Interior’s Salazar defends Obama’s energy policies | AspenTimes.com

Interior’s Salazar defends Obama’s energy policies

Steven K. Paulson
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – President Barack Obama wants a climate change bill that addresses his top priorities: energy independence, job creation and preventing pollution, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Thursday.

Salazar joined Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey and Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, at a forum to talk about President Barack Obama’s clean-energy policies.

The Clean Energy Economy Forum in Fort Collins was one of the first to promote Obama’s vision for a comprehensive energy plan to jump-start the American clean energy sector.

“President Obama’s vision is that we need to address all of these issues. How we do that is the art of what’s possible in Congress. This is an issue where the very future of our children and planet are hanging in peril. Our goal is to get energy and climate change legislation that is workable,” Salazar said.

He said the administration doesn’t want to pick and choose over issues like carbon pollution.

The climate change bill, which narrowly passed the House earlier this summer, imposes the first limits on greenhouse gases. It eventually would lead to an 80 percent reduction by putting a price on each ton of climate-altering pollution.

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However, the Democratic-controlled House approved the bill by a slim margin, and Senate Democrats say changes will be necessary to clear that chamber.

Salazar didn’t say exactly what administration officials want to see kept or changed in the House bill. But the former Democratic senator said the president is committed to getting it done.

Boulder County Commissioner Will Toor said the federal government needs to eliminate some of the barriers to developing renewable energy. He said the federal government needs to approve bonding that would allow lower interest rates and set up a federal loan program.

Toor said better financing would help move renewable energy from pilot projects “to a tool that is potentially a game changer.”

Sutley said climate change is “one of the big issues of our time” and renewable energy is a major part of the solution. She said the United States is now spending billions of dollars on research and development.

“The next step is to make sure America leads,” she said.