Colorado senators get low grades from green groups |

Colorado senators get low grades from green groups

Jane Stebbins

SUMMIT COUNTY<Colorado environmentalists are none too impressed with U.S. Senators Wayne Allard and Ben Nighthorse-Campbell and their voting records on energy issues.According to an “energy report card” released by the Sierra Club and the Colorado Public Interest Research Group (CoPIRG), both Colorado senators failed to vote in favor of legislation that would help the environment.”The Senate has failed to make the grade for a smarter, cleaner and more secure energy future,” said Steve Smith, associate Southwest regional representative for the Sierra Club. “Our senators have earned particularly low marks for their votes against improving the fuel efficiency of our vehicles and against expanding the nation’s use of renewable energy sources.”The two groups cited intense lobbying efforts by energy companies as reasons why the bills failed. And, some bills that passed raised environmentalists’ ire.One bill, approved 78-21 in the Senate, will extend the life of nuclear power plants by allowing the industry to extend its liability insurance if there were to be a nuclear accident. It also provides money to build more nuclear power plants by 2010.A 62-38 vote in the Senate stripped a provision to eliminate vehicle safety standards from the energy bill and reduce oil dependency. Another amendment the Senate will examine this year would exempt pickup trucks from future increases in fuel economy standards.Another amendment died in the Senate on a 72-29 vote. It would have increased the percentage of electricity generated from renewable sources to 20 percent by 2020. Senators also accepted a change in that bill that could allow more logging in national forests and more toxic mercury-emitting garbage incinerators.Another issue Allard and Campbell voted in favor of, Smith said, is one that will allow oil and gas explorers to suspend regulations that protect underground water sources while studies are under way to ensure energy extraction hasn’t affected groundwater.”Sens. Allard and Campbell voted wrong on every one of those issues,” Smith said. “We hope they’ll do better on the next votes.”Other issues the watchdog groups said they weren’t pleased with include drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and protecting Colorado’s roadless lands. Discussion of oil drilling in the refuge continues April 9.”They should listen to the majority of Americans who oppose drilling and support protecting this national treasure,” Smith said.Smith said the two organizations would like to see legislation that helps Americans reduce their dependence on oil, guarantee at least 10 percent of electricity supplies come from renewable energy resources, cut subsidies to polluters and ensure a reliable and consumer-friendly electric system.Jane Stebbins can be reached at 668-3998 ext. 228 or

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