Fort Collins – Standing in New Belgium Brewery, a very successful Colorado company that has one of America’s strongest sustainability programs, the state environmental community discussed the 2009 state environmental agenda to a crowd of Larimer County residents.
“Creating jobs and greening our economy is the number one priority of the environmental community for the 2009 legislature,” said Gary Wockner of Clean Water Action. “There’s perhaps no better place to have this discussion than at New Belgium Brewery, a company that has achieved national recognition for its success both in business and sustainability. Protecting the environment protects and enhances the economy and increases the bottom line.”
The environmental community is promoting a “Green Recovery” to Colorado’s economy by building on the New Energy Economy and by protecting our health and environment. This year’s environmental agenda focuses on the theme of energy and the economy, including both clean energy and Colorado’s oil and gas industry. The 2009 legislative package includes provisions to:
- boost solar-powered homes,
- create transportation solutions to cut global warming pollution,
- protect Colorado from oil and gas drilling impacts,
- and provide rural Coloradans the same opportunities for energy efficiency improvements that Denver-metro residents now enjoy.
“Clean energy is a sunny spot in Colorado’s economy,” said Pam Kiely, legislative program director of Environment Colorado. “While many sectors are cutting back, renewable energy companies are pushing forward – creating 88,000 jobs and spurring new manufacturing plants across Colorado.”
Solar home options legislation sponsored by Rep. Mike Merrifield (D-Colorado Springs) and Sen. Morgan Carroll (D-Aurora) would make solar power for electricity a standard option to all new homebuyers.
Advocates stressed a “green” recovery is only possible if Colorado adopts good state polices and Washington makes clean energy and transit solutions central to the national economic stimulus packages.
“Colorado’s current transportation policy needs a major overhaul,” said Ben Prochazka, lobbyist for the Colorado Environmental Coalition. “Investing in transit is where the state needs to go – it will reduce our dependence on oil and cut global warming pollution while saving citizens money in transportation costs.”
Oil and Gas Drilling:
Advocates support the adoption of new public health and environmental protections from oil and gas drilling impacts. The new protections were passed 8-to-0 by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission after more than 6,000 hours of meetings and six public hearings. They must now be voted on by the legislature and signed by the Governor for adoption.
“As energy development moves forward, we need to make sure it protects our state’s outdoor recreation economy,” said Ben Prochazka. “We don’t need to choose between jobs and the environment – protecting Colorado’s water, air, and natural beauty is essential.”
Advocates are also bringing back a bill that passed the Colorado House in 2008 which would require rural electric cooperatives and municipal utilities to help their customers increase energy efficiency and lower their utility bills. Similar efforts are already available in many urban areas served by Xcel Energy, Colorado’s largest utility.
“Cutting energy bills will help struggling families,” said Pam Kiely. “Just because a person lives in a rural community doesn’t mean that energy saving programs should be off limits.”
The environmental community will also provide a brief update on the northern Colorado issues of water supply and river preservation (Glade Reservoir, Windy Gap, Halligan, and Seaman), North I-25 transit solutions, and uranium mining.
Also attending the press conference and discussion will be State Representative Randy Fischer, who will provide remarks for the press and community.