Salazar talks energy
FRISCO ” Colorado’s freshman senator sounded like he almost had to hold his nose when he voted for the new federal energy bill. But though Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar acknowledged that the bill, signed into law last week by President Bush, is “not a perfect bill by any stretch,” he said it’s still a start.
Salazar is on a whirlwind tour of the state, stopping in Eagle and Frisco Tuesday on his way to visiting every county in Colorado over the coming weeks. Speaking briefly about his first year as a U.S. senator ” a “glorious experience” ” Salazar turned his focus to the energy bill. Derided by some as doing little to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil, Salazar said there was both truth to that and hope.
“I’m proud of the energy bill,” he said, adding that he was heavily involved in its creation. “There are some significant issues, but I think it will help get us to a whole new level of energy independence.”
Speaking of “partisan poison” in Washington, D.C., Salazar said he has done his best to stay above it all and work as a moderate to serve the people. While plenty of issues demand his time, he identified energy as one of the biggest items he is focused on.
“We as a nation have failed to move to a position of greater energy independence,” he said. Noting that the U.S. imports some 60 percent of its oil from foreign countries, Salazar said the country also wastes 62 percent of the energy it consumes. Developing domestic energy resources and conserving what we have, he said, is key to the future.
Salazar described a “house of energy independence” with four cornerstones to it: conservation, renewable energy, new technology and oil and gas development. Speaking to a standing-room-only crowd, he hit some of the main points of each cornerstone:
– Conservation: One provision of the new energy bill, Salazar said, is that it sets efficiency standards for 14 common household appliances. Combined with new incentives for efficient home and commercial building construction, Salazar said the energy savings would amount to 50,000 megawatts and negate the need for 170 new power plants by 2020.
– Renewable energy: Salazar said Colorado is ahead of many states in the development and use of renewable energy and said the new bill has a “huge” portion dedicated to new incentives. “We’ll double the use of ethanol by 2012,” he said. “That will save 80,000 barrels of oil per day.” Salazar said other incentives address biodiesel, wind and solar energy.
“It’s all for reasons of national security but also economic security,”
he said, adding that ethanol and biodiesel production can really help struggling agricultural communities in Colorado and other states.
– New technology: “There’s a lot more we can do,” Salazar said. That ranges from projects to use cleaner, “high altitude” coal from Colorado to developing plug-in hybrid cars that can get up to 250 miles per gallon.
– Oil and gas development: “This is the part that’s gotten the most criticism,” Salazar said, referring to the generous subsidies the bill contains for oil companies already raking in huge profits. Salazar said the subsidies were aimed mostly at “marginal” wells that might otherwise be ignored by the oil companies, and said such development was necessary to “open the window” to energy independence.
On the subject of oil shale development on Colorado’s Western Slope, Salazar said he thought Congress was “putting the cart before the horse,” and said he remains wary.
“I’m not a fan of rushing headlong into commercial oil shale development because so much of that affects wildlife,” he said. “We also have to remember the boom-bust cycle of the past and be very careful.”
Salazar said he doesn’t believe we should be drilling in Colorado’s Roan Plateau and voted against drilling for oil in the Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
“There are special places we need to protect, and that won’t help us get to energy independence,” he said. “But I don’t control the future of the Roan Plateua. And though I’ll oppose drilling in ANWR, there’s a huge amount of political power behind it. Unless the people of the United Stands stand up against it, it will be opened up. The votes are there.”
Alex Miller can be reached at 970-949-0555 ext. 615 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado
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