CWF puzzled Rep. Tipton opposed water study amendment to PIONEERS ACT

February 13, 2012

 CWF has raised concerns in a radio ad running February 13-26  that Rep. Scott Tipton recently voted in opposition to a common sense study of the potential impacts of oil shale development on Colorado's water supplies and habitat.    Representative Tipton’s “no” vote was made earlier this month in a Congressional committee markup of U.S. Representative Doug Lamborn’s controversial PIONEERS Act (H.R. 3408), which would fast track speculative commercial leasing of public lands in Colorado (Piceance Basin), Utah, and Wyoming despite lack of technological feasibility or water use impacts study.  To launch into such leasing would provide a private benefit to companies on the asset side of their balance sheets but deliver no public benefit for these public lands. The amendment opposed by Rep. Tipton would have included language in the bill requiring USGS to complete a study of the effects of oil shale development on water resources before allowing commercial development.  CWF did appreciate a separate amendment that Rep. Tipton successfully introduced and his most welcome comments in the media expressing his concern for addressing local community, water and wildlife impacts.

 Under News above is a link to  the BLM's draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statememt.  CWF views the BLM draft preferred alternative 2(b) as reasonable because it focuses on obtaining results from the RD&D (Research, Demonstration & Development) leases - technological feasibility and water use estimates - before proceeding with additional leasing of federal public lands in the Piceance Basin for hoped future commercial development of oil shale.   

Below are the text of the CWF radio ad and CWF's letter of February 10 to Rep. Tipton.

Here is the text of the CWF radio ad:

Sound: Water dripping - drip drip drip drip drip drip drip

Voice: That's the sound of a diminishing water supply as the last drops trickle out. 

Sound: Finger tapping on desk - tap tap tap tap

Voice: That's the sound of impatience, as somebody taps a desk.

Sound: Water dripping and finger tapping 

Voice: Here's a new sound - it describes the impatience many Colorado sportsmen feel about our fragile water situation and the risks Congressman Scott Tipton is taking with it. Tipton voted to oppose a study to investigate the dramatic impact oil shale development could have on our limited water supply - as well as our public lands and streams where we hunt and fish.  

Sound: Water dripping and finger tapping

Voice: We're puzzled. Why would a sportsman like Scott Tipton vote to oppose a study on the effects commercial oil shale development could have on our water and wildlife habitat - right at a time when our water managers are worried about running dry?

Sound: Water dripping and finger tapping.

Voice:  We're waiting for an answer, too.

Sound: Water dripping and finger tapping.

Voice: Paid for by Colorado Wildlife Federation. 


CWF Letter to Rep. Tipton: February 10, 2012


The Honorable Scott Tipton                                                             

U.S. House of Representatives

218 Cannon HOB

Washington, D.C. 20515


 Dear Representative Tipton:


As Colorado’s oldest wildlife conservation organization, the Colorado Wildlife Federation (CWF) thanks you for your willingness to meet with us and other groups and Western Slope government officials to discuss the impacts of energy development.

As a fellow avid sportsman, we know you understand well the importance of Colorado’s natural resources, streams, and wildlife resource and the hunting and fishing heritage that help define our state.

 We also appreciate that you and Congressman Doug Lamborn joined us on a conference call this week amid a hectic Committee schedule. That willingness to meet with us and discuss important issues means a great deal to our members.

 The PIONEERS Act recently introduced by Rep. Lamborn was a primary topic of this week’s call. CWF understands the importance of energy development to the economy of our state and region. We support responsible energy development.

As hunters, anglers and wildlife watchers, we also understand the importance of healthy wildlife populations and the habitats they need to survive. Wildlife-based recreation contributes more than $3 billion annually to our state’s economy. This natural resource-based economy was particularly important for Western Colorado after Exxon abandoned its oil shale project in May 1982. Many of our members vividly recall “Black Sunday,” and some personally suffered from the economic downturn that occurred.

Perhaps most important, we want to emphasize that wildlife recreation will only increase in significance for our state, providing we serve as sound stewards for our land and water and our hunting and fishing traditions.

 Because of this, CWF strongly believes that oil shale development needs to be considered in the larger context of the potential impacts commercial production would have on our communities, water quality and quantity in West Slope streams, and our wildlife resources and habitats.  A thorough assessment of what commercial development also would mean for the critical winter habitat for mule deer, elk and other native species in Rio Blanco and Garfield counties is needed.

 We appreciate the Amendment to the PIONEERS Act you successfully introduced and your most welcome comments in the media expressing your concern for addressing local community, water and wildlife impacts.   These actions show the public that you recognize the negative impacts a boom/bust cycle of development can have to our economy, natural resources and Western Slope communities.

CWF believes additional steps are needed to ensure that any potential oil shale development occurs only after there has been careful consideration of these impacts.

We are puzzled by your vote on February 1 in Committee to oppose an amendment to the PIONEERS Act that would require the USGS water resources study to be completed before starting commercial oil shale leasing on federal public lands in Colorado’s Piceance Basin.  Perhaps you would reconsider and offer an amendment, or vote no on the PIONEERS Act, part of a larger transportation bill being considered in the House of Representatives, until water and local impacts can be studied thoroughly.

Again, we thank you for your demonstrated willingness to meet with CWF and other groups and Western Slope government officials. This spirit of collaboration and openness is in the best tradition of representative government.  We really appreciate working with you to protect and enhance Colorado’s great public lands, wildlife, outdoor recreation and its contribution to local economics.  But we remain concerned about your vote against a study to determine impacts to water.

We look forward to working with you in the future on energy development and other key issues that will define our state for decades to come.



Suzanne O’Neill

Executive Director

Colorado Wildlife Federation



Senator Mark Udall

Senator Michael Bennet



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