Rankin proposes a state analysis of federal land decisions | PostIndependent.com

Rankin proposes a state analysis of federal land decisions

Heather McGregor
Post Independent Editor
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Bob Rankin

CARBONDALE, Colorado – State legislative candidate Bob Rankin is proposing that state government analyze the economic impacts of public lands decisions proposed by federal agencies.

Rankin, a Carbondale Republican, says a state agency should be assigned to study the potential revenues and costs of proposed federal land management decisions, and write up the findings in reports for local governments and communities.

“Delaying or denying ski resort expansions, limiting new mountain biking trail development, withdrawing grazing, energy and outfitting permits, and making more lands off-limits has a real dollar cost to western Colorado,” Rankin said in a press release. “My intent is to make sure West Slope voters have tools to measure what federal agencies take out of their pockets.”

Rankin noted that the analysis should be done within the state’s current budget.

“We can’t hold the federal bureaucracy more accountable by growing the state’s. Let’s take a close look at Colorado’s already massive state agencies and get this done with existing resources,” Rankin said.

In a telephone interview, he suggested that the task could be carried out by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

Rankin’s opponents in the open race for the House District 57 seat, Democrat Jo Ann Baxter of Craig and Libertarian Dan Enright of Silt, say Rankin is missing the mark.

In an email response, Baxter said, “Given all the challenges we face with funding our state government and local needs, from education to roads and bridges to basic health services, it is disconcerting to see my opponent focusing on federal regulations that he has no power to change.

“Colorado has some of the lowest education funding for public schools in the nation. We need to address that need before we spend our limited personnel and financial resources on trying to show up the federal government,” she added.

Enright chided Rankin for taking on the federal government when its “right to own and manage these lands is clearly spelled out in the U.S. Constitution.”

He also applauded Rankin’s move to push back on federal control, and suggested that Rankin “inform the public that a large portion of our Western Slope natural gas is sold to the Chinese.”

Enright also said Rankin should “let the people know that the reason their energy prices are so high is not lack of oil or gas, but because of the free-fall in the value of the American dollar.”

Rankin, however, said he is aiming for a “pure economic analysis” of federal public lands policies.

As he has campaigned through House District 57, which takes in all of Garfield, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties, he said he is repeatedly hearing people talk about the impacts of federal public lands decisions on their livelihood or their recreation.

“Here I am trying to get elected to the state Legislature. What can I do? Seventy percent of the land in District 57 is public land,” he said.

As his conversations evolved, he concluded that the state government could at least analyze the impacts.

“For example, there’s our school trust lands,” he said. “What if the feds restrict grazing or gas development on those lands? That cuts funds from going to education.

“There are a lot of things that aren’t very obvious, happening every day,” Rankin said.

“There is no more important issue in this district than how we deal with public lands and the federal government, particularly in Rio Blanco and Moffat counties.”

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