Tipton vacated the seat to run for the Third Congressional District.
“Why am I running? I don’t think the need was ever more apparent than now, when you look at the state of the state and the state of the nation,” Coram said. “It’s times like this when common citizens step forward.”
As owner of a uranium and vanadium mining company, Coram is currently working on uranium mill cleanup in the county’s West End for the Department of Energy, which he said is a not a Superfund cleanup, but rather a cleanup on lease tracts.
“Miners are taking responsibility for what has been done in the past,” he said.
But mining should continue on the West End, he said, because it’s much safer now.
“You’ve got to look at the ways things have changed,” he said. “The technology is so much different than 1940 with all this product, and mistakes were made, no doubt about it.”
Back then, the uranium was primarily used by the federal government for the Manhattan Project, to develop nuclear bombs, and Coram blames the toxic waste left behind on wartime haste, but said there’s no comparison between mining then and now.
“When you look at mines recently, it’s like night and day,” he said. “The air is good, and safety is good.”
Coram is in favor of the proposed Piñon Ridge uranium mill in Paradox Valley that has people on the steeped-in-mining-tradition West End pitted against environmentalists and organic farmers. The mill has been approved for a special use permit by Montrose County and is now being considered by the state.
The Piñon Ridge mill would process 500 tons of ore per day, according to the Energy Information Administration, and produce yellowcake uranium for use in nuclear reactors and nonradioactive processed vanadium used in making steel.
More than anything, the West End needs jobs that the mill would create, Coram emphasized.
“In Naturita right now, there’s not a lot going on,” he said. “We need jobs throughout the district, and we’ve got to open the door and put the welcome mat out for business and industry. We need to make Colorado a little more user friendly, because it’s much harder to do business here than in other states.”
Harder because the state has passed so many regulations on industry with “unintended consequences,” he said.
“Corporations and businesses bottom lines have to make money, and if we make it too burdensome, they find another playground,” he said.
The permitting process for energy companies takes months or years in Colorado, while in Wyoming it’s just a matter of weeks, he said, adding that Colorado needs to ease that permit process and “do the responsible development” of the state’s natural resources.
The state needs to use all of its energy resources, Coram said.
“We need to use coal, gas, nuclear, solar when the sun shines, wind when the wind blows, and hydro where we can use it,” he said. “Don’t take anything off the table – we’ve got to use them all.”
But mining is important to this area, and more skiers than miners have died in the past few years, he said, and while “life itself is dangerous, even driving down the road,” he said, increasing uranium production is “not an undue risk.”
A Montrose native, Coram said his dad once ran the stockyards here, and he grew up in the farm and ranch business, and still runs cattle with his brother Dwayne in a cow-calf operation.
“We’re local people just trying to step up and do what our forefathers intended,” he said. “Professional politicians and government workers are not much in fashion right now, and I think that’s what got us in trouble.”
Coram, a Republican, is also concerned with education, which he said accounts for 42 percent of the state budget, as well as health care, and the size of government.
“We have to slow down government; it’s growing too fast,” he said. “It’s the only thing we’ve funded that’s growing.”
Coram and his wife Diana will be married for 44 years in October. She’s a fourth-generation Coloradan, whose family settled in the Hotchkiss and Crawford area in the 1880s, he said, while his family migrated here from Oklahoma in 1939. They’re both very involved in their community, he said.
“That’s something we take a lot of pride in,” he said. “We’ve always been involved, not for the notoriety, but because we absolutely love western Colorado and certainly want to make it better.”
On his website at www.votecoram.com, Coram expounds on his platform while castigating the administration of Gov. Bill Ritter.
“Our current governor and his followers in our State House and Senate are ignoring…history and are pursuing and enacting legislation that is devastating to our economy,” he stated.
He said the state’s “responsible development” of natural resources while protecting the environment is critical to resolving current economic problems, along with sustaining a strong agricultural community and encouraging growth of small businesses.
“Without a clear commitment to the basic values, economic recovery cannot be accomplished,” he said. “My promise to you is that, when it comes to our business community, I will embrace rather than intimidate, and will be an advocate for reducing regulations rather than resort to allowing them to further drain our economy.”
Coram is co-founder of Coffee Trader, a popular Main Street coffee shop that he started with his son Dee Coram and Phuong Nguyen, later selling his interests to them. He attributes the shop’s success to the duo, who both had extensive business experience in Las Vegas, Dee with Caesar’s Palace and Phuong at the MGM Grand Hotel.
But the shop would never have been created if Coram had been successful in his previous venture as owner of Gold Eagle Mining Company, which didn’t succeed because “we couldn’t get our product.”
The company was within days of closing a $6 million deal to operated mines from Monogram Mesa to Swift Rock with an Australian company when the world economy tanked a couple of years ago, and the Australians backed out. Now they’re back at the table, he said, and the company, with $60 million in assets, is viable once more. It was only after the mining venture failed that Coram decided to invest in the coffee shop.
Another area concerning Coram is keeping water rights in Blue Mesa Reservoir. He said that the Arkansas River Basin Authority is trying to get rights to 200,000 acre-feet of water from the reservoir, and he’s been working water districts and state offices to keep the rights secure.
“That’s unallocated water they’re trying to get their hands on, but it is like a bank to get us through bad years,” he said. “If it ever got transferred, the San Miguel and Dolores [rivers] would be in trouble, as would the Lower Basin Contract that supplies water to California, Arizona and New Mexico, which would be devastated if we lost that water.”
Coram said he is excited at the prospect of serving in Denver, and believes he all the right attributes. He said he has received endorsements from the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry and the Associated Builders and Contractors.
“My history is the same as Colorado’s — agriculture and natural resources and small business,” he said. “That’s exactly what started Colorado 134 years ago, and we’ve just got to get back to basics.”
The current situation with the state and country, according to Coram, cannot be corrected from Washington’s “top down” approach, he said, and the size of government must be reduced so that free enterprise can function.
“It is imperative that we become proactive now in order to turn the tide in 2010 and restore our local Republican values to our state and nation,” he said. “We must select candidates who remember their roots and do not get lost in the power of Denver and Washington politics.”
This story was updated on Aug. 31 at 3 p.m. to correct an error.