Rep. Rippy stands firm on water voting record | PostIndependent.com
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Rep. Rippy stands firm on water voting record

State Rep. Gregg Rippy says his stance on a water issue is being misrepresented by an environmental group that endorsed his opponent this week.Clean Water Action is backing Rick Davis, a Glenwood Springs Democrat, in his House District 61 race against Rippy, a Republican also from Glenwood Springs.In announcing the endorsement, Clean Water Action director Carmi McLean said Rippy voted against recreational flow rights for streams.Responded Rippy, “I would very much disagree that I voted against them. I voted for them.”At issue is a 2001 bill introduced after courts upheld recreational instream channel diversions for kayak courses in Golden and Fort Collins.Rippy said the bill, which he supported, was aimed at adjusting state water law to reflect the court decisions.”I don’t know how you could say I voted against those flows, because that was the bill that created them,” he said.Clean Water Action’s endorsement decision was based on legislator ratings created by Colorado Conservation Voters. Tony Massaro, executive director of that group, said the problem with the bill is it establishes a process that makes recreational water rights harder to obtain than other water rights, and it limits who can hold those rights.The law prohibits private groups or individuals, and the federal government, from holding recreational rights. For example, Massaro said, a kayak club would be prohibited from obtaining recreational water rights.Rippy said lawmakers were especially concerned about preventing the federal government from obtaining recreational water rights.”We’re very protective of our state’s rights on water,” he said.Massaro said there was no need for lawmakers to pass such a bill after the courts ruled that the law provided for recreational rights.Rippy said those rights had never been recognized before. Absent legislation, litigation could have occurred every time such a right was asserted.He said he found it interesting to be criticized for supporting a bill that “leaves more water in the streams.”$10 billion boondoggleClean Water Action calls itself Colorado’s largest advocacy group, and says it has more than 1,700 members living in House District 61.”Rick Davis will be a breath of fresh air on environmental issues and truly represent the priorities of the district,” McLean said in announcing her endorsement.McLean was also especially critical of Rippy’s committee vote this year in favor of a $10 billion bond issue for water projects.”These dams would have sucked water from traditional and needed uses on the Western Slope such as agriculture and recreation,” she said.Rippy defended his vote, saying he thought the bill was worth debating on the House floor in such a bad drought year.After further scrutiny, he voted against it on the House floor because it failed to identify specific projects and proved to be unnecessary, since other funds for water were going unused.Davis believes Rippy made a mistake in not killing the bill in committee when he had the chance. The bill passed the House and was killed in a Senate committee.”I think he was extremely lucky,” Davis said. “He was one of 11 in committee, and he could have sank it.”Given the severity of the drought, Davis said, Front Range interests could very well have prevailed in getting the measure passed through the Legislature, at the expense of Western Slope water.”I think that was a roll of the dice, and I don’t think he should be doing that with our water,” Davis said.Rippy said he felt comfortable about his action because any projects funded under the measure would have required approval by the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The board’s Western Slope majority holds veto power over attempted water grabs by the Front Range.

Clean Water Action calls itself Colorado’s largest advocacy group, and says it has more than 1,700 members living in House District 61.”Rick Davis will be a breath of fresh air on environmental issues and truly represent the priorities of the district,” McLean said in announcing her endorsement.McLean was also especially critical of Rippy’s committee vote this year in favor of a $10 billion bond issue for water projects.”These dams would have sucked water from traditional and needed uses on the Western Slope such as agriculture and recreation,” she said.Rippy defended his vote, saying he thought the bill was worth debating on the House floor in such a bad drought year.After further scrutiny, he voted against it on the House floor because it failed to identify specific projects and proved to be unnecessary, since other funds for water were going unused.Davis believes Rippy made a mistake in not killing the bill in committee when he had the chance. The bill passed the House and was killed in a Senate committee.”I think he was extremely lucky,” Davis said. “He was one of 11 in committee, and he could have sank it.”Given the severity of the drought, Davis said, Front Range interests could very well have prevailed in getting the measure passed through the Legislature, at the expense of Western Slope water.”I think that was a roll of the dice, and I don’t think he should be doing that with our water,” Davis said.Rippy said he felt comfortable about his action because any projects funded under the measure would have required approval by the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The board’s Western Slope majority holds veto power over attempted water grabs by the Front Range.

Clean Water Action’s endorsement was also based on three other positions by Rippy:-His opposition to a bill that sought to address cleanup of Cherry Creek. Rippy said the issue involved a battle between two sanitation districts, and cleanup was taking place regardless under state health department supervision.”This was a turf battle between special districts that I didn’t think was appropriate to handle through legislation,” he said. “It had nothing to do with are we going to get Cherry Creek cleaned up.”Responded McClean: “Cleanup was not occurring at the level that it needed to be.” The new law requires more money to be spent on the cleanup, she said.-His support for a House nonbinding resolution critical of the U.S. Forest Service’s roadless area initiative. Rippy said he didn’t agree with all the roadless areas designated, and the agency sought public input on roadless areas providing maps showing where the areas were.-His opposition to a measure letting statutory towns, cities and counties exceed the 6.9 percent sales tax cap in order to fund open-space programs.Rippy said it wasn’t a matter of whether he supported open space. Instead, he was uncomfortable with creating exemptions for specific purposes.Said McLean, “He had his reasons for voting against it. We supported it. They all think that their reasons for voting for or against something are valid.”For his part, Rippy is frustrated by the spin that some groups put on lawmakers’ votes. He also contends that some environmental groups “have a very hard time endorsing a Republican.”According to the Colorado Conservation Voters scorecard for the 2002 regular session, Rippy recorded seven pro-environment votes, compared to five anti-environment votes, a 58 percent score.Davis said there are clear distinctions between him and Rippy on water issues, and Rippy wasn’t talking about water until Davis started raising the issues in his campaign.”Gregg came around, so I feel that we accomplished an awful lot of our goal by bringing the issues to the forefront,” Davis said.He believes his endorsement by Clean Water Action is deserved.”None of those endorsements are given away frivolously – not at all,” Davis said.


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