Sep 152008
 
Authors: Rep. John Kefalas

Albert Einstein once said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” It is important to keep this in mind as we debate rising energy costs, their impact on Colorado families and the need for energy security and independence.

Such complex issues come starkly into focus as we feel the chill of autumn now and anticipate the bite of winter just around the bend.

We are all experiencing the squeeze on our family budgets with high gas prices and the extra anxiety associated with concerns of how we are going to pay this winter’s heating bills.

For families living paycheck to paycheck, and seniors living on fixed incomes, these realities are especially harsh. According to Energy Outreach Colorado, we can expect a 12 percent increase in average residential gas and electric costs from November to April — $1,118 over that time period. Folks are eager to blame someone when it comes to rising energy and transportation costs. But this ignores the core fact behind the increases: more worldwide demand for oil, coupled with less supply. As the world develops, demand grows, regardless of who is in charge of government.

It’s not a partisan problem. It’s an American problem — and for that matter, a global problem that will define the kind of world we leave our grandchildren. So we’d better get serious and aggressive about implementing long-term solutions while dealing with current consequences. And despite what some are saying, we cannot drill our way to cheaper energy.

Government works best when it promotes collaboration and innovation that fosters new and sustainable industries rather than maintaining the status quo. Now, more than ever, we owe it to our kids to get beyond petty politics and complete the job.

We have arrived at the precipice of a new era, and we have a serious choice before us. We can march lockstep over the precipice and “drill, baby drill.” We can keep fighting wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and maybe Iran and Pakistan to keep Middle-Eastern oil flowing west. Or, we can pursue a comprehensive strategy that moves us forward with due diligence and imagination to achieve genuine energy security and independence.

We can drill responsibly to take advantage of the oil and gas supplies that do exist at home, while conserving our lands for wildlife and recreation and protecting our precious water resources. We can open markets so new, large and small-scale technologies can flourish.

We can expand educational opportunities at our schools and colleges today so our kids can compete for the green collar jobs of tomorrow. We can invest in our transmission infrastructure to get wind and solar energy from the plains to the cities. We can invite utilities to diversify. And we can get much more serious about transforming our economy to allow for shared prosperity and energy stewardship.

Simply put, we can invest now to secure our energy future.

We’ve been following the second strategy in Colorado, and it’s paying off.

Vestas, one of the world’s manufacturing leaders in wind energy, is making major investments across the state, bringing 2,500 new, good paying jobs to Colorado. ConocoPhillips is placing their new, experimental energy laboratory in Louisville and bringing with it hundreds – and soon as many as 7,000 new jobs. And together, thanks to the leadership of Colorado voters, we’re all helping make sure that 20 percent of Colorado’s electricity comes from renewable energy, most likely before 2020.

Colorado is showing the nation and the world how it’s done, and we should be proud. Let me know what you think. Please contact me at john.kefalas.house@state.co.us.

John Kefalas is the state representative for House District 52. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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