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Western governors focusing on energy

JULIE SUTOR
summit daily news

BRECKENRIDGE ” Just as the U.S. Senate dug into the federal energy bill in Washington Tuesday, high-profile political leaders and energy experts tackled the issue in Summit County.

Energy ” its production, efficiency, transmission, environmental impacts and demand ” was top on the list of issues at the final session of the Western Governors’ Association Annual Meeting held at Great Divide Lodge.

Energy secretary Samuel Bodman delivered the keynote address, urging western leaders to support President Bush’s energy plan, asserting the legislation would make the U.S. less dependent on foreign sources of fuel.

“The states you represent are home to many of our nation’s most vital energy resources,” Bodman said.

Environmentalists blast the plan, arguing it blocks needed progress on climate change and funnels billions of taxpayer dollars to fossil fuel industries.

Bodman’s visit to the Western Governors’ Association three-day gathering in Breckenridge was part of the secretary’s “Energizing America for Energy Security” tour this summer, during which he and other Department of Energy representatives will stump in support of Congressional action on the administration’s energy plan before Congress’ August recess.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a former U.S. Energy Secretary, pressed Bodman on how the department could help Western States in the storage and transmission of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.

“Wind and solar energy are abundant throughout the West. How could the department assist, beyond the regulatory process, to push the transmission issue for wind and solar?” Richardson asked.

The Governors’ Association adopted a resolution pledging to “work on policies and projects” that would enhance and diversify energy development in the West.

The governors also hosted a panel on North American energy independence, during which energy experts discussed new technologies and policy solutions to energy problems.

Bret Clayton, president of Kennecott Energy, a Wyoming-based coal-mining company, said his company is looking at “near-zero” emissions generation.

“Coal is extremely abundant ” it’s a secure and reliable baseload,” Clayton said. “We need to look at technologies that will improve the environmental value of coal.”

The Department of Energy is engaged in several carbon sequestration initiatives and research projects in an effort to develop technologies that capture and isolate emissions that would otherwise contribute to global warming.

Panelist Robert Ebel, energy program chairman for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that tackling global energy challenges will prove difficult, since the American public lacks passion on the issue.

Ebel ridiculed a typical American who drives to a clean energy demonstration in an SUV and demands clean air and cheap gasoline.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or at jsutor@summitdaily.com.


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