Colorado Residents Hear Leaders' Opinions on National Push for Renewable Energy

Bobby Magill of the The Coloradoan reported this morning on a two hour forum featuring Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Colorado Governor Bill Ritter that discussed President Barack Obama’s “Clean Energy Economy” agenda.

In his article, he discusses what a large group of students and area residents were told by the leaders…

Ritter said his vision for such a clean energy economy in Colorado means creating an “ecosystem” in Colorado supporting research and development of renewable energy technology, something that is already quite robust here.

To make a response to climate change meaningful, people must “change the culture and how we think about energy,” Ritter said, answering a question from a student. “At the end of the day, it’s (about) the way you consume.”

Calling on the U.S. Senate to pass an energy and climate bill, Salazar said climate change and its solutions constitute an issue “where the very future of our children and planet are hanging in peril.”

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act in June, a cap-and-trade bill aimed at reducing the nation’s carbon emissions by 17 percent by 2020.

Markey said the House’s vote on the bill was “tough,” but change comes by the bill’s critics slowly.

“There is a lot of misinformation,” she said. “People feel they’re going to be taxed.”

But that’s not true, she said, adding that the agriculture so prevalent in her district benefits the most from the House’s clean energy bill.

“There will be no ‘cow tax,’ ” she said, referring to a notion that beef producers will be taxed for the methane their cattle emit.

Addressing the panel, Colorado Public Utilities Commission Chairman Ron Binz said he supports the idea of cap-and-trade, and a law requiring it is needed soon.

“We need an emissions cap,” he said. “That makes our job so much easier. The trade part is much less important.”

He said public utilities want to be given an emissions requirement to comply with, but because “Byzantine” regulations will make it harder to do so, a cap-and-trade bill needs to be simple and clear-cut.

Binz said later he’d also like to see tiered pricing for electricity based on consumption, a proposal he said the PUC will likely address and approve later this year.

Stephen Yurash, a member of the Fort Collins Electric Board, urged Ritter and the panel to support natural gas as part of any clean energy plan but also ensure government regulations don’t get in the way of using natural gas.

“Natural gas is absolutely a part of this,” Ritter said, insisting the state is serious about trying to build a natural gas infrastructure in Colorado to deliver it to market.

Ritter said after the forum that the environmental impacts of developing natural gas in Colorado have been addressed in new state rules regulating how and where natural gas is extracted.

Before the forum began and as an airplane circled above carrying a banner saying, “No Obama,” a small group of people stood outside the school protesting climate legislation and health-care reform.

The forum was held at the Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.