Michael Bennet shares stories of climate battles in Congress at campaign stop in Eagle

The Democrat is running for a third term in the Senate

Colorado Senator Michael Bennet speaks to a group of locals Wednesday at Grand Ave. Grill in Eagle.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

Locals on Wednesday in Eagle got to see what Sen. Michael Bennet called a different viewpoint than he often expresses during a campaign stop at Grand Ave. Grill.

“Last year, we talked a lot about the dysfunction in Washington, and the inability to really get anything done, and it’s been like that off and on for an awful lot of the time that I’ve been in there, I regret to say,” Bennet said. “Having said that, if you look at the last 12 months or so, it is extraordinary what’s been accomplished.”

Bennet said he was most proud of the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act, otherwise known as the climate bill, sharing a story of an 11th-hour fight to include $4 billion to combat the effects of drought in the Colorado River Basin.

“I went on national television and said ‘I’m not voting for a bill that does anything to mess up Colorado’s water, or the Upper Basin’s water, I will not do it,'” Bennet said.

Not long after, Bennet said he found himself in Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office.

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“And he was saying to me, you’ve got an hour and a half to negotiate this language with (Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, Sen. Joe Manchin, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, Sen. Mark Kelly),” Bennet said. “And we were able to do it.”

Bennet touted other legislation that he had a hand in passing in recent months, including the Postal Service Reform Act, which was signed into law in April, the Veterans Health Care Freedom Act, which passed the U.S. Senate on Aug. 2, and the CHIPS and Science Act, which was signed into law on Aug. 9.

But Bennet also shared his concerns about the large issues that he said have been bothering him since he took office.

“People say we can’t save, we feel like our kids are going to live a more diminished life than the life we live and we’re already making choices that our parents and grandparents didn’t have to make,” Bennet said.

Ninety-year-old Katherine Delanoy, of Eagle, met Bennet for the first time on Wednesday after years of writing letters to his office.

Delanoy said when she first started writing Bennet, early in his first term, her letters contained some harsh criticisms.

“But he’s since withdrawn his support for fossil fuels, so now the letters are nicer,” she said.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, left, addresses attendees at a campaign event at Grand Ave. Grill in Eagle on Wednesday. On his right is Katherine Delanoy, 90, of Eagle, who met the senator for the first time at the event.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

Delanoy was one of several locals who were able to ask Bennet an impromptu question on Wednesday.

Delanoy said the climate bill does a lot to encourage change from oil and gas to renewables, “but my feeling is nothing is moving fast enough, and I’m wondering if there’s anything else coming up.”

Bennet told Delanoy that after years of having a policy that was “terrible on reducing emissions,” he feels the U.S. is finally transitioning away from a fossil-fuel economy.

Bennet said the reason the transition didn’t start sooner is the American people are worried about transforming the economy, and “the federal government will screw it up — all legitimate concerns,” he said.

As a result, “it’s been easy for the oil lobby to stop everything in its tracks,” Bennet said. “But I do think the fact that we are able to assert fundamental American leadership on this question is going to mean we’re going to be able to move the rest of the world in this direction more quickly than we otherwise would have.”

Bennet also said he was proud of the Inflation Reduction Act because it will raise taxes on companies that are “doing stock buybacks to engineer results,” along with companies that make more than $1 billion per year.

“My kids and the kids that are the age of my kids in Colorado and across this country, they’ve never lived in a democracy that’s actually worked very well, they’ve lived in an economy that’s relentlessly shoveled the benefits of that economy to the wealthiest people, and their view of us — people in Congress — is: ‘Could you at least show some shred of caring for us by doing something on climate change?'” Bennet said.

Bennet is running for a third term in the Senate and in talking points for events like Wednesday’s, “my staff, you know, they put in the word proud,” Bennet said, saying he always removes the word from his speeches.

But on the climate bill, Bennet told Delanoy, “I was proud, Katherine, to call my daughter Caroline, who’s my oldest daughter, who’s 22 years old, and say to her that after working all night, after fighting off all those amendments, after being on the floor for 36 hours, that I could report to her that we had passed the most significant climate change legislation that America has ever seen.”

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