Interview with Senator Mark Udall
We spoke with Sen. Mark Udall about the importance of maintaining Colorado's status as a clean energy leader, and other important steps to preserve the places we love in Colorado. An edited version of this conversation appeared in our Summer, 2012 newsletter.
Why is clean energy so essential for Colorado?
With the wind on the Eastern Plains, the sun in the Valley and the great minds at our top-notch colleges and universities – not to mention our federal labs and the natural gas and coal supplies across the state – Colorado is leading the way on clean energy. The clean energy industry holds tremendous economic potential for Colorado as new jobs, technologies and businesses are created. And focusing on clean energy production can also strengthen our national security and help provide cleaner water and air to all Americans.
What is the most important step Congress can take to support Colorado's clean energy future? How would these steps affect the average Coloradan?
Every time I am in Colorado, I am amazed at what Coloradans are already doing to support our clean energy future, from creating community solar opportunities to opening wind tower manufacturing plants. Colorado has been a national leader on clean energy policies, like our renewable portfolio standard, and all Coloradans should work to make sure we continue to lead. I’m working in Congress to export Colorado’s good ideas to rest of the country – that’s why I’ve been fighting to enact a national Renewable Electricity Standard as well as provide business certainty to Colorado companies by extending key energy tax credits, like the wind production tax credit. I’ve also been working to encourage the Department of Defense to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.
What are the most pressing threats to Colorado's beautiful open spaces?
Our population is expected to double by 2050, and we need to be proactive so that future generations can experience the beauty, clean water and air, and wildlife that we have today. For me, and so many Coloradans, the outdoors is an important part of our quality of life. It's where we recreate, hunt and fish, and find excitement or peace of mind. And, for many farmers and ranchers, outfitters, restaurateurs, hotel owners and other small businessmen, preservation of our state's majestic mountains and valleys is vital for our livelihoods. That is why I continue to fight for full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and why I support extending a crucial tax incentive for people who donate a conservation easement on their farms, ranches, or other open spaces. In addition, I have just launched a collaborative, community-driven process that I hope will ultimately allow Colorado to create legislation for wilderness and national monument designations in two areas – 236,000 acres of additional wilderness in the Central Mountains and up to 22,000 acres along the Arkansas River and Browns Canyon.