Polis Promises ‘Fair’ Shake For O&G Energy Workers As Colorado Moves To Renewable Energy Goals
Gov. Jared Polis outlined his vision for Colorado’s energy future in his State of the State address Thursday at the Capitol.
Polis, speaking to both houses of the Colorado General Assembly, declared that it was “time for us to take meaningful action to address the conflicts between oil and gas drilling operators and the neighborhoods that they impact. We will work to make sure that every community has clean air and clean water, and this is a vital quality of life issue for Colorado families.”
“They have a right to have a voice when it comes to industrial activities within their borders that affect their quality of life and economic vitality,” Polis said.
Polis devoted a significant portion of his address to the subject of climate change, we he proposed was an opportunity to “take advantage of the opportunities associated with being a leader in the growing green energy economy.”
“Climate change is a scientific reality. It’s real. There’s no pretending otherwise for the farmers and ranchers who are facing historic water shortages. There’s no pretending otherwise for the 46,000 man and women who work in the Colorado ski industry and see their jobs threatened by decreased snow pack,” Polis added.
Polis cited his campaign platform of pushing Colorado toward 100 percent renewable energy by 2040, arguing that by addressing climate change, the switch to renewables would usher in cheaper energy and more green jobs.
[I]t’s about making the future work for us,” Polis said. While the governor was light on specifics, he added that grid modernization and a streamlined regulatory process would “accelerate market investments” to reach the renewables goal, which includes electrification of the state’s transportation system, including cars, buses, and trucks.
With several municipalities and utility giant Xcel Energy on board, Polis touted, “We’re already leading the way forward right here in Colorado and we will work every day to build on that process.”
Polis acknowledged the disruption that an aggressive policy move to renewables would present, and thanked them, promising current energy workers a “fair” outcome and “just transition” to a green economy.
“You know, make no mistake, with price declines and technological advances, the move toward renewable energy is already taking place, and it will only accelerate, but as we embrace the renewable energy future, we also need to do right by the men and women in today’s energy workforce- some of the hardest working people in Colorado,” Polis said. “And, for the men and women who work in the coal and oil and gas industries, we will make sure that this future works for you.”
In states across the west—Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Wyoming—newly elected governors are beginning to transition their policy objectives from campaign rhetoric to policy implementation as the states launch their respective legislative sessions.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan-Grisham’s inaugural address on January 1 hinted at a similar climate change and clean energy push, with the state aiming for a more modest goal of 50 percent renewable energy by 2030. The state’s legislative calendar kicks off next week on January 15, when the governor will offer her state address.
The Nevada Legislature will also commence its biennial session next week, with Gov.-elect Steve Sisolak slated to speak on January 16. Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon delivered his first state of the state address on January 9.