Last updated 7:42AM ET
December 16, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
Iraq, Desert Rock Highlight Senator Salazar Visit
(2007-08-07)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: Colorado U.S. Senator Ken Salazar got an earful Monday, about issues facing Southwest Colorado, including Desert Rock.
Salazar began a series of trips across the state during the congressional recess, with a morning stop in Cortez.
He then made a midday visit to Durango, attended by about 2-dozen elected officials and others from La Plata, Archuleta, San Juan and San Miguel counties.
KSUT's Victor Locke Reports:

SALAZAR: I WANTED TO COME HERE BECAUSE EVEN THOUGH I KNOW I'LL BE BACK IN DURANGO AND CORTEZ AND THE SOUTHWESTERN PART OF THE STATE SEVERAL TIMES AGAIN, IT'S JUST AN OPPORTUNITY FOR ME TO CATCH UP WITH YOU ON SOME OF THE THINGS GOING ON IN WASHINGTON.
Salazar told those gathered while Foreign Policy and Iraq, Energy and Health care issues top the agenda of Washington lawmakers he knows there are many issues of local concern as well.
And for just over an hour, public officials told him what tops their minds.
Environmental, led by the proposed Desert Rock Power Plant in Northwest New Mexico, were foremost on that list.
Salazar says he has deep concerns about the plant which led him and his Congressman brother, late last week, to request an extension for public comment on the Desert Rocks draft environmental impact study.
SALAZAR: WHEN YOU ADD ANOTHER 15-HUNDRED MEGAWATTS OF COAL FIRED CAPACITY, YOU'RE GOING TO ADD ON TO THE AIR QUALITY PROBLEMS THAT WE ALREADY HAVE.
La Plata County Commissioner Wally White got a promise from Salazar, among other things, to also look into the proposed Hermosa Park land exchange north of Durango.
And Archuleta County Commissioner Bob Moomaw asked Salazar to intervene to stop new gas wells in the HD Mountains, within a mile and a half of the Fruitland Outcrop as proposed in a recent Forest Service Decision.
MOOMAW: ON THE RECORD OF DECISION THE FOREST SERVICE GRANTED LA PLATA COUNTY FREEDOM FROM DRILLING WITHIN THAT ONE AND A HALF MILES AND THEY TREATED ARCHULETA COUNTY DIFFERENTLY IN THAT THEY ALLOWED DRILLING WITHIN ONE AND A HALF MILES OF THE OUTCROPPING, AND ARCHULETA COUNTY FELT IT WASN'T WORTH THE RISK.
The Senator's response?
SALAZAR: LET ME DIG INTO THAT FURTHER, AND SEE WHETHER MAYBE WE CAN DO AN AMENDMENT TO THE RECORD OF DECISION, SEE IF WE CAN FORCE THE FOREST SERVICE TO DO SOME KIND OF AMENDMENT, LET ME SEE WHAT I CAN DO ON THAT.
With nearly three years in office now under his belt, Salazar says he's learning how to wield the power of a senator to accomplish his ends when necessary.
SALAZAR: WE'RE NOT GOING TO LET THE BLM OR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RUN ROUGHSHOD OVER THIS STATE, WE'RE GOING TO FIGHT IT.
On less weighty topics, several representatives from Silverton asked Salazar to help fund the purchase of the historic Avon Hotel, for the Mountain Studies Institute field office.
Koren Nydick is MSI's Director:
NYDICK: IT'S ONE WAY THAT HE CAN SUPPORT SILVERTON WHICH HAS REALLY BEEN SEVERELY IMPACTED BY MINING ENVIRONMENTALLY, BUT ALSO ECONOMICALLY IN THE SORT OF BOOM OR BUST CYCLE. SILVERTON AND SAN JUAN COUNTY SUPPORT US BECAUSE WE'RE BUILDING A NEW ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY INDUSTRY BASED ON SCIENCE AND EDUCATION AND IT HAS THE POTENTIAL TO HAVE A LARGE ECONOMIC IMPACT.
Salazar's response?
SALAZAR: IF I GET A REQUEST FROM THE TOWN OF SILVERTON OR SAN JUAN COUNTY THAT THIS IS YOUR PRIORITY, I CAN PUSH IT HIGHER ON MY LIST, OKAY?
Salazar says with tight government purse strings, MSI might have greater success with other funding sources.
He also fielded questions on affordable housing, police communications, Bayfield Sanitation Issues, bringing Denver TV to Durango, and more.
Salazar says he will soon be making a third trip to Iraq as he continues looking, with others, for ways to resolve the war.
He wrapped up his meeting saying it's important to work in a bipartisan manner on Iraq and other issues.
SALAZAR: IF THERE IS A PROBLEM THEY HAVE IN WASHINGTON DC, IT HAS AN EXTREME PARTISAN POISON THAT HANGS OVER THAT CITY. SOMETIMES IT'S MORE ABOUT POLITICS AND THE POWER OF POLITICAL VICTORY THAN IT IS ABOUT DEALING WITH THE ISSUES THAT FACE OUR COUNTRY.
From KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.
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