Due to mechanical problems with the state plane, coupled with today's weather, Gov. Ritter was unable to get to the Western Slope today.
He had been scheduled to deliver a luncheon speech at Club 20's Annual Spring Meeting, tour Phillips Machinery in Delta, and attend the Mesa County Democratic Party's Annual Spring Fling Dinner.
Below is the text of Gov. Ritter's remarks as prepared for Club 20. The remarks focus on the importance of Western Slope communities and businesses, and how the Western Slope fits into Gov. Ritter's statewide economic strategy for positioning
Gov. Ritter also has directed his administration, particularly the Department of Natural Resources and the Office of Economic Development, to pursue opportunities that will help companies develop
Gov. Ritter's Remarks as Prepared for Club 20's Annual Spring Meeting
April 4, 2009 //
Thank you, Rikki, for that introduction. Thank you as well to Reeves Brown for continuing to lead Club 20 and for serving on our new Recovery Act accountability and oversight board.
Gatherings like this are important, especially in difficult economic times, so that we can share ideas, craft effective policies, and work together to lead the Western Slope and all of
These are clearly tough economic times everywhere. Nearly every economic sector, industry, business and family is struggling.
At the state level, we are being forced to make some very difficult choices to cut $1.5 billion from the budget – choices I wish we didn't have to make. Without a doubt, tough times still lie ahead.
But I know
Just look at our advantages:
We've become a national and worldwide leader with our New Energy Economy. And let me be clear –
We have one of the best-educated workforces in the country.
Our universities and colleges are leading the way in developing careers in knowledge-based industries of the future like energy and aerospace and bioscience and technology.
We have one of the best tourism industries in the country because of the natural beauty and abundant wildlife right here on the Western Slope.
As I said a minute ago, we have abundant reserves of long-term, reliable natural gas right here on the Western Slope. If we develop these reserves in a sustainable way, we will help our country achieve energy security, and we'll help create sustainable economies and communities here on the Western Slope.
The West Slope will be a vital part of how our state moves ahead. Yes, the Western Slope and all of
I understand this from a very personal level. There were times when my dad, who was a construction worker and a farmer, couldn't find work and couldn't make any money. There were times when my mom put dinner on the table using food stamps.
I know what it's like. But even in these difficult times, we are still seeing bright spots and opportunities – because we put a strategy in place and we have a plan for coming out of this downturn.
The last time I was in
Later this afternoon I'm going to Delta to tour the new Phillips Machinery facility, where they make and repair mining tools and equipment.
And of course the oil-and-gas industry will continue to be one of the leading West Slope and
Last month, Williams Energy drilled its 3,000th well in
And this year, the new rules adopted by the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission, developed with valuable input from many of you in this room, will help continue to create a reliable economic foundation for the entire Western Slope.
I believe these rules will allow the industry to grow and move forward in a sustainable, 21st century way that is compatible with other West Slope sectors like tourism and recreation. I believe these rules strike the right balance, a balance that recognizes the importance of a healthy industry and the importance of healthy communities, water supplies and wildlife.
Responsible and forward-thinking companies – big companies like Encana and Williams and smaller operators like Gunnison Energy – have already been true leaders in a best-practices approach to drilling and exploration. They embody the spirit of a sustainable
I know that these tough economic times have not spared any industry, including oil and gas. We all know there are bigger forces at work on the industry, forces like global commodity prices, pipeline capacity and a tight credit market. These forces are impacting rig counts all across the country.
Over the last seven months, rigs are down 64 percent in
Recognizing all of this, I have directed my administration to move swiftly and strongly to help develop
We've asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to speed up approval of the Ruby Pipeline Project. We're working on legislation that would extend a hybrid vehicle tax credit to compressed natural gas cars and trucks. We're talking to the BLM about methane-capture opportunities for the proposed Red Cliff mine – a mine that could generate 250 new jobs.
We're talking with Xcel Energy about using the Cameo power plant as a pilot project for a 1 megawatt coal and concentrated solar facility.
We're talking to a natural-gas company called Clean Energy about filing a joint application with the Department of Energy for a $12.5 million grant. The grant would help build six natural-gas fueling stations around the state – including one in
I'm optimistic about the future of the energy industry, the future of the Western Slope and the future of
We're going to see more than $7 billion flow to
· $100 million for highway, transit and airport projects – including the airport in
· $2 million for West Slope workforce development, youth and summer jobs programs, and job-training and re-training programs.
· $11.5 million for higher-ed institutions on the Western Slope.
A few weeks ago I signed the FASTER transportation bill into law. This legislation will help us create thousands of jobs and fix unsafe roads and bridges, including 20 structurally deficient bridges on the Western Slope. Thank you to Sen. Dan Gibbs and Transportation Commissioner Doug Aden for working so hard on this.
We also are moving forward with some of my office's most important legislative proposals, specifically economic-development bills that will:
· Provide incentives for companies to create new jobs;
· Give small businesses direct access to credit and capital;
· Let community colleges partner with businesses and industry sectors for job-training programs.
These are all part of our strategy for leading
Working together, we can create sustainable jobs and sustainable communities so that
Thank you so much for inviting me to be here today.