After Congressman Paul Cook answered callers’ questions on Friday’s Up Close show on Z107.7, we had the opportunity to get his views on some additional issues that impact the Morongo Basin. Dan Stork asked the District 8 Representative to comment on the sequester, renewable energy development, and the Joshua Tree National Conservation and Historic Reserve…

Representative Paul Cook had no solutions to offer for three Morongo Basin issues in which the federal government has a role. However, he did articulate an appreciation for the balancing of interests that a lawmaker in his position has to address. With regard to the effect of the sequester on the military and the national parks: “We have a responsibility to keep our financial house in order. But we cannot collapse our parks, we cannot certainly collapse our Defense Department.” We asked whether he felt that the county moratorium on solar development should be extended to federal lands. Cook characterized the administration as being antagonistic to oil and natural gas development, and added “They looked upon solar energy –at least in California–and wind energy as this big savior. I understand that, and I did too, I was hoping we could, and just as happens so often in government, you end up with unintended consequences, and you have to address those.” When asked to comment on efforts in Joshua Tree to create a National Conservation and Historic Reserve, Cook said that existing rural job providers such as ranches, mines, and cement producers should not be compromised by conservation efforts in general. With regard to specific efforts in Joshua Tree, he said “When you run a bill like this, for Joshua Tree, and it’s only for Joshua Tree, somebody puts an amendment on it because they want something similar for their area. So it’s not as clean-sounding as it …and I’ve learned that very, very quickly, in eight months. And that’s the education of Paul Cook, I guess.”

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