Energy, Environment and Public Lands
Increasing access to American energy sources will create jobs, grow our economy and reduce our nation’s dependence on energy from volatile foreign countries.
Spanning the Colorado Rocky Mountains, Colorado’s Third Congressional District is blessed with abundant natural resources, open spaces and scenic beauty. Our energy portfolio includes traditional energy resources like natural gas, oil and clean coal, as well as renewable sources like wind, solar and hydropower.
Development of our energy resources must be done carefully and responsibly, so that we can preserve our state’s environment and pristine beauty. To that end, I am committed to keeping Colorado beautiful through responsible conservation and forest management, and by ensuring that our open spaces and public lands remain accessible so that people from all around the world continue to visit and experience our world class skiing, hiking, angling, hunting and many other types of outdoor recreation. Development of our domestic energy resources is critical to create jobs, grow our economy and increase our nation’s energy security. I strongly support an comprehensive energy approach that includes development of natural gas, clean coal and American made oil, as well as critical alternative energy sources such as hydropower, wind and solar. This will create new job opportunities in Colorado and throughout the country while making us less dependent on unreliable foreign energy and decreasing energy costs to American families and small businesses.
Since arriving in Congress, I have made it a priority to find a responsible balance between development of our energy resources and conservation of our natural treasures and open spaces. I believe that both can be achieved at the same time.
This is a critical time for water issues in the West. Pristine rivers and streams prominently traverse Colorado’s landscape, serving as a vital lifeline for families and local economies. The farming and ranching community, ski industry and countless others rely on Colorado’s precious water for their livelihoods. We have significant opportunities to protect and responsibly develop our water resources, while ensuring that our state’s water remains under local control, and finding storage solutions to keep more of Colorado’s water in Colorado.
In addition to these legislative items, my colleagues and I in the House Natural Resources Committee have held a number of hearings to examine federal management of water resources and the ways in which those policies and practices can be improved. We saw federal efforts to rearrange the legal structure by which water rights are held and confiscate private water rights for federal ownership—the latest in a line of several federal efforts to end-run Colorado water law.
Recently, the federal government has undertaken an effort to confiscate private water rights, this time through the use of permit conditions for ski areas. It’s clear from the past conduct of the Forest Service and other federal agencies that there are broader implications than the impact this action is having on the just ski industry and the jobs it supports.
All water rights owners should be concerned about the precedent the water clause in ski area permit could set. Because of the significant percentage of water that originates on National Forest System lands in Colorado, this issue could impact all entities that have water rights associated with any National Forest System lands, and if adopted by other federal agencies, the scope of that impact could be even broader. Those potentially impacted by this type of federal authority over water rights originating on public lands include cities, counties, water districts, owners of private residences, marinas and summer resorts, and other businesses such as ranching, mining, or utilities.
Water right allocation is a matter of state law and the federal and state courts have repeatedly held that the Forest Service does not have expansive federal reserved rights. It is my hope that my colleagues and I in the Natural Resources Committee can be a constructive force for state control of water as the session continues.
As you know, a stable water supply is critical to western economies, jobs, and food security. The uncertainties of annual water availability can imperil those communities which are hindered by an unwieldy regulatory framework that hinders the ability to store water for vital purposes. Through prudent supply management and the ability to store much needed water, communities can support jobs that depend on the availability of water, protect food security, control flooding, ensure continued recreation opportunities, provide water for the development of hydropower, and meet environmental protection needs.
Among the immediate concerns regarding water storage is this year’s relatively low snow pack levels in Colorado. Streamlining the regulatory permitting process can help better prepare those communities that rely on snow pack to support local economies. My aim is to draw renewed attention to this important issue that is too often forgotten in D.C. I am optimistic that this effort can help set us on a path towards smarter policies governing water storage.
Water policy is a high priority to me and I remain dedicated to protecting and enhancing Colorado’s precious water resources.
To help meet this country’s need for increased access to clean hydropower, I passed H.R. 2842, the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act of 2011.
This bill has passed in the House with bipartisan support I am optimistic that it will receive a vote in the Senate and ultimately become law, streamlining the federal regulatory process for small hydropower projects on Bureau of Reclamation conduits and allowing job creators to invest in production on those projects, while ensuring that water supply remains the primary purpose of Reclamation conduits. Taking advantage of this legislation could produce up to 1400mw of power in Colorado alone and support much needed rural jobs the process.
This bill dovetails with my earlier co-sponsorship of H.R. 795, the Small-Scale Hydropower Enhancement Act of 2011which would eliminate costly regulatory hurdles that render small scale hydro power projects on non-federal conduits unfeasible.
Colorado is a wind energy leader, and accounts for the third highest percentage of wind power in this nation. Wind energy plays an important role in the Third Congressional District and while this renewable resource is still up-and-coming, it accounts for nearly 6,000 jobs in the state of Colorado. I recently joined with many of my colleagues on the Colorado Congressional delegation in standing up for wind energy by encouraging the temporary extension of the wind production tax credit with a pay for. This credit has helped jump start development of this new, responsible energy resource, and as the industry continues to grow, this credit should be phased out. See more on wind energy here.
I recently cosponsored a measure (H.R. 6154) introduced by Reps. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Mike Thompson (D-CA), that would encourage the development of renewable energy resources on public lands by streamlining the permitting process.
As it stands, the permitting process can take years before renewable projects are able to move forward on public lands. The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act seeks to restructure the application process to more resemble that which is currently in place for traditional resources, creating a more streamlined process for renewable projects. Additionally, the bill would establish royalty rates for renewables on public lands, sending the majority of revenues back to counties and states where the projects are located, as well as in support of conservation efforts.
I’m a strong supporter of an all-of-the-above energy plan that includes renewable energy resources such as wind, solar and hydropower, as well as traditional resources like natural gas, oil and clean coal. By advancing a true all-of-the-above plan, we can create American jobs, lower energy costs and increase our nation’s energy security.
The Western United States may hold more than 1.5 trillion barrels of oil--enough to provide the United States with energy for the next 200 years. Unfortunately, the BLM issued 46% fewer oil and gas leases in Colorado in 2010 than in 2005, and leasing revenue has dropped by 85% during that time.
Colorado, along with our neighboring Western states, is in a unique position to contribute to our nation’s energy security and ensure that the United States remains competitive in the world market. By promoting a common-sense regulatory framework, embracing domestic energy research and development, and applying environmental and safety standards already on the books rather than adding costly new mandates, we can help meet America’s energy needs right here at home, providing energy security that will benefit American families.
Shovel-ready projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline would create thousands of American jobs – an estimated 13,000 construction jobs and 7000 indirect, manufacturing-related jobs during the construction phase alone, plus hundreds more in refining, marketing, maintenance, delivery, and related businesses over the long term. Additionally, the Keystone project will provide a secure source of the crude oil necessary to fuel any American economic recovery. I will continue to pressure the Administration to approve this project immediately. Read more.
An all-of-the-above energy plan that includes renewable energy resources such as wind, solar and hydropower, as well as traditional resources like natural gas, oil and clean coal is the surest way to increase affordable American energy, create American jobs and strengthen American energy security.
That is why I introduced the Planning for American Energy Act (H.R. 4381). This legislation would establish a true all-of-the-above domestic energy plan, putting into place common sense steps to create a framework for using federal lands to responsibly meet America’s energy needs. Read more.
I’m proud that this bill was included as a title under the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act, establishing production goals for a true all-of-the-above domestic energy plan that includes wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal, oil shale, oil, natural gas, coal and minerals needed for energy development. If passed by the Senate, the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act would jumpstart American job creation, and create energy certainty and security in this country through a true all-of-the-above approach. Read more.
To be sure common sense rules play an important role in our economy and in keeping the American people safe. However, common sense has been lost in a regulatory process that has become politicized and wrought with bureaucracy and overlap. We continue to see the fallout from job-killing regulations that have crushed economic recovery and left millions of Americans out of work.
The Western Slope has been hit especially hard by policies that have stamped out development of our natural resources and suffocated economic growth. We must revisit the duplicative and unnecessary regulations that have stifled energy production and killed jobs. It’s time to put an end to the Obama Administration’s assault on energy production and get our country’s economy moving once more.
I support a balanced approach to public land use that includes respecting the environment that we all deeply value, while making the best use of our natural resources. Recreation, preservation, access and job creation are all important aspects of the multiple use management for which these lands are truly intended.
In this vein of conservation, I introduced an amendment to an interior appropriations bill (H.AMDT. 734 to H.R. 2584) to direct $5 million from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Programs and Management Fund, to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, in the amount of $2.5 million to the Bureau of Land Management and $2.5 million to the Forest Service. Instead of using these funds to feed the bureaucracy, my amendment directs the funds to be used for conservation, to expand access to public lands, and to help fund making public lands, public. This amendment was adopted and included in the bill that was passed.
I support conservation and preservation of Colorado’s scenic, historic and cultural treasures and believe that land use designations should be driven with a balance of local initiative and consideration that public lands belong to all Americans. Such as the case with Chimney Rock, where I have worked with local citizens and groups to elevate one of Colorado’s most important cultural and historic treasures to a national monument. The national monument status will increase awareness and interest in Chimney Rock and in the region, creating new tourism opportunities, and potentially creating new jobs in a Southwest Colorado region that has been ravaged by double-digit unemployment. Read more.
Since the outbreak in 1996, the bark beetle epidemic has severely damaged forests in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. In total it has destroyed or damaged over 41 million acres of pine forests, including 2.9 million acres in Colorado. The epidemic has affected many miles of roads, paths and trails, created a severe fire hazard, and put essential water supplies at risk.
Healthy forests are important to the livelihood of millions of people in the West and critical to economic recovery. The forests are a source of a reliable water supply, tourism, energy generation, and recreation for the region. Swift action is essential in the face of threats to public safety and critical infrastructure. People’s lives and livelihoods are at risk because of the damage that has been inflicted by the bark beetle. We have been losing the fight in the Rocky Mountain Region, and we bear the scars in our district. We must do more actively manage our public lands to stop the epidemic. Going forward it’s critical that our delegation works together to ensure that the Healthy Forest Act is fully implemented and that there is sufficient access to our forests and resources available for proper management.
After more than a year of committee work, meetings with the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and other agencies, and Congressional hearings on forest management, including a hearing that took place earlier this year in Montrose, Colorado, I was joined by my Colorado colleagues Reps. Cory Gardner, Doug Lamborn and Mike Coffman as well as Reps. Greg Walden (R-OR) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ), in introducing a piece of legislation to address forest health in the most comprehensive way possible.
The Healthy Forest Management and Wildfire Reduction Act of 2012 (H.R.6089) increases state control over forest management decisions in high-risk areas on National Forest Service lands and lands under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management. It empowers governors, like Colorado’s John Hickenlooper, in consultation with county commissioners from affected counties as well as affected Indian tribes, to designate high-risk areas and develop emergency hazardous fuels reduction projects for those areas. By allowing states to play a larger role in addressing this emergency, we can more proactively manage our forests, prevent future destruction from wildfires, and promote a healthy natural environment.
The Healthy Forest Management and Wildfire Reduction Act has advanced through the House Natural Resources Committee and is awaiting a vote in the full House. Read more.
• Congressional Western Caucus—Dedicated to preserving the West’s dynamic and unique culture, and to finding innovative solutions that address the distinctive concerns facing western and rural communities.
• Natural Gas Caucus—Championing the use of clean, plentiful, domestic natural gas.
• Coal Caucus—Ensuring that the coal industry, and the thousands of jobs it supports, has a strong and unified voice in Congress.
• Rep. Scott Tipton at House Agriculture and Natural Resources Joint Hearing
• Natural Resources Committee Markup on Tipton Hydropower Bill
• Rep. Scott Tipton Examines the Impacts of Planned Federal Hijacking of State Water Rights
• Rep. Scott Tipton Tours Oil Rig, Discusses the Need for an All of the Above Energy Platform
• CBS: Tipton Leads Energy Regulation Field Hearing in Grand Junction
• NBC: Tipton Leads Field Hearing in Grand Junction
• KJCT Channel 8 Interview with Scott Tipton on Oil Shale Hearing in Grand Junction
• Rep. Scott Tipton on KOAA: Gas Prices Still on the Rise
• Rep. Scott Tipton on KKTV News: Pain at the Pump
• Grand Junction Daily Sentinel: Keystone pipeline offers shovel-ready jobs, advancing energy security
• Politico Op-ed: Energy regulations hurt job creation, by Rep. Scott Tipton
• Denver Post Guest Op-ed: Energy in the West Key to Economic Recovery by Reps. Doug Lamborn and Scott Tipton
• Pueblo Chieftain Op-ed: Federal spending, regulation strangling American taxpayers by Rep. Scott Tipton
• Grand Junction Daily Sentinel Op-ed: Congress must curb Obama administration’s regulatory overkill, by Rep. Scott Tipton
For more information concerning my work and views on the issue of energy, please contact my Washington, DC office.