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Scott TiptonScott TiptonJune 13, 20185min538

Western Colorado is home to vast natural resources that can and will power the economy through the 21st century and beyond if responsibly developed. It is the role of the federal government to monitor and manage the development of natural resources, which is why I recently hosted a House Natural Resources field hearing along with Chairman Rob Bishop to explore some of the untapped resources available on the Western Slope, and identify the steps that we can take to responsibly utilize them. 


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Tom RamstackTom RamstackJanuary 21, 20186min663
WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans argued for a change in regulations during a hearing Friday that would increase the likelihood for a natural gas pipeline from Colorado’s Western Slope to an export facility on the Oregon coast. They are considering legislation that would make the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) the final decision-maker for approval of […]

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Tom RamstackTom RamstackDecember 13, 20176min491
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner on Tuesday advocated for streamlined government permits to encourage natural gas extraction from Colorado to export markets. During a Senate hearing, Gardner, a Republican from Yuma, questioned an administrator from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission about how to break a deadlock that has impeded the Jordan Cove Energy Project in Oregon. […]

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Paula NoonanPaula NoonanSeptember 8, 20174min667

A recent poll conducted by Chris Keating of Keating Research, a polling and survey firm that consults primarily for Democrats including Gov. John Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, reveals that Colorado’s political environment parallels the nation’s, but preferences on energy issues are distinctly Coloradan.  The results come from 605 active voters, with a margin of error at 4 percent, plus or minus.

As with the country as a whole, Coloradans hold President Donald Trump at 40% favorable to 58% unfavorable, and give Gov. John Hickenlooper a 60% favorable to 32% unfavorable rating.  Numbers are more contrasting at the Very Unfavorable level, with 51% Very Unfavorable for Trump and 19% Very Unfavorable for Hickenlooper.

Since Keating works mostly for the left side of the aisle, it’s important to look at his call list.  He called 48% men and 52% women.  His age range was 18-24 at 10% up to 70+ at 15%.  Voters with children age 18 or younger comprised 27% of the sample and the split by party affiliation was 25% Democrat, 26% Republican, and 45% Independent. Colorado’s active voter registration actually divides almost equally at 32% Dem to 32% GOP to 36% Unaffiliated.

Happily, the survey shows that 64% of Coloradans think the state is headed in the “right direction” with 28% favoring the down side.

The poll’s main purpose was to explore voter commitment to four energy types as sources for development: coal, wind, solar and natural gas.  It sought especially to pinpoint voters’ views on what energy sources should increase or decrease in use.  Coloradans now have a dim view of coal, with 57% of respondents saying its use should decrease and only 18% choosing to increase its use.  Wind (+76%) and especially solar (+84%) showed the most support for increased use, with natural gas at +36%.

The survey suggests that Coloradans from both political parties want public utilities to collaborate on reducing carbon emissions: 89% agree/11% disagree.  Voters want the state to work with utilities to increase the use of clean renewable energy at 95% agree/5% disagree.  Almost 50% of voters support increasing the state’s 30% renewable energy standard to over 50%.  Most Coloradans (83%) want to take control of their energy future without waiting for the federal government to jump in.

The polling numbers indicate that Xcel’s recent decisions to add more renewable energy to its portfolio makes sense.  Closing coal plants is apparently generally acceptable to Coloradans.

Clearly, renewable solar and wind power are popular. Natural gas is holding its own despite opposition to drilling from some cities along the northern Front Range.

These results have implications for the 2018 governor and legislator races on both Democratic and Republican sides.  Democratic candidates can feel comfortable promoting more renewables.  The effect of fracking vs. anti-fracking positions on voter preference is less clear.

Republicans face a different picture in the primaries and general election.  Anti-climate change Republicans may be in sync with a majority in their party during the primary season.  But that position is deeply out of sync with a majority of voters who will cast ballots in the general election.

One other interesting set of data.  While 45% of the polled population identified as independent voters, only 25% viewed themselves as moderates.  These individuals were outnumbered by liberals at 34% and conservatives at 38%. It appears there’s a muddy middle spectrum of voters, a minority, who support reduced-carbon energy policy.  They will make a difference in how the general election turns out.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchAugust 24, 20174min377

Last weekend subscribers read in Colorado Politics’ Insights column about the threats a federal study of the energy grid, expected to bolster coal, posed for our state, rich in renewable energy programs and natural gas.

The report was released Wednesday night, and as expected it said the grid needs to be fed by reliable coal because killing the market for it threatens the reliability of the power grid.

That part wasn’t surprising from a Trump administration that promised to return coal mining jobs to Colorado to make energy and steel. Trump promised that before the election in Pueblo, a town that knows steel jobs and high energy prices.

The 187-page report, however, said it’s economics killing the coal market. It isn’t regulations or renewables, despite what Republican politicians, allege but cheaper, abundant natural gas. Colorado sits on a huge supply of that.

Insights: Rick Perry’s energy grid study holds shocks for Colorado

The remedy, according to the report: ease up the regulations on coal-fired power plants, even as plants have been replaced across the country by gas-fired plants and broad investments in renewable energy programs.

In 2004 Colorado lawmakers ordered investor-owned utilities to get 30 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020, and two Democratic candidates for governor, Jared Polis and Mike Johnston, have vowed to drive toward 100 percent by 2040.

Jim Alexee, the Sierra Club’s Colorado chapter director, told Colorado Politics that the state is getting far more jobs out of renewable energy than it currently gets from mining.

“If politics or corporate special interests make their way into the final report, energy customers here in Colorado may well be left on the hook to prop up expensive coal plants that cannot compete with cleaner, cheaper alternatives,” he said. “We should listen to the scientists, not corporate special interests.”

Perry requested the 60-day study in April, and environmentalists and energy officials alike have been awaiting its delayed release.

The move away from coal to new, cleaner gas-powered electricity generation is cited as a reason for soaring energy prices in Pueblo and other communities in Colorado served by Black Hills Energy.

Gov. John Hickenlooper and President Barack Obama introduced plans and regulations to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, a culprit of climate change. Their policies discouraged investments in coal-fired power plants for the sake of solar and wind projects.

Hundreds of old plants and dozens of nuclear reactors have closed.