Obama clean energy push draws partisan reaction from Colorado lawmakers

President Obama’s call to increase domestic energy production Tuesday received a rosy reception from Colorado’s lefty lawmakers but was all but ignored by its conservative congressional delegation who are still smarting from the commander-in-chief’s recent blocking of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Rep. Scott Tipton
“The President had an opportunity tonight to unite the American people, but instead chose to divide for political gain, offering no authentic solutions, just the same old partisan rhetoric we’ve heard over the past three years,” U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R- Colorado, said in a press release. “Since the President failed to reach out to us, I want to make the offer and invite him to work together. We have some great ideas on the table including: creating thousands of jobs and a reliable energy resource by building the Keystone pipeline; passing a budget that considers our children’s future by responsibly reining in out of control spending and paying down the debt; reforms [sic] the tax code by eliminating loopholes and lowering rates to create economic growth.”

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, on the other hand, issued a statement after the State of the Union address to say he was “encouraged to hear the President talk so much about clean energy, as Colorado is leading the nation when it comes to renewable energy research and development. Many of the new jobs the President talked for this industry will be created in Colorado – and we are ready.”

Despite his stance on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, Obama touted the millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration that have been approved under his tenure and directed his administration “to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources.” American oil production is the highest it’s been in eight years. “That’s right — eight years,” he said to applause in the chamber.

But noting that the United States has only 2 percent of the world’s known oil reserves, Obama pledged to end subsidies for oil companies and instead “double-down” on “an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy.”

In last year’s State of the Union speech, the president also emphasized domestic energy production but never climate change. This year, he briefly acknowledged the problem.

“We can also spur energy innovation with new incentives. The differences in this chamber may be too deep right now to pass a comprehensive plan to fight climate change. But there’s no reason why Congress shouldn’t at least set a clean energy standard that creates a market for innovation. So far, you haven’t acted. Well, tonight, I will. I’m directing my administration to allow the development of clean energy on enough public land to power 3 million homes,” said Obama, adding the Department of Defense will also purchase enough capacity to power a quarter of a million homes a year.

“Clean energy,” however, means different things to different people. In the past, the White House has used the term to include nuclear power, natural gas development and other controversial fuels.

Obama paid special attention to natural gas, noting that America has an almost 100-year supply and that his administration “will take every possible action to safely develop this energy.” He estimated natural gas could create more than 600,000 jobs in the next decade.

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colorado, applauded what she heard in the State of the Union.

Rep. Diana DeGette
“For Colorado, the President’s proposals to make the most of America’s energy resources hold great promise as our state stands ready to lead the nation in the new energy economy, creating jobs for hard-working Coloradans and securing our economy for the future,” she said. “I am particularly pleased to hear him call for mandatory disclosure in hydraulic fracturing – a common-sense step that’s been central to my work to ensure the economic benefits of natural gas do not come at the expense of the health and safety of families.”

The president’s pleas for Congress to rise above partisanship were heard loud and clear by U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, who, after the State of the Union, remarked “… One place we can find common ground is on the responsible development of clean-burning natural gas, which Colorado has in abundance, as part of a transition toward clean energy and away from overseas oil.”

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colorado, also issued words of encouragement for Obama’s speech.

“President Obama tonight outlined not only a blueprint for an economy built to last but an action agenda that reflects what Coloradans have been telling Congress to address for months: create jobs and strengthen the economy; reform education for our children and economic future; make college more affordable; invest in clean renewable energy to make us energy independent; and ensure that all Americans have a chance to work hard and succeed,” Polis said. “These are all practical, common sense solutions to our most pressing challenges that Congress should embrace, and I look forward to working with Democrats and Republicans this year to make progress for Colorado and America.”


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