30 minutes with Congresswoman Lauren Boebert


ALAMOSA – Earlier this week, the Valley Courier conducted an interview with Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, Republican representative for Congressional District 3, following repeated postponements by the congresswoman’s office due to schedule conflicts.

The Courier had initially been limited to fifteen minutes. The interview ended up being twice that long with the congresswoman answering questions on a number of topics plus other information she wanted included in the conversation.

What follows is a transcript of that interview, edited for clarity.  In some cases, clarification or follow up questions after the interview are in italics.

Congresswoman Boebert, what do you consider to be your most important piece of legislation in your first term?

My most important piece of legislation is my forestry bill. This is a piece of legislation that we need to see passed into law so we can start to manage our forests.

We have six billion standing dead trees in the western United States, all creating a massive tinderbox. These catastrophic wildfires create more carbon emissions in just a few short days than every vehicle in Colorado running all day and all night for a year. And this is exactly the kind of legislation that we need to manage our forests.

If it had gotten out of committee, how would the Western Water Securities Act help farmers and ranchers in the valley?

The Western Water Security Act protects our private water rights and it makes the owners of the water rights prove beneficial use, so our water won’t be just sent over to the Front Range or other states. So we don’t have people from New York coming in and buying all of our water up and sending it to somewhere else. They will have to prove beneficial use of the water rights..

It also protects our private water rights from the federal government. The federal government, they want to take every drop of our water that they can, whether that be snow melt or whatever what have you. So that just protects our private water rights in Colorado.

Beneficial use is already part of water law in Colorado. Are you wanting to make beneficial use a federal law that applies to all states?

Yes.

(According to the National Agriculture Law Center, “Water allocation is generally governed by the states, with each state having its own regulatory system with very little federal intervention.” Seventeen states, most in the West, currently use a prior appropriation system that includes beneficial use. Other states use a “riparian” system that, while different, requires similar reasonable use of water.  Remaining states use a hybrid of both.)

You oppose 30x30 because you refer to it as a “federal land grab.” Can you think of some examples of federal land grabs, as you call it, that have happened in the past?

(30x30 references a Biden administration initiative to conserve 30 percent of the nation’s land and water by 2030. Called “America the Beautiful,” it aims to redefine what constitutes “conserved” land, to make that new definition distinct from “protected” land, and to cede power to local communities and tribal nations to reach that target.)

“Look at the CORE Act and Wilderness bill. These have not been put into law, but they seek to lock up 761,000 acres of land in Colorado’s 3rd district, and this impacts everything. This impacts managing our forest, our water supplies and our military.

“There’s a portion of land – I can give you the name of the land, but it’s in Carbondale -  and they have military training there with our helicopters, and it would even reduce the training area that they have where we train people from all over the world to fly these helicopters in different terrain. It would even reduce that size. I think they have a million acres right now and it significantly cuts into the amount of land they would be able to train over.

“This impacts us in many, many ways whenever we have these land grabs.. And then - just the land grabs that have already taken place where wilderness land is already set in place and we’re not able to manage that land.

This is what’s led to the standing dead trees, the bark beetle epidemic, catastrophic wildfires. It restricts multi-use on that land. It restricts recreation whether that’s fishing or off-road vehicles. It restricts the resources that we’re able to extract from the ground. And we need to be pushing towards energy independence, so we certainly don’t need to be locking up more of our land.

“It's interesting. I sit on the Natural Resources Committee, and our colleagues on the other side of the aisle are just fine with production taking place anywhere else in the world but not here.

“That’s our extremism where we can outsource our energy production to our adversaries, which leaves us vulnerable to a national security threat. 

“We need to mine to get these rare earth minerals for renewables. But here in America, Democrats are anti-mining. They’re anti-fossil fuel and nuclear. And, generally speaking, they’re anti-hydro.”

(The Colorado Open Recreation Economy – CORE – Act is currently in the Senate after being passed with bi-partisan support in the House. Sponsored by Colorado U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse and Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper, the CORE Act would” protect roughly 400,000 acres of public land making sure that future generations can always enjoy our mountains, rivers and wildlife” (https://coreact.org.) and has statements of endorsement from county commissioners, ranchers, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. Republicans on the Senate Committee on Energy and Resources oppose the bill for its creation of areas where new mining and mineral leases will not be issued and the creation of a National Historic Site at the site of a WWII training ground.

All information on the bill, including a description from May of 2022, states that 400,000 acres of federal public land would be protected by the bill. It is not yet clear where the congresswoman’s figure of 761,000 acres is derived from.)

The U.S. Military has listed climate change as the number one threat to global security next to terrorism. Do you believe in climate change?

Yes, it happens four times a year.

Do you think that extreme weather events are not related to climate change?

Look, the climate is always changing. We are called to be good stewards to our land and to manage our environment. We all want cleaner air and cleaner water and our land to flourish. But this ‘do not touch’ approach has been a failed policy.

I do not believe that climate change is the number one threat, by any means. And if it is, then we need to make sure we are energy independent and able to produce cleaner, more reliable energy to tackle issues that they see. We’re not going to solve this problem that they claim is climate change. We’re not going to solve that at the altar of climate change with electric vehicles.

We also have people in the military with a very woke agenda. Transgender surgery for military personnel. There are a lot of people in the military who have gone woke and who are leading our troops and this is an extremist agenda that has to stop because this is not good for our national security.

You’ve listed nine legislative victories that you’ve gotten for the district, including funding for community mental health centers, forestry management, increased funding for PILT and securing pro-life amendments prohibiting federal funding for abortions. However, those accomplishments were authorized in the appropriations bill that you voted against. What do you say to voters who see that as a contradiction?

I went through the proper legislative means to get those victories signed into law. I offered amendments. I offered appropriation requests without earmarks. Earmarks sound really good and if they were used how they were supposed to be they would be but here in Washington D.C. they are used to buy votes from legislators. I went through the amendments and appropriation requests and was able to get those.

But I do not agree with how that bill came to the floor. We had 22 hours to read 2700 pages. I will not vote for something that myself and my staff do not have time to read and go over. I’m not of the mindset that you have to pass a bill to find out what’s in it.

There were $400 billion in earmarks. Luxury golf courses and hotels in San Francisco. This is not something that should have just been stuck together at the last minute. This is another one of Nancy Pelosi’s con games. I’m very proud that I was able to offer up those amendments because without me doing my part and getting those appropriations approve, they would not have been there. No legislator should vote for a 2700 page bill they only had 22 hours to read. We wouldn’t get a bill in the mail and just pay it without seeing how much it was or what it was for.

(According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Congress needed to complete appropriations work and the President needed to sign the measure by Tuesday, March 15, when the final FY 2022 continuing resolution expired. The House passed the measure on Wednesday, March 9. The Senate passed the FY2022 omnibus appropriations bill on the night of Thursday, March 10, by a vote of 68-31. President Biden signed the bill into law on Saturday, March 12, tree days before the resolution expired.)

In the League of Women Voters forum, you said you planned to oppose the gun legislation that was being discussed at that time in the Senate. What is now being finalized is somewhat similar to what was being discussed at that time. Have you had a chance to look at what is being proposed and, if so, and it comes to the House as is, will you vote in favor or do you still plan to oppose?

I may be saying this incorrectly. I’ve only looked at portions of what’s coming over from the text. That’s part of the conversation I was having before I got on the phone with you so that conversation is not complete. But from what I’m seeing is a no on this gun control compromise. It absolutely infringes on the rights of Americans from what I’m seeing at this time and I’m still poised as a no on this.

Can you be more specific on how it’s infringing on people’s gun rights?

Increasing age restrictions. This is infringing on 18, 19, 20 year olds. Red flag laws absolutely infringe on our first amendment rights, second amendment rights, third and fourth, fifth and sixth. I could go on and on.

I didn’t come here to legislate my constituents’ rights away. I came here to protect their rights, to assure their rights. Ultimately, that’s my job. My job is to keep them free.

And the power of this goal is in the second amendment. This is our check on a tyrannical government and thankfully we haven’t come to a situation where we have to use that and I don’t foresee where we have to use that. But the power still belongs to the people and I’m not here to give away the rights of the people.

Do you think there should be no restrictions on gun rights, at all?

The second amendment is perfect the way it is and shall not be infringed. We have gun laws on the books, and we see time and time again where those are not enforced. How about we enforce the laws that are on the books. We can start with Hunter Biden and him lying on a federal firearms form and go to him hiding a firearm in a dumpster and having the Secret Service help him cover that up. Let’s start with Hunter Biden, if we’re really serious about gun control rather than restricting law abding citizens and their need to protect themselves in all areas.

“And if schools is what they want to use as an excuse to take the rights of American citizens away, let’s start by securing schools. Gun free zones have been proven to be deadly.

“I’m a co-sponsor of legislation that ends federal gun free zones in schools. I think we should have trained, armed teachers. Certified teachers. Armed, present, able to neutralize the threat. We need to secure our schools and protect our children. That’s our nation’s most valuable asset.

“Laws that are already on the books don’t stop the capacities that are further used to add more layers to the legislation. Look at the gun laws that are already on the books in Chicago. It should look safer than Mayberry and the deaths that occur every week in Chicago are blatantly ignored by the media because it doesn’t fit their narrative.

“Gun free zones have been proven to be deadly. These big cities are an example of that.”

(The legislation being considered in the Senate closes the “boyfriend loophole”, which previously allowed felons convicted of domestic violence to own guns if their victims were not their spouses; allocates $750M for crisis intervention and red flag programs, requires more gun sellers to register as f\federally Licensed Firearm Dealers, calls for more thorough review of 18-21 year old gun buyers and more funding for mental health programs, school security.”)

You have said that water is your main priority for CD3. The Bi-Partisan Infrastructure bill brought $8b to Western states for water projects, including  leasing water from farmers to send down the Colorado river and restoring and managing forests devastated by fire. Yet, you said the bill was wasteful and targeted fellow Republicans who voted for it, calling them RINOs. How should voters reconcile those two things?

We don’t have to compromise on our core principles to get things done in Washington and I’ll work with anyone on the other side of the aisle. But the so-called Bi-Partisan Infrastructure Bill was filled with liberal wish list items. It did not benefit America as a whole.

This is a $1.2 trillion bill and only nine percent went toward anything even infrastructure related. I didn’t come to Washington to play Nancy Pelosi’s con games.

I offered up an alternative bill, the American Infrastructure Modernization Act. It would take $650 billion of unspent Covid funds and put it toward actual infrastructure – roads, bridges, ports.

That would have been a wonderful solution that didn’t add to our debt, didn’t require printing new money and didn’t impact inflation more than the government already has and funded actual infrastructure.

(The 9 per cent claim was originally made by former President Donald Trump and posted on social media where it was widely shared after the bill passed.

According to the White House fact sheet and independent fact checkers, the bill allocated $110 billion for roads and bridges, $66 billion for railroads, $17 billion for ports, $240 billion for upgrading the power grid, $55 billion for water infrastructure, $8 billion for Western water infrastructure in response to ongoing drought, $39 billion for public transit, $65 billion for broadband, $11 billion for safety enhancements including highways, $7.5 billion for electric charging stations, $7.5 billion for electric school buses and $47 billion for cybersecurity and climate change mitigation. Those figures alone total more than 44% of the bill.

When asked what source was used to make the nine percent claim, the press secretary for Congresswoman Boebert referenced the Investopedia website and responded that $110 billion was allocated for roads and bridges, which comprises nine percent of the bill.

In a follow up question to the press secretary, it was asked if the congresswoman does not consider many of those additional funding areas included in the bill to also be infrastructure, citing that the majority - plus other areas such as energy production - were included in previous infrastructure proposals put forth by the former president and defined by him as such.

The spokesman responded, “The Congresswoman is not interested in funding electric school buses, Nancy Pelosi’s train to nowhere, chargers for AOC’s Tesla, trains in New York, and Green New Deal policies at the expense of Coloradans’ tax dollars.”)

At the conclusion of the interview, Congresswoman Boebert also wanted to discuss several additional topics, starting with fentanyl.

“Fentanyl is the number one killer of 18-45 year olds. It’s killing our children in our communities.

“I’m up against an opponent who voted to remove qualified immunity from our police officers who now have the potential to be held liable because they no longer have qualified immunity. But also, on top of that, he also voted to decriminalize fentanyl in our nation. This is problematic.

“These are the kinds of things I won’t compromise on. I was fine with the laws the way they were when it was at four grams. In fact, I’d like to increase that to make it a Weapon of Mass Destruction. We’re not talking about marijuana here.”

Boebert also wanted to discuss the RWR proposal to export thousands of acre feet of water out of the valley to Douglas County.

“We touched on water, but you haven’t brought this up.

“In the San Luis Valley, RWR had plans to steal San Luis Valley’s water, and that deal is dead now.

“I’ve been working closely with farmers, ranchers, water districts and local officials through the San Luis Valley to stop them wanting to steal seven billion gallons of water per year using Covid money.

“That was a terrible plan. I worked with the Douglas County Commissioners who were supportive of this deal.

“In February, I worked with farmers, ranchers, water districts and local officials to build a coalition in opposing RWR’s plan to export that water. I wrote an op/ed about that.”

So, you’re saying that, at that meeting in February, you built the coalition that stopped the RWR proposal.  Senator Coram called you out on that at the forum and said that was not accurate.

“He named another person who was part of that coalition. To say that I had a part of this is to say that, um, the senator didn’t have any part of this, and that’s a total farce.”

Aside from that meeting in February, you said that you spoke to the commissioners. Did you have a conversation with them?

“There were many conversations with them. I had offered to testify remotely but they said that wasn’t necessary because things were headed in the right direction.

“Senator Cleave Simpson is wonderful and he’s been a state legislator that I’ve had great joy in working with. So I’m not discounting his efforts, at all.

“But when I heard about this, I went to the San Luis Valley immediately and started my communication with the Douglas County Commissioners and now the deal is gone.”

(The Rio Grande Water Conservation District commissioned work from a PR firm to oppose RWR in January 2020. Shortly after that, the community worked together to establish a website. Those efforts and others were well underway to oppose the export two years prior to February of this year.)

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