Feb 012009
Authors: Jessica Cline

Kicking off the state’s legislative session, several Colorado environmental organizations and state legislators made clear their intentions to “green-up” Colorado’s economy, a top priority.

In a Saturday morning press conference held at the New Belgium Brewery, a company that has received national recognition for its sustainability success, the Colorado environmental community released its environmental agenda for 2009.

The agenda includes a push for more solar-powered homes, more environmentally healthy transportation, protection from oil and gas drilling impacts and stronger energy conservation efforts.

“We have a crisis staring us in the face, but I believe we can turn it around into an opportunity,” said State Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins, who said he believes in and embraces the notion of a “green recovery.”

“The environmental community is bringing in very forward thinking ideas,” he said.

Ben Prochazka and Pam Kiely from Environmental Colorado shared their plan to improve the Colorado economy by making Colorado a cleaner, healthier, more energy-efficient place.

Kiely said that the new energy economy is alive, well and working, and right now we need it more than ever.

“We used to think you had to make a choice; it was either the environment or the economy. But recently we have learned that we can have both,” Kefalas said.

“In Colorado, we have resources and assets, such as the wind and the sun . to make our goals possible,” he added.

One of the bills Environmental Colorado is trying to pass through legislation would help increase energy efficiency and lower utility bills for customers.

“We are all faced with incredibly tough situations economically, but with challenge comes huge opportunity,” Kiely said.

Kiely said that she and her colleagues want to protect and preserve Colorado’s wilderness areas, which is a large source of income for Colorado.

She discussed the push for solar-powered homes and energy efficiency, along with how these efforts could help rebuild Colorado’s economy.

“Everything we’re pushing for is what is actually going to rebuild and repower our economy,” Kiely said.

Prochazka discussed issues including fighting oil and gas drilling companies to keep Colorado’s environment, air, and water clean and protecting the environment and the community’s health. He also discussed the need for change in the current transportation system.

“We need a 21st century transportation system with buses, light rails and pedestrian bike and walk ways that encourage sustainability and help to rebuild our economy,” Prochazka said.

State Rep. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, agreed.

“We must look at a multi-mode transportation system that gives people choices of how to get from point A to point B,” Kefalas said.

Staff writer Jessica Cline can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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