All three gubernatorial hopefuls oppose energy tax redistribution
GRAND JUNCTION – Colorado’s three candidates for governor all spoke out Saturday against efforts to divert energy severance tax revenues from the counties where those resources are being developed.Speaking at a candidates forum sponsored by the Club 20 Western Slope political coalition, Republicans Marc Holtzman and Bob Beauprez and Democrat Bill Ritter said those revenues are intended to help pay for impacts associated with energy development.”We need to stay to the promise. Promises made need to be promises kept,” Beauprez said.Holtzman, a Carbondale resident, said severance taxes are expected to produce a $200 million windfall this year. Such funds should be used to mitigate environmental damages resulting from energy development and help the tourism industry, he said.”I understand these problems. I see them in my backyard in the Roaring Fork Valley,” he said.Ritter said it’s important to not only return revenues to impacted places, but make sure those impacts are fully measured.Jim Evans, former executive director of Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado, asked the candidates about their stances on the issue.Before leaving AGNC late last year, he helped to rally energy-producing areas in opposition to efforts to redirect severance tax efforts from places such as natural-gas-rich Garfield County to other parts of the state.Now the chairman of Club 20’s oil shale task force, Evans liked what he heard from the candidates Saturday.”All I needed was a ‘yes, yes, yes.’ We got that,” he said.He said he did hear some differences among the three about what constitutes an energy development impact, and it will be important to keep the issue before whoever is elected to make sure those impacts are addressed. He said Club 20 also will be around to remind the state’s next governor about the position he laid out Saturday regarding severance taxes, in case he is tempted to tap those funds for other uses.But with numerous proposals now being made to reallocate those tax revenues, the candidates “made it clear they aren’t supporting any of those. I think that’s all we could ask,” Evans said.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516 firstname.lastname@example.org
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