Citizens’ Climate Lobby: Colorado’s resources may help to lower global carbon emissions (column) | VailDaily.com

Citizens’ Climate Lobby: Colorado’s resources may help to lower global carbon emissions (column)

Arlan Moore
Valley Voices

A prosperous Colorado economy is something that we who live here all want to see and be a part of. As our Western Slope district representative to Congress, Rep. Scott Tipton, stated in a recent op-ed about our Western Slope natural gas industry, titled, "We must utilize Colorado's vast natural resources," "responsible energy development and the preservation of Colorado's land do not have to be mutually exclusive."

All of us have a stake in seeing that we use our resources in a manner that will promote a healthy future for us, and it is good to see that our representative in Washington is bearing this in mind.

In addition to natural gas, Colorado also has vast resources in its sunshine, wind and unparalleled outdoor recreational opportunities. The renewable energy and outdoor recreational sectors are actually growing faster and producing more new jobs and income than the fossil-fuel sector, at far less harm to the environment and those recreational activities that we so cherish.

With wind and solar power now outbidding fossil fuels (including natural gas), Xcel Energy Colorado is rapidly transitioning to an energy mix of which more than half will come from renewable energy sources. That's right — more than half.

A higher percentage of clean renewables is the insurance that we need to help reduce the greenhouse gasses that seem to be making our world a more difficult place to live. The further development of all of the possibilities within the clean-energy sector fits the criteria that Rep. Tipton espouses: economic growth and prosperity utilizing Colorado's vast resources while protecting the environment and minimizing pollution.

While natural gas will continue to be a part of our energy mix for some time to come, it is important to remember our renewable energy options (they're getting cheaper every day) and plan our future and our future expenses accordingly.

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There are many hidden costs to using carbon-emitting fuels. Discouraging their use is a practical imperative. Citizens' Climate Lobby has developed a plan to do just that, while at the same time enhancing overall economic growth, increasing employment and saving lives through improved air quality.

The plan includes a fee on carbon-emitting fuel sources and a dividend from that fee. The plan is for the entire fee, minus minimal administrative costs, to be returned to this nation's households as a monthly energy dividend.

This plan will speed up the ongoing shift from coal to gas in the power sector, benefiting our Western Slope gas providers.

We are hoping that Rep. Tipton will show the same kind of enthusiasm and leadership for promoting renewable energy that he is for developing natural gas. Increasing his endorsement and promotion of this sector will benefit his constituents, the economy and the environment and serve as a role model for other members of Congress, showing that the evolving role of renewables in the energy mix needn't be a point of contention between parties, but can and should be a trend that all parties embrace and facilitate.

One very positive step he can take would be to join the bipartisan Congressional Climate Solutions Caucus to represent western Colorado in that group's effort to address the harmful effects of carbon pollution. Colorado is really feeling the effects of unprecedented heat and drought, with crippling fires, water shortages and warmer, drier winters. We're sure the majority of his constituents would greatly appreciate him representing their interests in that caucus' deliberations.

And, speaking of resources, let's not forget Colorado's most important resource; it's us, the people who live here in Colorado. We are all in this together. Together, we can make this happen.

Arlan Moore, of McCoy, wrote this column in collaboration with other Western Colorado Citizens' Climate Lobby members.