Candidates slam gas drilling rules

Regulations on Colorado’s natural gas industry took a beating Thursday from three candidates for the state House.

The three Republican candidates for House District 54 said the regulations have played a role in the economic problems weighing on western Colorado. Meanwhile, David Cox, Bob Hislop and Ray Scott split slightly on how they viewed the state’s priorities.

The three spoke to about 150 people in the Grand Junction City Council Chamber in a forum sponsored by the Western Colorado Conservative Alliance.

Hislop, a retired Secret Service agent and business executive, listed his priorities as public safety, education and roads. He cited the potential of Mesa State College to become a university.

Cox, a Palisade fruit grower, said public safety tops his list of priorities, followed by transportation and education. He also called for the state to adopt a voucher system for schools.

Scott, who owns energy-related and construction businesses, listed his top priorities as education, health care and job creation. He also called for the establishment of a Western Colorado Energy and Technology Center that could help stabilize the local economy.

Cox criticized drilling rules adopted by the Democrat-dominated Legislature as intruding on private property rights, but said the state needs to do more than change the rules.

“We need to convert our economy to natural gas” and use it as a transportation fuel, Cox said.

Scott said changing the drilling rules wouldn’t go far enough.

“You don’t need to fix the regulations. You need to abolish them and start over,” Scott said.

Regulations of all varieties are strangling the state’s economy, Hislop said.

“We need to deregulate Colorado,” Hislop said.

A Democrat, Claudette Konola, has no opposition in her party. The conservative alliance said it will sponsor a debate for all candidates later.


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