Salazar outlines plans for Garfield County |

Salazar outlines plans for Garfield County

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar has plans to continue to push for legislation and funding that will affect Garfield County.

Those plans call for pushing for funding to connect Colorado Highway 13 to Interstate 70 and measures to balance oil and gas development on the Western Slope, according to his regional plan for the area.

Salazar will discuss some of the priorities he has for the Western Slope during a town hall meeting in Grand Junction Tuesday. He will also solicit ideas to help get the American economy back on track, according to a statement from his office.

The meeting will be held in the public meeting room at the Mesa County Courthouse Annex, 544 Rood Ave. in Grand Junction.

“I have always believed that no matter how small a town or how big a county, every community in Colorado deserves a voice in the United States Senate,” Salazar said in a prepared statement. “We are one Colorado, yet each region of our state has its own needs and its own priorities.

“The regional plans that I have assembled over the last four years with the input of residents and leaders in all 64 counties are a Colorado agenda that I work every day in the U.S. Senate to fulfill.”

Salazar plans to continue to push for legislation that calls for 80 percent of the tens of millions of dollars in the Anvil Points Oil Shale Trust fund to be directed to Garfield and Rio Blanco counties. Mesa and Moffatt would each receive 10 percent of that money under the legislation Salazar and other legislators introduced last year.

Salazar’s plans also call for passing legislation to reinstate the traditional 50-50 formula for splitting federal mineral revenues between the federal government and the states. Currently, that revenue sharing formula returns 51 percent of revenues generated from federal leases to the federal government and 49 percent to the states.

Salazar also wants to lay out a long-term plan to keep Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) in place, said Michael Amodeo, a spokesman for Salazar.

PILT is a Department of the Interior program that pays back local governments for the income they lose on untaxed federal lands in their jurisdictions. Garfield County received about $1.73 million in PILT payments from the federal government this year.

Amodeo added that Salazar looks to exercise proper oversight over any potential oil and gas development on the Roan Plateau. The Bureau of Land Management issued drilling leases for the area in September.

But in October, U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger declined to rule on a proposed temporary injunction in a lawsuit several environmental groups have filed to block drilling on the Roan Plateau. That’s because both sides of the litigation have agreed that drilling in the area won’t begin until June, which will give Krieger enough time to rule on the lawsuit.

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