Bill Ritter spoke in Denver to several dozen supporters involved in one way or another in developing clean energy sources in the state this morning about his proposals for a New Energy Economy.
Ritter sees this energy policy as a way to reach out to hunters and anglers, and to farmers and ranchers, who have often trended Republican in the past, in addition to traditionally Democratic environmental activists.Ritter noted that sportsmen are concerned about the impact of thoughtless approachs to oil and gas development on natural habits they value. Increasingly, these sportsmen are seeing preserving natural places as a more pressing issue for them than gun control, a traditional hot button issue for hunters.
Ritter also expanded on his view that renewable energy could be a major economic development driver for rural Colorado. Solar power projects — many in economically struggling rural Southern Colorado, wind power projects — in places like Prowers County, and biofuels every place that Colorado farmers grow crops (and every place Colorado livestock dump manure) could breathe new economic life into the less densely populated areas of the state.
Conservation was also a place he felt that Colorado could be a leader, providing a model for federal policymakers whose most recent energy bill was in his view, and in the view of many he has discussed the issue with, a disappointment.
He sees an evolving coalition of Rocky Mountain state governors from Wyoming, Montana, Colorado and New Mexico working together to better balance fossil fuel development interests, the environment, and innovative new technologies for renewable fuel sources and energy conservation.
Recent Democratic Party Senate District 32 primary winner Chris Romer, also present at the event, took the opportunity to champion similar coalition building, on issues like providing the means to transmit power generated with renewable sources in Colorado to places like power hungry California.
The biggest applause line of the event, a reflection of the wonkiness of the attendees, was Ritter’s call for new and better appointees to the Public Utilities Commission, which regulars Xcel Energy. It certainly appears that if Ritter takes office that the environmental concessions made by the natural gas and electricity utility in its recently voter approved franchise agreement may not be its last.