Colorado governor pushes for renewable energy in Washington |

Colorado governor pushes for renewable energy in Washington

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON ” Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter knew exactly what he was going to say when he and other governors met with President Bush Monday morning: Cutting funds for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is the wrong move.

Colorado Democrats, including Ritter, have condemned Bush’s 2008 spending proposal because it cuts the Golden, Colo., lab’s budget by 3 percent.

Even a small decrease would be “the wrong way to go” when the energy industry desperately needs research data on wind, solar and other renewable sources, Ritter said during a renewable energy conference.

“The wrong direction would be to in any way reduce funding,” he said. “Thinking about it now will make such a difference in 20 or 30 years.”

He promised to argue for the lab with Bush in a meeting later in the day. He also planned to lobby Bush for money for the Colorado National Guard to repair equipment.

Ritter, whose campaign last year pushed for clean energy, was speaking at a conference hosted by the Apollo Alliance, a coalition of labor, business and environmental groups lobbying for a renewable energy plan.

The group takes its name from Apollo 11, the first manned spaceship to land on the moon. Members argue the nation needs to make a similar effort to control greenhouse gases, which scientists say are warming the earth.

Ritter appeared with Democratic Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who said industry and the states will have to lead the nation to move away from dependence on oil. The Bush administration opposes mandatory caps on the greenhouse gases, while several states and even energy companies are pushing to create a national plan to reduce emissions.

Ritter and Patrick said developing renewable energy will create hundreds of new jobs. Patrick promised to make Massachusetts the renewable energy capital, while Ritter countered that Colorado was “going to arm-wrestle you for those jobs.”

With a nod to union groups represented at the conference, Ritter pledged that many of those jobs in Colorado would go to organized labor. The governor angered unions two weeks ago when he vetoed a measure that would have made it easier to set up all-union workplaces.

Ritter backs bills in the Legislature that would require utilities to generate 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020 and that would help expand transmission lines, now a barrier to expanding the use of wind and other renewables.

Still, Colorado lags behind some states, including California, which passed the nation’s first law imposing mandatory emissions caps.

California’s law seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

The governors of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington agreed Monday to develop a regional target to lower greenhouse gases and create a program aimed at helping businesses reach the still-undecided goals.

Other states are working on similar efforts.

Earlier this month, New Jersey became the second state to set rigorous goals similar to California’s when Gov. Jon S. Corzine signed an executive order committing the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by 2020 ” or to 1990 levels ” and 80 percent by 2050.

Carbon dioxide produced from the burning of fossil fuels is a significant source of greenhouse gases. U.S. emissions have increased an average of about 1 percent year since 1990.

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