall – but just how he’ll fare getting the GOP nod to take on Gov. Bill Ritter next year.
Beset by a growing chorus of environmental opposition culminating in more stringent drilling regulations in April, some in Colorado’s natural-gas industry say they need to do a better job of portraying their product as the cleanest burning fossil fuel.
A spike in uranium prices in recent years has sparked a mining-claim rush near a proposed Colorado wilderness area – a situation that would be exacerbated by a federal energy bill that may include nuclear power in a national renewable energy standard.