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The Grand Junction Sentinel: Ritter plans sweeping climate-change initiative

By BOBBY MAGILL The Daily Sentinel
Sunday, October 14, 2007

Gov. Bill Ritter will unveil a major climate change action plan next month that will rely on the Legislature to enact new policies aimed at reducing the state’s influence on global warming, he said Saturday.

State governors at a recent Western Governors Association meeting agreed that climate change is real and that their states’ impact on the carbon content of the atmosphere must be reduced, Ritter said, speaking at the annual meeting of the Western Colorado Congress in Grand Junction.

Taking action on climate change, he said, is “an imperative.”

He said the climate change plan will be similar to those enacted in other states but with some important differences.

Ritter declined to say what kind of policy shift his climate change plan will involve.

More Coloradans are becoming concerned about climate change, and they’re beginning to talk about it, he said.

“Now in Colorado, we’re among people who get it,” Ritter said.

The governor threw a bone to the coal industry, saying he has never met a scientist who doesn’t agree that coal will be part of a future that relies on green energy sources.

The key, he said, is to make coal cleaner.

Ritter called on Congress to put money into investment tax credits for clean coal, calling it the “most important conversation we can have with Congress in 2007.”

Oil and natural gas are part of a traditional energy economy, he said, and their use must become more efficient.

“We will be stubborn stewards of the land, the air, the water and the wildlife,” he said.

That’s the reason, he said, he asked for more time to study the natural gas drilling plan for the Roan Plateau and called for the Vermillion Basin in Moffat County to be left completely untouched by drilling rigs.

Ritter said he has seen estimates showing there could be up to 50,000 new oil and gas wells drilled in northwest Colorado, and he wondered how the government can allow so many wells to be drilled and still leave pristine land in which future generations can freely roam.

Standing firm in his stance against accelerated commercial oil shale leasing in the region, he praised Royal Dutch Shell for withdrawing its permit application for experimenting with an in situ oil shale test on a Rio Blanco County federal oil shale research lease last summer.

Shell withdrew the application because it said it did not have enough confidence in a technology designed to keep groundwater out of rock that Shell plans to heat in order to extract hydrocarbons from oil shale underground.

Before the federal government begins issuing commercial oil shale leases, which is expected in 2008 or 2009, Coloradans must insist on knowing leasing’s impact on groundwater, air quality and big game in northwest Colorado, Ritter said.

“We’ve got to continue to be stubborn about the earth we’re about to hand over to our kids,” he said.

Ritter and his policies received a standing ovation from Western Colorado Congress members.

Bill Grant, the group’s president, praised Ritter’s environmental policies because they are keeping the Western Slope from “becoming a resource colony for big energy.”

http://www.gjsentinel.com/news/content/news/stories/2007/10/14/101407_1b_Ritter.html?cxtype=rss&cxsvc=7&cxcat=7

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