“We have a spending problem more than we need to raise taxes,” he said during a 90-minute appearance at the Grand Center.
About 50 people attended the session, which included a question-and-answer period.
The congressman called entitlements – Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security – the biggest cause of federal debt.
He was elected to Congress in 2008, but has represented the revamped third district just since January. The district includes Grand, San Juan, Emery, Carbon, Salt Lake, Wasatch and Utah counties.
Chaffetz said he supports natural resource development, including tar sands and coal extraction. It will allow Utah to move forward economically, he said, and can be done while protecting the environment.
“It’s a false choice” to choose between the two, Chaffetz said, adding, “I think you can have a balance.”
A woman in the audience said she’s concerned because it appears the Utah congressional delegation wants to take control of federal land in the state.
“It seems to me there is some partisan politics … and the constituents’ welfare is not being take care of,” she said. “The Utah delegation is not representing the people.”
Chaffetz denied the delegation has been environmentally irresponsible.
“We have done so much to see that preservation is there,” he said, adding that lawsuits by “radical environmentalists” have slowed the nation’s pursuit of energy self-sufficiency.
“We can let these environmental radicals get in the way of something that’s going to propel us forward,” Chaffetz said.
Another woman said she’s worried about environmental effects of tar sands oil development, such as the project going forward in Utah’s Book Cliffs.
Chaffetz replied that tar sands “should be part of the mix.”