The morning starts with a prayer. Then, one after another, they take the pulpit: state Sen. Kent Lambert, state Reps. Bob Gardner, Larry Liston and Janak Joshi, House Majority Leader Amy Stephens.
But the Republican of the hour is U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn.
In this space at the Classical Academy, Lamborn is home. Stocked with conservatives, his Saturday morning "town hall meeting" feels more like a worship service, and Lamborn preaches the Republican virtues: small government, a strong military, the 10th Amendment, an unfettered business sector.
He talks up his co-sponsorship of a bill that would cut $2.5 trillion over 10 years, he says, by eliminating Amtrak subsidies, ethanol subsidies, "and my favorite, National Public Radio." He boasts over the House's vote to repeal "Obamacare."
But this morning, Lamborn also speaks at length about his new chairmanship of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, which has jurisdiction over energy on public lands like the Gulf of Mexico and Rocky Mountain West. While the Obama administration, he says, is in the thrall of extreme environmentalists, he will do all he can to increase the collection of fossil fuels on our public lands, "because that is good for jobs and good for the economy."
In particular, he talks about hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking. It's a process that frees natural gas and oil buried thousands of feet underground by shooting a mixture of water and sand — and other, undisclosed ingredients — into layers of shale and coal, shattering them and freeing the gas. It's occurring in a couple dozen states, including Colorado, even as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launches a study into its possible impacts.
"There are environmentalists out there, and their colleagues in Congress," Lamborn says, "who want to shut that down, or at least cripple it, because they have flawed environmental presuppositions to how they operate." He's working on a bill that would reduce the federal government's ability to regulate the practice: "[The states] are already doing it, and they are doing a great job."
Last year, New York became the first state in the nation to place a partial moratorium on hydrofracking. Driving this move were years of complaints coming out of upstate New York; the groundwater in some areas surrounding hydrofracking wells is undrinkable, even explosive.
One woman at the town hall stands up and, over a few boos, explains as much: "I have friends in Pennsylvania and New York, where hydrofracking has been used," she says, "and they are suffering from the effects of that."
Lamborn lets her statement pass without comment.
He does, however, reference last year's BP oil spill in the Gulf — not to acknowledge the environmental dangers in domestic energy production, but to bemoan the Obama administration's decision to halt drilling for a while. "It's just horrible," he says, "the jobs that have been lost."
After thanking Lamborn for "gracing us with [his] presence," Rep. Stephens sounds ready to fire up the drill as well.
"I just saw two terrible bills cross my desk that are trying to prevent the hydrofracking," she says. "That's why it is good to be in the majority, even by one vote. Because we are able to say, 'No, we are not going to let that happen.'"
The message in her 15-minute monologue is clear: House Republicans will be drawing lines in the sand that Democrats shall not be allowed to cross.
"There ain't one thing that is going to pass on our watch," she says, "that doesn't say business is going to be at the center."
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