Aug 272009
Authors: Matt Minich

Several prominent national and local politicians stumped Thursday at Fossil Ridge High School for a piece of national legislation that aims to reduce carbon emissions and promote renewable energy resources.

Gov. Bill Ritter, Rep. Betsy Markey, D-District 4, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar and the chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, Nancy Sutley, met with local stakeholders to push the measure, which has gained national controversy from skeptics who say there are more affordable options to increase energy efficiency.

The forum comes two months after the American Clean Energy and Security Act squeaked its way through the U.S. House of Representatives, 219-212.

The more than 1,000-page law, spearheaded by two Democratic representatives, would require utility providers to reduce emission by 17 percent by 2020.

Markey said the effort is in response to a national call for renewable energy resources.

“I believe companies around the world have seen all the opportunities in renewable energy,” she told the crowd.

Discussion at the forum did not center on the bill itself but rather focused around the future of the new energy economy in Colorado and the United States. The invitation — only forum hosted members of local utility companies and environmental groups.

Those who spoke at the forum were universally supportive of energy reform, which was touted as a means for job creation as well as environmental stewardship.

Ritter stressed the importance of diversifying the state’s energy sources, and applauded CSU, CU-Boulder and the Colorado School of Mines for their research related to sustainability.

“They’re doing phenomenal things,” Ritter said.

Wade Troxell, the District 4 representative for City Council, cited CSU’s efforts to improve green technology, specifically its research in the areas of biofuel and smartgrid technology, which manages power usage.

The efforts have been touted nationally as part of the university’s push to establish itself as an environmentally friendly powerhouse.

“We’ve taken a comprehensive approach to developing a clean energy future (at CSU),” said Troxell, who also teaches mechanical engineering at CSU, echoing the Governor’s assessment of the university’s efforts.

Salazar, who was appointed by President Barack Obama to the office of Secretary of the Interior in December, compared the challenges of energy reform to those of the original moon landing.

The new energy economy will rely on the three principles of reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, creating green jobs and reducing pollution and carbon emissions, Salazar said.

All members of the panel agreed that changes to the nation’s energy policies would not consist entirely of developments in renewable energy sources, but would also rely heavily on developing current oil and coal resources, as well as expanding the role of natural gas.

Fossil Ridge High School was the first Colorado high school to receive recognition from the U.S. Green Building Council for complying with its green building standards.

Senior reporter Matt Minich can be reached at

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