Ray Scott keeps focus 
on West Slope economy

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The more reliant economies are on volatile commodities—and energy resources rank at the top there—the less stable it is and worse it performs over time, according to most of the studies I have seen.

Today’s Sentinel editorial (“Ray Scott keeps focus on West Slope economy”) endorses Charles Ashby’s report (“Economic development talks planned with state trade office”), but carefully avoids criticizing Scott’s self-admitted bias towards energy development.

Thus, Scott’s conceptually laudable initiative is fundamentally tainted ab initio, because he 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 (although there may be opportunity for responsible 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).  In 2009, the energy industry accounted for only some 3% of local employment – because of falling market prices, not “over-regulation”.

Thus, Scott is correct in admitting that his “ideas” may not be the “right ideas”, because
—unless they promote the market-driven diversification already (albeit anemically) under way – his singular focus on the energy sector could actually jeopardize that “progress”.

As the Sentinel rightly concurs, perhaps Scott’s best (but unoriginal) “idea” 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”. 

Of course, whenever Democrats propose such Keynesian notions, Republicans typically 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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