Anita Merrigan: Endangered species are not impediments to economic progress |

Anita Merrigan: Endangered species are not impediments to economic progress

Representative Scott Tipton’s opinion column, published on June 14 in the Steamboat Pilot & Today, attempts to make the case for opening Colorado’s Western Slope to increased energy extraction and the Jordan Cove/Pacific Connector Pipeline. The increased resource extraction and the pipeline construction would be done in the name of economic development on the Western Slope and to reduce “the astonishing levels of pollution” in Asian markets.

Who wouldn’t want the nice people of the Western Slope to be more prosperous or help Asians breathe easier? The question is, at what cost?

Mr. Tipton states that he values Colorado’s natural beauty and remains committed to protecting the land. He wants the project to move forward in an “environmentally sound way” without defining it. One thing notably absent from Mr. Tipton’s argument on behalf of his extraction and pipeline stakeholders is any mention of The Endangered Species Act, a Republican promulgated law as I like to remind the electorate.

Our nonhuman Colorado residents such as the sage grouse would surely be affected in a negative way by both increased energy extraction activity and the construction and ongoing presence and maintenance of a pipeline. It seems from his words that he is committed to protecting the beauty of the land but not its nonhuman Colorado citizens … citizens without a voice.

Mr. Tipton, an Episcopal church follower according to, must surely be a Pro Life advocate. How can a Pro Life advocate avoid advocating for life and claim any kind of moral integrity? Nonhuman species have a right to life and sage grouse, as well as many other northwestern Colorado species, have made their living in northwestern Colorado for at least hundreds of thousands of years and have been granted a right to do so by the American people through The Endangered Species Act.

Republicans now rue the day they passed The Endangered Species Act. In their view, as reflected by many of the bills being proposed by Republicans of late, it poses impediments to economic “progress.”

Humans would not and could not exist without nonhuman plant and animal species, and it is time for humans to respect them as the necessities to our health and welfare that they are, not as impediments to economic progress. When we humans think that a few species can be sacrificed in order to boost the bottom line it is a slippery slope and a sad statement about our collective morality and the degree of respect we give to life itself.

Representative Tipton’s words seem effusive about the protection of our public lands and environmentally sound practices as he mentions these issues several times. His voting record, however, demonstrates that he likely has no intention of delivering anything but commercial development, particularly for the energy extraction industry.

One peek at Representative Tipton’s National Environmental Scorecard by the League of Conservation Voters ( — lifetime score of 6 percent, 2017 score of 6 percent) reveals his unflinching support of the energy extraction industry. His commitment to the preservation of public lands must be questioned as he voted in January 2017 to make it easier to sell them. Additionally, he is a global-warming, carbon-pollution denier, voted for drilling in the Arctic and votes against the protection of our natural resources, and for their exploitation, at nearly every possible opportunity.

If Scott Tipton has his way, there would be some mostly temporary economic activity and jobs associated with building out the fracking infrastructure and the pipeline, and a few of his constituents (the principals, the ones he truly represents) would become fabulously wealthy while the rest of us lose our public lands, and some, like the sage grouse, would lose their very existence.

We have to think long and hard about the true cost of moving these energy extraction and pipeline projects forward. Are we willing to sell out our land, our nonhuman citizens and our souls for them?

Anita Merrigan

Steamboat Springs

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