Sunday, July 26, 2009

Editorial: Despite Economic Hard times, Colorado Has Energy Opportunities

Submitted by: Heartland Energy Colorado

By Mark Udall (originally published in the Durango Herald News,
March 16, 2009)

Plunging stocks, rising unemployment, mounting home
foreclosures and a broken credit market have made for the most
challenging economic crisis since the Great Depression. A
series of costly bailouts to keep our financial services and
automobile industries afloat has added to the anxiety we all feel.

Nothing is more important than getting our economy back on
track and doing it soon. In great crisis, however, there also
is great opportunity. Rebuilding long-neglected infrastructure
and investing in research, new technologies and sustainable
energy are part of what defines economic opportunity in the
21st century. Other countries know this. Europe in particular
is advancing public investment in solar, wind and geothermal
energy, not only because of energy security, but also because
these “green jobs” are the wave of the future.

Renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies accounted for 9 million jobs in 2007. And as many as 37 million jobs could be created in the next two decades if we aggressively expand public and private investment today. These new “green economy” jobs reflect a significant economic trend that is exciting smart investors. That is why one of America’s premier oil entrepreneurs, T. Boone Pickens, has become an outspoken advocate for wind power. He knows that there is a lot of “green” (as in dollars) to be made in the green economy In Colorado, we have a head start in the global race to go green.

Starting with the passage of Amendment 37 five years ago, Colorado voters insisted that 10 percent of our power be generated with renewable energy. When I chaired that campaign with Republican Speaker of the House Lola Spradley, she often would remind me that the real promise of Amendment 37 was not environmental protection but economic development. She was right. Despite the naysayers, Amendment 37 boosted our economy and helped consumers.

Today, Colorado has pushed ahead of other states. We now are
moving toward a new goal of 20 percent renewable energy by
2020. Rapid growth in renewable energy and energy efficiency
industries, along with the presence of the National Renewable
Energy Laboratory in Colorado and our abundant sun and wind
resources, can combine to make our state not just the national
leader but the global leader in renewable energy research,
development and manufacturing.

This doesn’t mean the abandonment of coal, natural gas or
traditional energy development. Colorado is blessed with many
resources, and we should pursue a national energy strategy that
is as diverse as our resource inventory. A broad commitment to
invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies
will complement, not detract from, the responsible development
of these other resources.

After passing an economic recovery bill that has significant
new investments to create green economy jobs, the U.S. Senate
is moving to debate and pass a comprehensive energy bill that
should include legislation I championed in the U.S. House of
Representatives last year - legislation mandating that 20
percent of our nation’s electricity come from renewable
sources. This legislation is patterned from Colorado’s own
experience with Amendment 37 and will have the same effect of
increasing our energy independence, saving consumers money and
creating new jobs.

A comprehensive energy bill will add new authority for the
Obama administration to transform the nation’s electric grid -
the system used by utilities to carry and store power - into a
smarter and more efficient way to connect our communities,
factories and homes. More green jobs.

Energy is the thread in the fabric that is our economy. It is
the great umbrella issue that covers both our national security
and economic challenges. If we get our energy strategy right,
we can go a long way toward enhancing our defense and national
security. A smarter energy policy also will give us a ladder to
climb out of the current economic hole and create new wealth
and jobs that cannot be outsourced.

The clouds on our horizon may look dark and foreboding, but I
am confident Americans will see the storm through. That is
because the horizon also offers hope and reminds us that a new
day is coming. We can make Colorado’s economy stronger and
brighten the future for our children if we seize this new

Other Energy News Sources: Heartland Energy Colorado | Heartland Energy

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