DENVER– Around 50 environmental volunteers clad in raincoats, ponchos, and umbrellas “stormed” Senator Michael Bennet’s office on Wednesday urging him to take a strong stance protecting the Clean Air Act from recent attacks in Congress.
Participants in the “storm” action have said that Bennet has been mum or at least vague on his energy and environmental positions. Although Bennet, who is reportedly in Colorado this week, was not at the office, staffers assured the crowd of around 50 people squeezed into the space that the senator would oppose attacks on the Clean Air Act and that he would work with them to move toward a clean energy economy.
Although the event was led by 1Sky, volunteers from 11 different organizations took part in the action. From now until Earth Day, 1Sky and allied organizations will target selected Congressional offices around the country, calling on support for a strong and unified opposition to attempts to destroy or weaken the Clean Air Act.
“The event was a success. We were pleased by the attendance and the positive response we received,” said 1Sky Organizer Micah Parkin.
Bennet spokesman Michael Amodeo said that many climate and energy bills are still being formulated and that it’s “too early to tell” when a major federal climate and energy bill will appear on the Senate floor. He said financial reform will probably take precedent over climate and energy action in the coming weeks.
With diminished support for the House cap-and-trade legislation passed in the fall, lawmakers may be looking for fresh ideas on climate change and energy policy. Bennet’s office said the senator sees renewable energy as the way “to create jobs and stimulate the economy” and “to get CO2 under control.”
Amodeo said Bennet agrees with the Obama administration’s all-of-the-above approach to energy, that he supports “responsible” development of natural gas and is willing “to consider everything on the table,” including nuclear, coal, gas, and oil. The Senator also believes forming coalitions of ranchers, farmers, environmentalists and members of the business community would be an effective approach to formulating a plan “that makes sure clean energy is done in the right way for Colorado.”
Don Ross, 67, a retired bush pilot who is riding his bike from his home in Alaska to Washington D.C. to raise awareness of the effects of climate change in Alaska, spoke at the event. He said he has witnessed widespread die-off of trees and new wandering caribou migration patterns.
“After I retired I started thinking, what am I going to do with the rest of my life? And it turned out to be this bike ride to spread awareness,” said Ross.
Also on Wednesday, the Colorado Senate passed the Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act against Republicans objections. Republicans claimed the bill would hobble the coal and mining industry.