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Colorado Governor Stresses Renewables, Environment in State-of-State Address

Reflecting a more sanguine view of his state's oil/natural gas sector than in recent years, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper stressed renewables, sustainability and the environment in the brief energy portion of his state-of-the-state address in Denver Thursday.

"Upholding the highest public health and environmental standards, while promoting innovative energy development, is a cornerstone of our energy strategy," Hickenlooper told a gathering of state and local elected officials and staff in the 131-year-old state Capitol. He stressed moving toward a "cleaner, more sustainable energy future that is as reliable as what we have now."

None of the rancor from the recent past regarding local control of oil and natural gas activity (see Shale Daily, March 5, 2015) or increased state regulations for hydraulic fracturing (fracking) or methane emissions (see Daily GPI, Feb. 24, 2014) was addressed this year by Hickenlooper. "Colorado has already risen to the challenge," he said, noting 800 new solar industry and 350 wind energy jobs added to the state.

"As we nurture the growth of renewables in Colorado, we will continue to work with the oil/gas industry to innovate ways to safely and efficiently get resources out of the ground," said the two-term governor, who took some credit for the state's risk-taking innovators and the robustness of Colorado's economy compared to when he came into office six years ago.

"Well before the [Obama administration’s] Clean Power Plan was formalized, we harnessed Colorado innovations to expand renewable energies, and we brokered groundbreaking methane regulations and fracking disclosure rules."

Hickenlooper said the state's energy, environmental and economic issues are "all interconnected," and are important parts of the Colorado climate plan released last fall.

While dwelling on the state's $40 billion agricultural industry and expanding the state transportation system, Hickenlooper did not talk much about the state's oil/gas industry, which a recent University of Colorado business school report showed has a $31.7 billion positive impact on the state (see Daily GPIDec. 30, 2015).

Even with Colorado's dependence on the mineral extraction industries and the current low global energy commodity prices, Hickenlooper projected the state's economy to "grow steadily" as it remains "one of the best places for business and careers, for quality of life, and for health and tourism."

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