Business leaders ask Congress to show backbone on dirty coal

Conference call speakers depict climate change's impact

| Feb 20, 2010

Leaders from Colorado’s business and tourism industry firmly expressed their opposition Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010, to congressional efforts to weaken the Clean Air Act and urged the U.S. Senate to pass a comprehensive clean energy jobs bill in 2010.

The leaders spoke during a conference call organized by 1Sky Colorado. The call was part of a 1Sky-organized nationwide effort this week to shine a spotlight on attempts to weaken the ability to use the Clean Air Act to crack down on dirty coal plants.

Author Parkin at pre-Copenhagen rally

“As businesses, we know that addressing climate change is critical, both for the future of our planet and as a way to jumpstart our economy” said Dane Cobble, a utility consultant and founder of Sol Partners. “It’s about economic security – we should be making a bold move to clean green renewable energy and that’s why using the Clean Air Act to crack down on dirty coal plants is so important.” 

At issue are current congressional efforts sponsored by Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to nullify the Clean Air Act’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from dirty coal-fired power plants.

“The hundreds of thousands of dollars that Lisa Murkowski has received from polluting interests make it clear who really benefits from this action,” said 1Sky Colorado Organizer Micah Parkin, referring to the almost $400,000 that Murkowski has received from the oil and gas and utility industries since late 2008.

“We are very concerned that the dialogue that Murkowski is supporting has the priorities wrong – investing in climate solutions is profitable and creates jobs,” said Paul Sheldon with Natural Capitalism Incorporated, a Longmont-based consulting business. “Investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy could generate $440 million in economic development in Colorado and as many as 20,000 new jobs.”

Threat to life and business

Entrepreneur Dan Friedlander, who has founded and co-founded many clean tech companies and serves on the Colorado Clean Tech Industry Association Board, said, “We already have a tremendous amount of activity and opportunity. The effort to gut the clean air act is a threat to our life as we know it and a threat to business.”

“There are federal lawmakers who are ignoring the science and health experts for short term political gain,” said George Danellis, Principle of The Vector Group, a Steamboat Springs-based consulting firm. “Investments in clean energy would spur innovation and generate economic growth.”

“Colorado is a climate state,” said Auden Shendler of Aspen Skiing Company. “Colordo’s economy is climate dependent—whether it’s fishing or hunting, skiing, hiking, ranching or river rafting. At the same time, we’re teed up for solutions, with great sun and wind resources, and a growing green tech industry.”

CO2 and winter sports industry

“We represent people who love winter sports and many in the associated industries,” said Chris Steinkamp with Protect our Winters. “Limiting CO2 is the crux of this issue.”

Murkowski has signaled that she will likely push for a vote on the issue when the Senate is back in session in March. The John Roberts-led Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that the federal government has a duty to regulate greenhouse gases under the auspices of the Clean Air Act. In early 2009, the Obama administration started the process to comply with the Supreme Court ruling and utilize the Clean Air Act.