A plan for state’s ‘New Energy Future’
As most Coloradans, especially western Coloradans, are all too aware, oil and gas development is having a major impact on wildlife habitat and water quality.In 2005, 4,363 applications for permits to drill were approved by the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. That is 50 percent more permits than were approved in 2004, and 94 percent more permits than were approved in 2003.During the drilling, production, and maintenance of wells, hazardous chemicals are released into the air, injected or leaked into the ground, and run off into our rivers and streams. This pollutes the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the communities in which we live. We’re also losing some of our best wilderness areas and hunting grounds to our current “drill-at-any-cost” approach.Demand for energy and fears of dependence on unstable Middle East oil are driving this boom. Colorado has oil and natural gas resources everybody across the United States wants to fuel our cars and heat our homes. The oil and gas industry is all too happy to get them out and turn a nice buck in the process. The problem is that even if all of Colorado’s oil and gas resources are produced, this won’t even come close to solving our energy problem. Federal data shows that Colorado only has enough proven oil reserves to fuel the United States for 11 days, and proven natural gas reserves to fuel the United States for 228 days. Obviously, we need to look in a new direction to address our energy situation. Here in Colorado we can do better and enact secure, clean and affordable solutions to the problems of high fuel costs, unreliable energy supplies, and global climate change. And, we can do it without sacrificing the health of our air, lands, waters and communities.”The Plan for Colorado’s New Energy Future” would put Colorado in the driver’s seat. With a statewide commitment to four simple steps, we can power our own future, and help to bring the rest of the county along for the ride. First, Colorado should also establish a Renewable Fuels Standard that will facilitate 10 percent of our transportation fuels coming from biofuels by 2015. This will help build a Colorado biofuel industry and bring next-generation fuels, like cellulosic ethanol, to market. Second, Colorado should increase the Renewable Energy Standard to 20 percent by 2015. Colorado is on pace to get 10 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2008. Given the growing commitment of energy companies and Colorado’s farmers and ranchers to harness Colorado’s vast wind and solar potential, we can definitely double that target. Third, Colorado should create incentives for utility companies to reduce electricity and natural gas use 10 percent by 2015 by promoting the use of more efficient appliances and expanding energy efficiency programs. Colorado currently has the technology and the know-how to use far less energy. Finally, Colorado should invest in this bold new direction by pouring more public and private dollars into further research and development of new energy technologies that will continue to power our future, create more new good jobs, grow our economy, save consumers money, and protect our environment.If Colorado’s energy future focuses more on efficiency and renewable sources of energy, we can avoid some of the most high-cost oil and gas production. The plan provides a real alternative for Colorado leaders that will increase our energy resources without sacrificing treasured lands such as the Roan Plateau.To learn more about “The Plan for Colorado’s New Energy Future,” and to see which recent candidates for state office endorsed it, visit http://www.coloradoenergyfuture.org.Stephanie Thomas is clean-water advocate for Environment Colorado, a statewide environmental advocacy organization that focuses on energy, global warming, land use and clean water.
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