Sen. Mark Udall passed through downtown Granby and grabbed a cup of coffee at the Midtown Café while campaigning for re-election.
Udall and his entourage arrived around 3:30 p.m. on Monday and were greeted by supporters at the café.
“This is about choices,” Udall told supporters, “when it comes to the future, what the quality of life in Grand County is going to be.”
During his seemingly impromptu speech, Udall touted his record in securing $700 million for flood recovery efforts on the Front Range and taking action against the pine beetle epidemic, which has had a disproportionate effect on Grand County.
Udall also took the opportunity to attack his opponent, Rep. Cory Gardner, for voting in favor of the government shutdown while Colorado “needed all hands on deck” following catastrophic flooding last year.
The senator spoke briefly about health care, saying that Grand County needed a health care system that doesn’t discriminate against women or those with pre-existing conditions.
Addressing concerns with the Affordable Care Act, Udall said that he would work to improve the law, though he did cite successes in getting more people enrolled in health insurance through Colorado’s insurance exchange.
“There’s more to do to make the law work,” Udall said.
The reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank is set to expire on Sept. 30, which Udall said was one of his priorities. Some conservative Republicans have expressed their desire to see the bank close.
“It would really disadvantage a lot of good Colorado companies that export,” Udall said of the bank’s potential closing.
Local water issues, energy
Udall took time to address local water concerns during his stop on Monday, saying that Grand County should have more say in water negotiations regarding diversions from local rivers.
“The mountains would not be what they are without the water that gives them life,” Udall said, adding that he had “held Denver Water’s feet to the fire” during water negotiations.
When it comes to energy development in Colorado, Udall called himself a “best of the above” kind of guy.
Udall addressed accusations of being late to the fracking debate, saying he had articulated his views that a statewide ban on fracking “doesn’t make sense” from the beginning, though he said that the natural value of some areas precludes the value of additional oil and gas exploration.
He pointed toward Colorado’s wind energy industry as an example of what’s going right with energy development in the state and said he was dedicated to meeting climate change “head on.”
Closer to home, Udall also said he is committed to reopening Rollins Pass, which he noted was part of the legislation creating the James Peak Protection Area. The top of the road has been closed because of Boulder County’s concerns about liability through the Needle’s Eye Tunnel and because of environmental concerns.
Udall suggested more damage is occurring to the area now than when the road was open because of widespread “overland use” by visitors.
Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.
“There’s more to do to make the law work.”
Sen. Mark Udall
Speaking about the Affordable Care Act