Ritter names Madden climate czar

Living in Colorado can be confusing. Last week saw record-breaking warmth along the Front Range, with temperatures reaching the 70s. Earlier this week, we marked the coldest night of the year as the mercury fell below zero. It seems as though there ought to be someone to call when the weather swings so wildly, someone in state government who could coordinate things when residents have questions or complaints about the climate changing like it does. Alas, that someone won’t be former House Majority Leader Alice Madden, the Boulder Democrat named this week to the new position of climate-control coordinator. She has other fish to fry.

Colorado climate-change coordinator Alice Madden (Photo/House Democrats)

Colorado climate-change coordinator Alice Madden (Photo/House Democrats)

Madden, who served four terms in the state House of Representatives and was term-limited this year, will be paid an $80,000 salary through grants from the Hewlett, Denver and Energy foundations, Gov. Bill Ritter announced.

“Alice Madden has distinguished herself as one of Colorado’s most accomplished and talented public servants,” Ritter said in a statement. “Her thoughtfulness and problem-solving skills will be crucial as we strive to achieve the goals in Colorado’s Climate Action Plan and strengthen Colorado’s New Energy Economy. Expanding the use of wind, solar, geothermal and clean-burning natural gas will create jobs, clean the air and address climate change.”

Madden’s take:

“I’m extremely honored to serve in this position and help our region combat the broad effects of climate change,” said former House majority leader. “Climate change is taking its toll in every corner of Colorado.

“Farmers, ranchers and the ski industry are concerned about winter snowpack. Citizens are worried about rising energy costs. Commuters are concerned about efficient and affordable transportation choices, and we all are worried about the future of our forests, air and water,” Madden said.

“One of the most exciting aspects to this challenge is that almost every solution has the added benefit of creating jobs. In these tough economic times, I can’t think of a better win-win for us all,” Madden said.

“Alice Madden has a well-developed reputation as a fair and reasonable legislator,” Xcel Energy Managing Director for Government and Regulatory Affairs Roy Palmer said in the announcement. “We’re sure she’ll bring those same skills to bear on the issue of climate change.”

Already we can feel the climate improving. Palmer, Rocky Mountain News reporter Lynn Bartels notes, was chief of staff to Republican Gov. Bill Owens.

Madden steps into the shoes of Heidi VanGenderen, who has helmed the Climate Action Plan since 2007. She recently left the governor’s office to work for Camco International, a carbon-offset trading company, according to Politics West reporter John Ingold.

And next time the weather throws you for a loop? Call a friend in California to complain. The climate’s always temperate there.

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Ernest Luning

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