Denver -- Colorado State Senator Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Energy and Environment, opened the panel's first hearing today with the following remarks:
“There has been much attention and speculation about this committee and the work it will do in the coming months so I thought I would make a statement to open our first presentation. There will be no questions until the end of any presentation.
As committee chairmen, let me clear up a few myths, and in some cases hysteria, about what the scope of our work will be.
Colorado has been at the epicenter of energy development in this country since well before my time in the legislature. Some may recall that the naval oil shale reserves were in my hometown of Rifle, Colorado, back in the 1950s. Others may be aware that there was a nuclear test, thousands of feet underground, near Parachute, Colorado, in the 1970’s -- which was an extreme form of fracking to say the least. And we are all aware of the important role that mineral extraction and energy development have played virtually everywhere in Colorado, since almost as far back as the state’s founding.
And energy is as central to Colorado’s story now as it ever was. Today, with trillions of cubic feet of natural gas, millions of barrels of oil and natural gas liquids, along with thousands of wind turbines and solar panels, we boast one of the most diverse energy portfolios and economies in the United States. It’s an asset and advantage that most other states, and even many countries, would envy.
Depending on your ideology, this places us either at the forefront of an energy revolution, or at the end of our existence as a planet, or somewhere in between.
Regardless of your political stripes, one thing is undeniable…Colorado is a leader in energy production and technology. Some 270 companies, across virtually all energy sectors, call Colorado home, and directly account for almost 200,000 jobs. As one major driver of the state’s economy, energy generates nearly $15 billion in wages and taxes – and government revenue, lest we forget -- each year.
This committee is charged with the responsibility of reviewing facts, not trafficking in fictions or far-fetched fears. We’re here to deal with substance, not spin. We see our role not as indoctrination, one way or another, but as education, so elected officials and average citizens can make policy decisions in a reasoned, sensible, reality-based way.
We want everyone in Colorado to fully understand each energy sector; what it means to the each citizen; what those revenues do for our infrastructure and our community development; and how energy will impact our state budget in the future.
Today the facts are right in front of us. And tomorrow, a new President of the United States will be sworn in, like it or not, bringing a new set of policies and priorities from those we’ve seen – and suffered under, in my opinion – during the past eight years. That’s what elections are for: to reevaluate where we’ve been and make course corrections where necessary, reflecting the will of the voters. There’s no doubt there will be some potentially major course corrections in the days, months and years ahead – to the delight of some and dismay of others. Elections have consequences, as the saying goes. And this committee was created to help Colorado make those course corrections, and deal with those consequences, good or bad, in light of changing circumstances in Washington.
We will gather as much information as possible on all energy sectors, present various options and opportunities and scenarios, then let Coloradans decide, along with us, what our energy future should look like. We’ll ask how we can continue producing the reliable, affordable, preferably-homegrown energy on which a modern society depends, while also protecting the beautiful natural landscapes and environmental amenities for which Colorado is deservedly famous.
Some seem to believe those goals – a vibrant energy economy and a healthy and safe environment – are fundamentally in conflict with each other and can't be reconciled. Some say we must sacrifice the former in order to secure the latter. I don’t believe that. I believe we can have both – and in fact have had both since the state’s founding – and can achieve a sensible balance that will make Colorado a national model for simultaneously protecting our economy and our environment. But we’ll know much more about whether that’s true as the committee’s work unfolds.
This will not be a forum for argument, but for education, and I will not allow grandstanding that strays from the facts and reasoned analysis that Coloradans need in order to make informed energy decisions.
Many in this building and throughout Colorado have congratulated you, the members of this committee, for having the courage to actually set aside political partisanship and let the facts make the decisions, not special interest groups.
With that said, let’s begin."
Best wishes on rooting out this antiscientific fraud that denies affordable energy to the poorest people in the world. I’ll ask my senator, Mr. Smallwood, to support you.
Richard C. Savage