Vail Daily column: We’re not stuck with Tipton
July 6, 2016
Despite our deep divisions, there is something most Americans can agree on; according to Real Clear Politics, approximately three-quarters of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing.
This November we have the opportunity to clean house. I suggest we start with Rep. Scott Tipton. It is easy to forget that he represents us since we never see the guy. He lives in Cortez — more than 300 miles away, no wonder. He serves a comically gerrymandered district that, in addition to the western part of Eagle County, includes most of the Western Slope and reaches into the state to grab Pueblo for good measure.
Tipton is a Tea Party conservative who was an enthusiastic participant in what was arguably one of the most obstructionist Congresses in U.S. history. Along with his party, Tipton voted to more than 60 times to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act.
Tipton's priorities jeopardize the future of Eagle County's primary industries — tourism and recreation. Not only do our ski resorts need snow, but a lot of people downstream need the water from a robust snowpack. Global warming threatens both. Tipton concedes that the earth may be warming, but refuses to acknowledge human activity may be the cause. This conflicts with most of the scientific community. According to NASA, the use of fossil fuels such as oil and coal have "raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 280 parts per million to 400 parts per million in the last 150 years." Such a dramatic increase in a geologically short period of time hardly seems natural. According to NASA, it probably isn't. Today the level of CO2 in earth's atmosphere is the highest in 400,000 years. Furthermore, more than 1,000 "independent scientific experts from countries all over the world under the auspices of the United Nations concluded there's a more than 90 percent probability that human activities over the past 50 years have warmed our planet."
If Tipton remains unconvinced by scientific research by NASA, where is he getting his information? If you follow the money you find that one of Tipton's top campaign contributors is Koch Industries. Not surprisingly, Tipton's voting record shows a striking deference to the fossil fuel industry. He voted to bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. He voted to keep the royalty payments oil and gas companies pay to drill on federal lands low — thereby subsidizing the polluting fuels industries while at the same time voting to eliminate federal subsidies for clean, renewable energy. According to the League of Conservation Voters, Tipton issued 34 anti-environmental votes in 2015.
In addition to Tipton's anti-science views, he represents an outdated, intolerant mindset at odds with most Americans. Tipton opposes same-sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana. According to Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY's List, Tipton voted five times to defund Planned Parenthood and he voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act.
My antipathy towards Tipton is personal. In 2009, when he served in the Colorado legislature, Tipton joined every single Republican in the Colorado House in rejecting a call for insurance coverage of autism treatments. The bill passed anyway and was signed into law by Gov. Bill Ritter. I have a son on the autism spectrum. He is doing great, no thanks to Tipton.
But what truly goes beyond the pale is Tipton's support for the Republican Presidential nominee, Donald Trump. What Trump believes is irrelevant. What is irrefutable is that he has employed racism, sexism, anti-Semitism and garden-variety bigotry to fuel his presidential bid. Women, Jews, Muslims and Mexicans can all speak up for themselves. But many in the disabled community are not able to speak for themselves. Who will speak up for them against a candidate who openly mocked a disabled reporter to the cheers from the audience? I will call that out for the despicable act that it was. Moreover, I will denounce people like Tipton willing to minimize or downplay Trump's dog-whistling.
Eagle County is not stuck with Tipton. This November we have a choice. Gail Schwartz will be challenging Tipton for the 3rd Congressional District seat. Schwartz worked for years designing ski resorts, so she knows our industry. Furthermore, as a former Colorado state senator who lives in Crested Butte, she is already familiar with balancing the needs of the diverse industries of western Colorado, such as ranching, energy production and recreation. Let's dump the guy who is comfortable trashing our environment and elect a candidate with a record of voting to protect where we live and how we make a living.
Claire Noble can be found online at clairenoble.org and "Claire Noble Writer" on Facebook.