Bennet tackles jobs creation, more at Carbondale town hall meeting

John Stroud
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE, Colorado – Job creation in Colorado and across the country will be more about helping the innovators find a niche in the economy, rather than business as usual in the American marketplace, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet emphasized during a town hall meeting in Carbondale Monday afternoon.

For instance, incentives for American companies to take the lead in renewable energy development would go a long way, rather than sitting on the sidelines and watching China take the lead, Bennet, D-Colo., said.

Creating some type of infrastructure bank where the public sector partners with private businesses to rebuild the nation’s deteriorating infrastructure could be another solution.

“I think that would be a huge job creator,” Bennet said before a crowd of more than 100 people gathered, appropriately enough, at The Gathering Center in Carbondale.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s something that will go over in Congress,” he admitted.

Bennet’s visit to Carbondale was part of West Slope tour this week focusing on jobs and energy development. After the Carbondale town meeting, he met with members of the West Slope Compressed Natural Gas Collaborative in Rifle (see related story, page 1).

Today’s and Wednesday’s itineraries included visits to West Star Aviation in Grand Junction and Gordon Composites in Montrose, followed by town hall meetings in Lake City, Crested Butte and Gunnison.

In Carbondale, Bennet fielded questions ranging from efforts to limit natural gas development in the Thompson Divide west of town to immigration reform, health care and military spending.

Bennet said he has been meeting with U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to craft legislation around the Thompson Divide issue. The local coalition seeks to put a halt on future oil and gas leases on federal lands in the area, and create a way to buy out willing lease holders.

“We do hope to come to a place where we can reach agreement,” Bennet said.

Bennet said the current immigration policies are not helping the economy, locally or nationally.

“We have to build a broad-based coalition to get a comprehensive immigration reform package on the table,” he said. “I don’t see that happening anytime soon.”

Bennet said military spending should be included in the debate about the national debt, spending and taxes.

“In our history, we have never cut taxes when we’ve been at war until the last two wars [Afghanistan and Iraq],” he said. “That is one of the reasons we are having these problems, is we haven’t come up with the resources necessary to pay for these wars.”

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