Fitz-Gerald defines, defends her positions |

Fitz-Gerald defines, defends her positions

HARRIET HAMILTONsummit daily newsSummit County, CO Colorado
Summit Daily/Eric Drummond

FRISCO – An urgent need for independence from foreign sources of energy was the principal focus of former Colorado state Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald’s campaign swing through Summit and Eagle counties Thursday.Fitz-Gerald resigned her senate seat in November to concentrate on her run to replace Rep. Mark Udall in the U.S. House of Representatives. Udall has been Colorado’s 2nd District congressman since 1999, but is now seeking the U.S. Senate seat of retiring Republican Sen. Wayne Allard.Democrats have represented the 2nd District, which includes Summit, Eagle, Grand and Clear Creek counties, along with the city of Boulder and parts of several other Front Range counties, since 1975. Fitz-Gerald faces two other liberal Democrats – Jared Polis and Will Shafroth – in the 2008 primary. The former senator stopped for a brief interview in Frisco after addressing the Eagle County Democratic Women’s Forum on Thursday. Q: You were a strong supporter of environmental legislation requiring development of renewable energy in the Colorado Senate. What can you say about the renewable energy provisions of the bill currently being considered in Congress?

A: It’s exciting to think that they might start to move in this direction – just based on national security. To end reliance on fossil fuels would be a good thing – and to end reliance on fossil fuels from other countries. We all talk about the price of gas and we’re not including in the price of gas the price of a defense department budget of $629 billion. That defense department budget is keeping carriers in the Straits of Hormuz, keeping open the shipping lanes, making sure we have the ability to bring in fossil fuels from other nations. You’re not paying it directly in your gas prices, but you are securing shipping. Q: Senator Salazar was quoted this week as saying he would like to restrict natural gas drilling on the Roan Plateau and slow down moves by the federal government to pursue commercial oil shale development in western Colorado. Do you have any comment about that? A: I don’t know about oil shale, but I do know I got several calls from my constituents in the Hot Sulphur Springs area, that there were BLM bids all the sudden going out for development – without public comment or public input. There’s a feeling that this administration moved very suddenly to put stuff on the market that in the normal course of that kind of development would have been subject to more public scrutiny. It was not compatible usage between the Hot Sulphur Springs-Fraser-Tabernash areas. I think it’s important that we go forward with some caution… We’ve got to find a way to be compatible. Colorado has a very big interest in its energy resources. It’s part of our economy… We have to use them. But we also have a huge industry of tourism, and hunting, and a quality of life we want to protect. Q: Is the environment one particular area you’d like to provide leadership in if you were elected? A: I would be extremely interested in sitting on an energy subcommittee… I carried the energy bill here in Colorado last year. I’d be very interested in pursuing that… When I sit in Congress, it’s one of the things I have experience in – of forming coalitions to get the job done. I don’t think we have a choice. We’re 30 years behind on this. We should’ve been doing this the first time we had an oil crisis in this country. We’re not masters of our own destiny in foreign policy.

Q: So you made this trip today to speak to this particular issue? A: Yes. Everybody thinks “women’s issues” are child and education issues. Well, they may be, but we do have a responsibility to the world the children are going to grow up in. And what’s going to be expected of them in terms of their lifestyle? So they are issues about our future – and none so big as the Iraq War and the diversions of our resources and the national security problem of not having energy in this country. Q: Speaking of Iraq, you’ve been criticized recently by your primary opponents for voting in favor of two 2003 Colorado Senate resolutions that supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq. How do you reconcile those votes with your current position on Iraq? A: One (resolution) was to honor our troops, and our troops were about one month on the ground… It’s one of those things you do when your troops hit the ground on foreign soil and we wanted to be there for them. The other was about taking Saddam Hussein from power. Was that a good thing, on the balance? We were told he had weapons of mass destruction, and Colin Powell, who had great credibility, went to the U.N. and said they did… I think, being skeptical, there are things I would’ve preferred. One, that they would not do a pre-emptive war. Two, that they had proof that international inspectors were allowed to do their job, and it was certainly premature for them to have done what they did without proof that they actually had them… Yes, I voted for it, but it was not in support of the war. It’s a misconstruction of my record to say that. But I have a record, which is more than I can say for either of my opponents.

Q: And your position on Iraq now? A: Leave no troop behind. Now we’re an aggravating factor. I think we’re slowing down the stability of the government. The longer we stay, the civil conflicts become greater. We should be engaging European partners and nations around Iraq to help stabilize that government… I’m convinced there’s no military solution. It doesn’t matter whether you take five days, five months, five years, 50 years … the outcome is still the same. There was no military objective given when we got in, and it’s aggravating the region of the globe with a volatile effect. Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add? A: This district of Colorado is one that I’ve served in the state senate with a real sense of urgency that our problems can’t wait. We have to solve our problems in the state of Colorado. I’d have that same sense of urgency going to D.C…. You don’t have 10 or 20 years to turn this country around. Harriet Hamilton can be reached at

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