Economic development talks planned with state trade office, Scott says

State Rep. Ray Scott may be making some headway in his recent request to Gov. John Hickenlooper to focus more on economic development on the Western Slope.

The Grand Junction Republican said the director of the state’s Office of Economic Development & International Trade, Ken Lund, has reached out to him and is requesting a meeting.

“He wants to review what he has been up to and go over some of the things that I pointed out,” Scott said of his pending meeting. “He was just reaching out to say, ‘Hey, I got it, we got it, let’s talk.’ We’re going to have more conversations.”

Earlier this month, Scott sent a letter to the governor asking for “a high-level meeting” with him and other economic development folks with the state and locally to talk about different ways to help spur the Western Slope’s economy.

Though much of Scott’s letter focused on the oil and gas industry, he said he’s also pushing for any “outside-the-box” ideas.

“We don’t want your normal, let’s go see the grapes and ride bicycles in Grand Junction type of stuff,” Scott said. “This is an energy-based economy, so that’s where we have to start. I’m not saying those are the right ideas, but they are ideas.”

Among Scott’s suggestions:

■ Suspension of any state rules and regulations that impede or reduce efficiency for local businesses;

■ Request a meeting with officials with the Bureau of Land Management to get the federal agency to recognize the legitimacy of natural gas leases on the Roan Plateau;

■ Establish a task force to study the feasibility of moving state agencies that directly impact western Colorado to the region as a way of helping stabilize the economies in some local communities and getting them closer to the local people they work with;

■ Impose a temporary suspension of state license fees to local companies on the Western Slope for a year to help boost business development.

Scott also is proposing that the state work with the railroads and area coal mines to help promote exporting coal to China or elsewhere in the world.

“We’ve got the McClane Mine up here that’s been working very hard trying to get a rail spur,” he said. “The mine will be down to one employee, and he’s a security guard. That’s one of the largest coal seams in the western United States. Can we export that coal to China? I don’t know. I’m just throwing those questions out there.”



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Kudo’s to Charles Ashby (“Economic development talks planned with state trade office”) for exposing State Representative (and would-be State Senator) Ray Scott as a shill for the energy industry—and partisan hypocrite.

Scott’s initiative – albeit conceptually admirable – is tainted ab initio, because it indulges the all-to-familiar false premise that:  “This is an energy-based economy, so that’s where we have to start”.

In fact, the Grand Valley’s (and thus House District 55’s and/or Senate District 7’s) real economy is not “energy-based” at all (albeit, there is ample opportunity for expansion).

Rather, Fall 2013 employment data published by the Grand Valley Economic Partnership reveals that no energy developer ranked among the top 25 employers in the Grand Valley (although Halliburton did in 2004).  Thereafter, in 2009 (post “bust”), the energy industry accounted for only some 3% of local employment.

Thus, Scott is correct in admitting that his “ideas” may not be the “right ideas” – because they are obviously not – and could even jeopardize market-driven diversification already in progress by favoring one segment over others.

The best idea Scott offers is to expand Colorado’s governmental presence on the Western Slope, both “as a way of helping stabilize the economies in some local communities and getting them closer to the local people they work with”.  Does Scott support increasing the number of state environmental inspectors and officing them closer to the “gas patch”?

Of course, whenever Democrats propose such Keynesian notions, Republicans insist that “government can’t create jobs” – much less “stabilize economies”.

Therefore, Scott would have more credibility if he advocated repealing the Halliburton Exceptions to the Safe Drinking Water, Clean Water, and Clean Air Acts, and – in the midst of another unhealthy inversion – explain to his constituents why the oil and gas industry still deserves preferential treatment under those essential environmental laws.

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