Obama talks energy, climate and water | AspenTimes.com

Obama talks energy, climate and water

Rebecca Boyle
Greeley correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., buttons his jacket on the tarmac as he greets supporters before boarding his campaign charter plane in Denver, Colo. Monday, Sept. 29, 2008.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

GREELEY, Colo. ” Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama said Monday he would emphasize energy policies that focus on renewables, mitigate the effects of climate change and improve methods to extract the hydrocarbons that have helped sustain Colorado’s economy.

In an interview Monday with the Greeley Tribune, Obama praised Gov. Bill Ritter for championing a “new energy economy” that creates jobs and energy solutions.

“We will have to take some steps to bridge where we are now and where we need to be … but doing it in an environmentally sensitive way is absolutely critical,” he said. “I want to invest $15 billion a year on alternative energy, and on technologies that can mitigate some of the environmental consequences of extraction. We are going to need natural gas, we are going to need additional domestic oil production. And I think if we can do it right, there’s no reason why that can’t create millions of new energy jobs all across the economy.”

In the brief interview, Obama also said he would not consider renegotiating the Colorado River Compact, which governs water flow through seven western states.

His rival, Sen. John McCain, the Republican candidate, was quoted saying in August that he would consider revisiting the compact, drawing fire and brimstone from Republicans and Democrats alike. McCain later clarified his comments and said he meant that he hoped negotiations would continue as they have since the compact was forged 86 years ago.

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Obama said McCain erred in broaching that subject.

“That was a very difficult negotiation that balanced the interests of a lot of parties. The idea that we should reopen that, I think, makes no sense, and I don’t foresee reopening that compact when I’m president,” he said.

The compact dictates how much water goes to California, Arizona and Nevada from Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah. Growing communities in Arizona and southern California have clamored for more water, especially in the past decade of drought. But farms and cities on the Front Range of Colorado want to keep the water they already have.

Pressed on whether he would ever consider reopening the compact, Obama stayed firm.

“I think that you’ve got a lot of stakeholders here. What we need to focus on is water conservation, and spend a lot more time figuring out how we could use a whole variety of technologies to reduce the amount of water that is being used, period. That helps everybody,” he said. “But, you know, wading into a whole new process with winners and losers over what’s the most precious resource in the West, I think would be a mistake.”

Obama also discussed his plan to battle climate change, which could hurt mountain ski resorts and is already impacting forest ecology as the mountain pine beetle ravages drought-stricken lodgepole pines.

He also talked about the failure Monday of a $700 billion bipartisan plan to bail out ailing Wall Street firms.

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