U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, questioned U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar about the lack of public hearings regarding a recent wild lands policy at a House Natural Resources Committee oversight hearing Thursday.
Tipton, a Republican from Cortez, said he recently toured Colorados 3rd Congressional District, which includes Montezuma County, and spoke with ranchers, individuals from the oil and gas industry, local governments, the mineral industry, and motorized recreational users. All of them reportedly voiced opposition to the policy, which allows federal land managers to designate large areas of land as wild lands subject to tighter rules aimed at environmental protection.
There was great offense and concern that there were no public hearings, Tipton said.
Salazar said his department has been in contact with the effected communities and will continue to stay in contact. He asked Deputy Secretary David Hayes to comment.
Fundamental to the policy, no wild lands will be selected until there is robust discussion at the local and state level, Hayes said, adding there are several required processes in place. Theres been a fundamental misunderstanding along those lines.
Tipton raised concerns about the impact the policy would have on the energy industry.
We also have a lot of senior citizens, young families that are struggling to pay their bills and theyre seeing regulatory tax increases that are coming through policies out of the federal government that are impacting their electric bills their ability to meet their familys needs, he said.
Tipton asked Salazar if a cost benefit analysis had been done on proposed funding for alternative energies, to which Salazar responded there had not been one.
We have made significant progress in demonstrating the viability of wind and solar and geothermal energies in many places, Salazar said. In particular in the southwestern parts of the United States.
Tipton argued that during tough economic times, such an analysis should be done.
Tipton also voted Thursday for H.R. 4, a bill that repeals a section in federal health care legislation that requires businesses to file a 1099 form whenever expenditures more than $600 are made on services.
In a prepared statement, Tipton said the 1099 requirement forces small businesses to focus their resources on paperwork rather than creating and maintaining jobs.
We must seize this opportunity to eliminate waste and cut spending, he said. Eliminating this onerous requirement on small business is a common sense step to get government out of the way of job creation and economic growth.
Tipton was a co-sponsor of the bill, which passed Thursday with a 314-112 vote and will now go on to the Senate for consideration.
Reach Reid Wright at [email protected]