Candidates leery of race toward cutting coastal drilling

The disaster in the gulf of Mexico shouldn’t prevent further drilling in deep coastal waters, two candidates for the U.S. Senate said.

Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, and Jane Norton, a Republican, each of whom was in Grand Junction separately last week, said the most likely result of the continuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will be greater emphasis on regulation to prevent similar incidents.

“There have been thousands of platforms drilling for years in the Gulf,” Norton said Saturday during an interview before speaking to about 35 supporters in Canyon View Park. While “There will be a full investigation,” Norton said the incident should not discourage the nation’s continued search for energy from sources within or near its own borders.

“People shouldn’t rush to judgment,” Bennet said of the explosion that destroyed the drilling platform and the subsequent continuing spill. “We have to figure out what happened here.”

The long-range repercussions of the spill will likely be more rigorous regulation, Bennet said.

Bennet spoke Friday during a visit to a veterans-housing program in Grand Junction.

Both candidates emphasized the need for development of a range of energy sources, with Norton pointing also to the need to drill for natural gas on western Colorado’s Roan Plateau and for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.

Both candidates also are seeking to gain spots on their respective party primary ballots.

Norton submitted petitions containing 35,000 names, more than three times the amount necessary, to get on the GOP ballot. She expects to be certified to the ballot by the end of the week, Norton said.

Norton, however, criticized Bennet as a “rubber stamp” for President Obama, particularly on health care legislation passed this spring.

“I will vote to repeal Obamacare,” Norton told her supporters.

Norton also called for a 20 percent reduction in government spending, bringing it back to 2009 levels, and for balancing the budget without new taxes.

In showcasing her platform for the campaign, Norton said she was stressing jobs and economic recovery; halting government spending and keeping the United States “free, safe and sovereign.”

Norton and Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck are vying for the GOP nomination for the Senate.

Bennet is challenged by Andrew Romanoff, the former speaker of the Colorado House.


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