Rifle states its case in letter to Obama | PostIndependent.com

Rifle states its case in letter to Obama

Heidi Rice
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colorado ” With President-elect Barack Obama’s impending inauguration on Tuesday, city officials last week sent off letters to Obama’s transition team and other newly elected officials to inform them of issues facing the city of Rifle.

The letters were signed by Rifle Mayor Keith Lambert.

To the Obama transition team, the council introduced the city as a natural gas-rich area in the Piceance Basin and the oil shale-rich Roan Plateau. And although energy development has slowed in recent months due to the economy, there is still significant activity that affects both the community and its infrastructure.

“The number one priority for our city is to build a new water treatment facility to ensure our residents have adequate clean water flowing from their taps,” the letter reads. “Any federal assistance would be appreciated to lessen the burden of that cost on our residents, and its construction would mean additional jobs and economic expansion opportunities for our community.”

The letter goes on to say that along with the natural gas boom, an attempt by the prior administration to adopt rules to develop a commercial leasing program for oil shale was a concern to the city for the environmental, social and infrastructure impacts it might have.

“If the new administration does move to lease oil shale, we request that leasing be accompanied by a means for the federal government and companies engaged in oil shale development to provide direct financial assistance.”

The city also implored the new administration to reduce the amount of red-tape local governments need to go through in order to seek federal financial assistance.

In a letter to U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, who is expected to be named Secretary of the Interior, the city asks that he and the Obama administration continue to consider Rifle’s position as an area that is rich in energy and natural beauty.

“As you and the Obama administration consider decisions regarding our public lands that will greatly impact communities like ours, please do not make your decisions in a vacuum,” the letter says.

To Congressman John Salazar and U.S. Senator-elect Mark Udall, the council voiced its support for additional federal funding being provided to state and local governments to develop and build infrastructure projects and to make revenues available to local governments to provide services such as water, sewer, streets and community facilities.

The letter also pointed out that the city of Rifle was located in the heart of the energy-rich Piceance Basin and the oil shale-rich Roan Plateau and had a growing population base.

“We have seen fast-paced population growth and development in our community and region and have responded to it to the best of our financial and staffing abilities, but much still needs to be achieved,” the letter reads. “We request you consider the needs of our small city as we continue to cope with the nation’s economic slowdown, impacts of energy development and the nation’s continued demand for natural gas.”

Upon approving the letters, Lambert said he felt they conveyed the message of letting the new government officials know where the city stands and what issues were important to the community.

“We need to let them know that we’re here,” Lambert said. “We need to have a line of communication with these federal and state leaders.”

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