State Senate candidates go green | AspenTimes.com

State Senate candidates go green

John Colson

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

The two candidates vying to represent Pitkin County in the state Senate this week both signed on to a document being touted as “a comprehensive new energy plan for Colorado.”

Sen. Lewis Entz, R-Hooper, and his challenger, Democrat Gail Schwartz of Snowmass Village, both endorsed the “Plan for Colorado’s Energy Future,” according to a statement they released on Oct. 5.

According to the Coalition for Colorado’s New Energy Future, the signing of the plan means both have pledged to work toward the goals the document outlined.

“Both Sen. Lewis Entz and Gail Schwartz understand that it’s time we used our technological resources and natural advantages to reduce dependence on foreign oil, grow the economy, reduce people’s energy bills and protect our environment,” said the coalition’s campaign chairman, Mike Bowman, a farmer from Wray.

Entz, said by phone he had not yet “digested” the plan completely.

But, he said, “My deal is it’s something we need to take a look at. It could be good for my district.”

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Asked for details, he said he had none yet and explained, “When they throw something at you real fast, it’s hard to digest it.” He said he would be reading and contemplating the plan in the near future.

Schwartz, also by phone, said the energy issue is “a big item for me.” She noted her candidacy’s recent endorsement by the Colorado Conservation Voters group and her endorsement of the national “25 x 25 Renewable Energy Initiative,” which is shooting to have renewable sources meet 25 percent of the nation’s energy needs by 2025.

“These are great opportunities for the fifth Senate district,” she said, citing the economic development potential for farmers to grow biodiesel products, and for the use of beetle-killed trees as biomass to produce energy,” and “very significant opportunities … for wind generation” in parts of the 11-county district.

The coalition, according to a written statement, consists of “nonpartisan … agricultural, labor, environmental and business groups.”

The document outlines a four-point plan that calls on the state to double its use of renewable energy sources such as the wind and the sun, and to double the use of alternatives to oil such as ethanol and biodiesel fuels.

Representatives of the state’s farmers, specifically corn growers, noted that the state has an abundance of potential sources of biodiesel and ethanol, as well as “the potential to generate 11 times as much energy as we currently use just from wind power alone,” said Lee Swenson, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union.

Others enthusiastic about the plan point to other potential benefits, such as a reduction in the burning of fossil fuels.

“Our plan will reduce global warming by 12 million tons per year while still providing clean, affordable energy,” declared Will Coyne, program director for Environment Colorado.

John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com