Pitkin County candidates drilled on drilling | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County candidates drilled on drilling

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

Janet Urquhart The Aspen Times

ASPEN – Pitkin County commissioner candidates Steve Child and John B. Young spent considerable time at Wednesday’s Squirm Night debate questioning each other’s environmental stances and explaining their views on gas drilling in the county.

Young reiterated his call for a one-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” a method of injecting fluid into the ground to release natural gas, while the county prepares to deal with the prospect of drilling.

“It’s a serious matter. I think our county commissioners have to get involved ASAP,” he said. “I don’t think we’re ready for it.

“This is not the time to be shy or bashful. This is on our doorstep,” he added.

Child said he’d consider a moratorium but advocated bolstering existing county regulations with regard to fracking.

“I’m really opposed to using any toxic chemicals and injecting them into the ground,” he said. “We don’t know the long-term consequences.”

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Drilling pressure on federal land, he maintained, is out of the county’s purview.

“It would not surprise me if there is some drilling in the next year,” Child said.

Young disagreed with Child’s assertion that the county might have no say in the matter, noting the impact thousands of daily truck trips would have on county roads.

Young pressed Child to explain his statements of support for the Thompson Divide Coalition, which wants to stop any drilling in the area outside Carbondale, and statements that suggest what Young termed a “tolerance” for gas drilling.

“I don’t see natural gas as the solution of the future,” Child responded, and he began explaining his desire for small hydropower projects.

Directed back to the question, Child said there are places where drilling could occur next to an existing road and reiterated that he wouldn’t make up his mind on a proposal before he’s heard it.

Child, in turn, asked Young what environmental groups he belongs to and asked about his noninvolvement in the Snowmass-Capitol Creek Caucus, in which Child is active. Both men are residents of Old Snowmass. He asked Young whether he would give caucus recommendations any weight.

Young cited membership in Trout Unlimited and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and commended the caucus for doing a good job. He said he devotes his time to the Basalt and Rural Fire Protection District board of directors.

“Absolutely the caucuses are part of our filtration system,” Young said.

On another issue, both candidates described examples of overly cumbersome county regulation. Child said he would take a citizen’s regulatory complaint to the county manager; Young suggested easing the path for certain small construction projects, citing a legal garage that cost a client $20,000 in studies.

Both candidates expressed support for the county Sheriff’s Office. Young said he met with Sheriff Joe DiSalvo during his campaign, while Child said he has had discussions with two deputies and two individuals who are no longer working for the Sheriff’s Office. Child said he hasn’t yet met DiSalvo.

Child promised to get a cellphone if elected.

The two men are vying for the District 4 county commissioner seat to be vacated by incumbent Jack Hatfield in the Nov. 6 election.

Wednesday’s televised debate took place in the GrassRoots Television studio in Aspen. Go to http://www.grassrootstv.org to watch Squirm Night via streaming video on the Web or to check the schedule for future rebroadcasts of the debate.

janet@aspentimes.com

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