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Bipartisanship on energy? Thank Sen. Ray Scott

Author: Joey Bunch - February 26, 2018 - Updated: February 26, 2018

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Sen. Ray ScottSen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, speaks to reporters about his bill to preserve the Colorado Energy Office. (Photo by Joey Bunch/Colorado Politics)

Here’s something you don’t hear often enough: Thank you, Ray Scott.

The rock-ribbed Republican senator from Grand Junction is a political slugger, but he’s found a soft side to get Democrats to the table on energy issues this session. He also is as strong an advocate for oil and gas, along with coal, as you apt to find in the General Assembly.

Last week, two Scott bills, both substantive, advanced with the strong support of Democrats.

Senate Bill 3 preserves the Colorado Energy Office and ensures it’s not overly focused on renewable sources. The legislation passed the Senate, 34-1, on Thursday — to the relief of most Democrats and environmental proponents hoping to keep the state’s hand, and dollars, in promoting renewable energy.

The only no vote in the upper chamber was Sen. Matt Jones, a Democrat from Louisville who leads the Senate Democrats’ efforts on clean air and renewable energy. He thinks the stay should keep its focus on energy sources for the future, and take position on fossil fuels effect on public health.

Scott said the landslide vote was the product of months of negotiations about what the office should be.

“Colorado is blessed to be an energy powerhouse among states, with a diversity of options available to us that other states can only envy, yet for too long our Energy Office was almost exclusively focused on a few technologies and ignoring all the others,” Scott said in a statement. “An all-of-the-above energy state needs and all-of-the-above energy office, which is what we’ll finally have if this bill continues to gain steam.”

The same day, the Senate Transportation Committee passed a bill, on a bipartisan vote, to toughen the state’s laws on contractors and excavators, working around energy and utility lines. Since the fatal explosion of a gas line in Firestone last year, Democrats have been calling for more regulations to safeguard the public from energy and utility lines, so this is bipartisan win on a partial solution, if it makes it into law.

The effort didn’t start with Firestone, however. Scott said he and Donovan had been working on it for 20 months with 58 stakeholders.

“This has been the most difficult and technical measure I have worked in my seven years in the building,” Scott stated.

The left can go back to hating him for his more conservative energy positions after this.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.