U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton has been a relatively low-profile member of a House of Representatives known recently for its collective bravado and bluster. Since his election in 2010, Tipton has been attuned to the nation’s economic challenges and has focused his legislative agenda accordingly. In so doing, he has carried measures that aim to ease regulatory burdens on various industries. The most successful of those have been crafted and carried with bipartisan support.
His measure streamlining the permitting process for small hydropower projects passed both chambers of Congress and was signed into law – a rarity for any measure in today’s political climate. He also has Democratic partners in his effort to secure ski areas’ water rights and has worked broadly in supporting pilot projects in Pagosa Springs and Gypsum to harvest dead trees for energy.
These measures and others that have gathered less momentum have been informed by Tipton’s wariness of regulations – a mindset that has spurred him to push back on federal agencies attempting to broaden their reach. He has criticized the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule to extend the reach of the Clean Water Act, an effort Tipton calls “the biggest water grab in history.” He has resisted an endangered species listing for sage grouse and asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be more specific about its goals for restoring the birds’ population. At times, Tipton’s anti-regulation mindset goes too far, but his questions are relevant and worthy of consideration.
Beyond these efforts, Tipton has also worked across the aisle – as well as with his colleagues in the Senate – to advance measures protecting beloved natural lands in Southwest Colorado. He was an advocate and supporter of designating Chimney Rock a national monument and welcomed President Barack Obama’s assigning the site that status after congressional action proved elusive. He is carrying the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act – a measure crafted with broad bipartisan support from a spectrum of stakeholders.
If he is re-elected, Tipton should revisit the measure’s original version that reflects the desires of local stakeholders; the measure currently in the House was modified at the insistence of House committee leaders both unfriendly to lands protection and not at all involved in the drafting process. Staying connected to his district by championing its homegrown legislation, as well as visiting often, will be critical to Tipton’s success in the coming term.
Tipton’s opponent, Abel Tapia, is a retired civil engineer, a former state representative and state senator who was well-respected during his tenure from 1999-2010. The Pueblo Democrat recognizes the need to build coalitions across party lines and is an advocate for improved infrastructure of all kinds, education and providing protections for vulnerable populations.
His ideas are good, but his knowledge of the Western Slope and its issues is limited. Tipton, as a Cortez native, is better-positioned to represent the full range of the Third Congressional District. Re-elect Scott Tipton.