Denver -- An expected shake-up in Washington also is reverberating through Colorado's Statehouse, where Senate President-Elect Kevin Grantham (R-Canon City) is creating a Select Committee on Energy and the Environment to shoulder some of the increased workload an evolving relationship with Washington could bring.
Grantham picked Senator Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction), from Colorado's energy-rich Western Slope, to chair the panel. Also appointed were Senators John Cooke (R-Greeley) and Senator-Elect Kevin Priola (R-Brighton), both of whom serve energy-impacted districts.
Senator Scott announced the committee's creation in Denver Tuesday, while speaking at the Colorado Petroleum Council. He said the panel would be free to hold hearings on a wide range of energy and environmental issues facing Colorado, especially in light of expected policy changes from the Trump administration.
"Colorado's already well known for our passionate interest in all issues related to energy and the environment, so this seems like a logical response to the growing demand we see for more study, deeper discussion and innovative policy ideas," said Scott. "The changes in attitude and approach we're expecting from the Trump administration will only add to the importance and relevance of the work this select committee will do."
Any legislation the new panel generates still must be heard by the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee, Grantham pointed out, so that committee, chaired by Senator Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling), remains the committee of reference on these issues. The select committee will help handle an increased workload while expanding the scope of possible investigation and debate.
"There's enough work to keep both committee's extremely busy, given the intense public interest these issues generate and the changing regulatory landscape we're likely to see in the future," said Grantham. "The select committee will augment and enhance our ability to look at these issues in a broader way, and at greater depth. It's also a reflection of the primary importance Senate Republicans place on these issues, which hold the key to Colorado's economic and environmental well being."
"Energy is one of the two or three top economic engines driving Colorado's economy, so we must find a way to support those jobs and revenues while also protecting the natural places that make Colorado special," added Senator Cooke. "Reliable and affordable energy are too important to Colorado's energy consumers and business climate to not pursue a truly all-of-the-above approach, which includes coal, oil and gas, renewables and maybe even nuclear. It's time to put Colorado energy consumers first by embracing energy policies guided by practical reality, not extreme ideology."
Senator-elect Kevin Priola said he was "honored" to be selected for the committee, which he sees as critical to keeping Colorados economy and environment in a healthy balance. "Colorado's history shows that economic development and environmental stewardship go hand in hand, which is why this is a great place to work as well as live," said Priola. "I hope my work on this committee helps Colorado continue that tradition."