Senate candidate: Protect Roan Plateau |

Senate candidate: Protect Roan Plateau

Jeremy Heiman
Special to the Post Independent

In a visit to Glenwood Springs Monday, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mike Miles said he opposes gas drilling on the Roan Plateau.

Miles, 47, is vying for the Democratic nomination to run against incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell. He is opposed for the nomination by four other candidates ” software development manager Elizabeth Baker, geophysicist and businessman Rutt Bridges, Denver attorney Brad Freedberg, and Larry E. Johnson, a Boulder teacher and attorney.

Miles answered policy questions Monday at a luncheon for a small group of local Democrats, and met with other local Democrats later in the day.

“Our tourism industry is heavily dependent on a clean environment,” Miles said.

He is firmly opposed to gas drilling on the top of the Roan Plateau in western Garfield County, and refers to the plateau as a national treasure.

Opening the plateau to gas development is included in a proposal from the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, on which Campbell sits. But Miles said a large percentage of the natural gas below the plateau can reportedly be accessed by diagonal drilling from beside the plateau.

“We should be creating jobs in renewable energy and alternative fuels,” Miles said. True energy independence won’t come from exploiting diminishing fossil resources, but rather from developing renewables quickly, he said.

“I’d dispute the claim that energy jobs contribute more to the economy than tourism jobs,” he said.

Keep jobs in the United States

To reduce the number of American jobs given to lower paid workers overseas, Miles proposed:

– Mandating a minimum corporate tax of 17 percent for companies that export jobs, and making the rate 14 percent for corporations that keep their jobs in the United States.

– Banning corporations that take work offshore from getting government contracts.

Miles said government assistance should instead be focused on small businesses because they aren’t outsourcing their work to the degree that large corporations are.

Many small businesses are struggling with the costs of doing business in the current economic climate.

“Small businesses are getting killed,” Miles said. “We need to provide help with health care.” He also suggested capital assistance to small businesses to promote growth.

Easier to rebuild

Iraq with partners

Asked to comment on the situation in Iraq, Miles said, “I don’t think we can just pull out.”

He said he had opposed going to war without the full participation of NATO and the United Nations, and he said rebuilding Iraq would be much easier with more partners.

“We wouldn’t have had to spend $87 billion if other nations were involved,” he said.

He also attacked the Bush administration for granting giant Iraq contracts to Halliburton without allowing other contractors to bid.

“The conflicts of interest in this administration are greater than any before,” he said.

Washington, D.C.,

tuned to big corporations

Miles criticized the way legislation is now approached in Washington, D.C.

Despite an outcry from citizens, he said, bills are being passed and signed that benefit only corporations and the rich.

Overtime pay was hotly debated after President Bush proposed doing away with it last year. But the Omnibus Budget Bill, which passed quietly in January, eliminated overtime pay for 8 million wage earners, he said.

And, though hundreds of thousands of e-mails signified public disapproval of a Federal Communications Commission proposal to increase the number of media outlets a single owner could hold in any market, the same omnibus bill quietly raised the limit from 35 percent of outlets to 39 percent.

More students need

opportunities to succeed

Miles, an educator himself, also spoke out on the Bush administration’s education program.

“‘No Child Left Behind’ needs to be left behind,” he said. He said the program is based on a false premise ” that a school has complete control over the academic performance of a child. He said the legislation, for example, doesn’t take into account whether a school has a large percentage of non-English-speaking students.

An issue high on Miles’ list is opportunity. Students graduating from Colorado’s schools too often can’t get jobs, he said, and health insurance too often is either not available or not affordable.

Miles, who grew up in a poor family, received a stellar education and had a distinguished career in foreign service.

Miles holds degrees in engineering from West Point, in Slavic languages from the University of California, Berkeley, and in international affairs from Columbia University.

In the late 1980s, he worked in the U.S. State Department advising the Secretary of State on such issues as German reunification, chemical weapons, and NATO. He became a foreign service officer, stationed first in Warsaw and later in Moscow, where he was special assistant to the U.S. ambassador to Russia throughout the events around the end of the Cold War.

He continued his commitment to public service by becoming first a teacher, then a school principal. He is currently an assistant superintendent of schools in Colorado Springs.

Contact Jeremy Heiman: 945-8515, ext. 534

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