Here’s what I think about the topics that most affect our state and District 5. Click a topic to learn about each of the following issues:
- Protecting Our Region’s Water
- Renewable Energy
- Preserving Our Agricultural Heritage
- Education & Our Children
- Affordable Health Care For All
- Protecting Our Environment
- Sportsmen and Outdoors Enthusiasts
- Getting the Facts Straight on Energy
Protecting Our Region’s Water
“Not one drop!” is my motto. I strongly oppose any further diversion of water from Western Colorado’s rivers and streams to the Front Range. I understand that the Front Range population is growing, but so are we in rural Colorado. We must protect our water for our own agricultural, recreational and environmental needs. The future economic viability of the 5th Senate District absolutely depends on our water quality and quantity.
One of the greatest threats to Western and rural Colorado’s water was Referendum A, otherwise known as the “Great Aurora Water Grab.” Ref A was a blank check for water projects that would have inevitably required the diversion and storage of massive quantities of water from Western and rural Colorado to the Front Range. Fortunately, the voters of Colorado saw through the hype, and rejected that scheme overwhelmingly. Our senate district strongly and wisely defeated Ref A by a 4 to 1 margin. You can count on the fact that I will never vote to send our water to the Front Range.
Additionally, protecting the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink is fundamental to the job of state government. Every Colorado citizen is entitled to expect that their state legislators will vote to protect these vital life-sustaining values. You have my word on it!
Renewable energy is not a fad, it is our future. It is also vital to achieving energy independence, which in turn is central to our national security. As your State Senator, I do everything possible to create economic incentives and develop policies that will unleash the potential that renewable energy holds for the energy-rich counties of the 5th Senate District, including bio-fuels, bio-diesel, ethanol, hydro, wind and
Renewable energy holds tremendous potential for our agricultural communities. Agricultural byproducts can be used for the production and sale of bio-fuels. Everyday, the rising cost of oil
makes solar and wind power more economically viable. To deny the promise of alternative energy, and stifle the opportunities that come with it, makes no sense. As your State Senator, I pledge that we will do better. Find renewable energy references here.
Preserving Our Agricultural Heritage
If water is the lifeblood of rural Colorado, our agricultural communities are its soul. Yet today, many of these communities are struggling, as their water is being sold off the land, as land is being carved up for new subdivisions, and as today’s farm economics take their toll. The motto, “No farms, no food,” just about says it all. We must extend greater support to our agricultural communities with innovative policies and fiscal measures. Their survival, sustainability and success is inextricably linked to our own. I will do everything
possible in the State Senate to help agriculture in Colorado flourish, and ensure every opportunity that those dedicated to the land are able to pass their family farms and ranches with pride from one generation to the next. I have assembled a group of experts on water and agricultural issues from the many counties of our district and throughout the state who will advise me on these important issues while serving in the State Senate.
Education & Our Children
I have devoted a good portion of my life to improving and expanding educational opportunities for all Coloradans. Education is the key to economic opportunity. Our future is tied directly to the quality of education we provide to our children. We cannot begin to fulfill the potential of our young people, nor our vision for the future of our State, unless we invest generously and thoughtfully in preschool, full day kindergarten through 12th grade, and higher education.
It starts with ensuring access to better schools. It means smaller class sizes so that our children get the attention they deserve. It means expanding curricula, connectivity and on-line education so that rural Coloradans can go on to our trade schools, state colleges and universities prepared to compete in the global economy of the 21st century. And it means accountability to parents and taxpayers. Nothing is more important to Colorado’s future.
As a former Commissioner on the Colorado Commission for Higher Education, as Vice-Chair of the CU Board of Regents, as a long time advocate for local schools, as the mother of 3 college students, and as your State Senator, you can count on me to make education a top priority. I am committed to improving our public schools and ensuring that Colorado’s young people receive the best possible education in America. There is no reason for Colorado to settle for next to last in funding education yes, that’s where we currently stand when our kids deserve the best. That means ALL of our children. For nearly 10 years I have been a strong proponent of access and equity in education for children from our rural communities.
Affordable Health Care For All
Rural Coloradans should not have to settle for a quality of health care that is the least bit inferior to the care received by those who reside in more urban settings. Increased access to higher quality health care is one of my highest priorities. Whatever it takes — improved hospitals, clinics, tele-medicine, and policies which encourage doctors and nurses to locate and build their practices in rural Colorado — I am committed to bringing the highest quality health care to citizens in every corner of this district. Affordability is every bit as important as access, and I will fight to reduce the ever-increasing costs of health care and prescription drugs.
Protecting Our Environment
There is no state that is prouder of its physical environment than Colorado, and it is why most of us are drawn here. The state whose “fruited plains” and “purple mountains majesty” inspired “America the Beautiful,” deserves to be preserved and protected. The legacy of our public lands must be passed to future generations and I will work tirelessly in the State Senate to preserve it.
Unfortunately, today Colorado’s lands are under tremendous pressure. Unrelenting growth, aggressive energy development, federal lands up for grabs, and roadless areas on the chopping block — the pressure is unbelievable, and it’s not letting up. We cannot be too vigilant in guarding against long-term negative consequences.
Sportsmen and Outdoors Enthusiasts
I am a strong advocate for hunters, fishermen and outdoor recreation. They are a fundamental part of our way of life in Senate District 5. Outdoor recreation is also a big part of our economy, and that’s why I will work hard to protect fish and wildlife and their habitat, including protecting clean running streams and rivers. I will be a tireless advocate for the Division of Wildlife and for science-based decisions, not politics-based decisions, and will promote conservation of land to provide more protected hunting and fishing opportunities for our sportsmen.
Getting the Facts Straight on Energy
There are numerous myths circulating about the future of renewable energy in our state. I’d like to take a minute to state the facts, and clear up any misconceptions Colorado residents might have.
CLAIM: A Bentek Energy (a research firm) study shows forcing wind onto grid increases pollution (IPAMS/Bentek: When Less Becomes More).
FACT: The facts are clear: U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) data conclusively show emissions reductions in Colorado as more wind power was brought online, and refutes any claims that adding wind energy in Colorado has not significantly reduced fuel use or emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants at the state’s power plants. DOE data and analysis for other parts of the country similarly demonstrate that wind power reduces both emissions levels and fuel use. For more information see the rebuttal from Xcel’s Frank Prager in The Denver Post.
CLAIM: Evidence is mounting that Renewable Portfolio Standards cost taxpayers billions (North Carolina study).
FACT: Colorado ratepayers are protected by an increasing commitment to clean energy.
- The cost of renewable energy is a fraction of the cost of fossil fuels on an Xcel Energy customer’s bill. In 2010, the average consumer will pay more than 10 times more for fossil fuels than for renewable energy.
- Moreover, the cost that bill payers bear for fossil fuels fluctuates year to year and is increasing. The cost to consumers for renewable energy under HB10-1001 is held constant in statute at two percent of the annual bill with no risk of increasing.
CLAIM 1: Studies show that for every “green” job created, at least two jobs are destroyed. Further studies show that every “green” job costs up to $774,000.
CLAIM 2: Schwartz’ Green Bailout Bill will cost thousands of jobs, and make Colorado less competitive in the economy for the long-term.
FACTS: Studies specific to the mountain west show this is simply not the case. Here are the real facts on the success of the New Energy Economy:
- The New Energy Economy is a vision for an energy policy and infrastructure in Colorado that embraces and fully utilizes renewable energy and energy efficiency, while creating jobs for Colorado workers. A recent study commissioned by the Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) confirms that a sustained commitment to the New Energy Economy will lead to vast new employment opportunities––potentially creating more than 600,000 jobs over the next 20 years. These occupations will have a variety of skill and educational requirements, presenting a wide range of opportunities for job seekers (directly from GEO website).
- Colorado leads on clean energy: Headwaters Economics recently completed a report that compares how Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming are taking advantage of clean energy opportunities.
Colorado leads the region in a number of areas. Its green jobs grew by 30 percent between 1995 and 2007, faster than the state’s overall job growth, representing 1,778 green businesses and more than 17,000 green jobs. Half of the green enterprises in the five-state region are based in Colorado.
Colorado also dominates in attracting investment. The state won 75 percent of the total $800 million of clean tech venture capital invested in the region between 1999 and 2008, and ranked fifth among all U.S. states from 2006 to 2008. Colorado also claimed 69 percent — $296 million — of the competitive funding for clean technology directed to the five states in the 2009 federal stimulus bill.
- Vote Solar and Environment Colorado jointly released a the report, “Investing in the Sun,” that models the economic and environmental benefits of developing solar electricity on homes and businesses across Colorado. The report analyzed the benefits of building 1,000 megawatts (MW) of smaller, distributed solar energy systems in Colorado. In addition to other distributed generation resources such as small-scale wind, HB 10-1001 is expected to deploy 700 MW of solar generation by 2020, which could result in the creation of 23,450 jobs over the next 10 years.
Here are some interesting facts about renewable energy and fossil fuels:
- There are many external costs to fossil fuel electricity production that carry real cost to human health and environment. These costs are beginning to show up in our economy (e.g. the cost of asthma, carbon prices, etc).
- Renewable energy will have a stabilizing effect on electricity prices. Natural gas and coal costs are not at all stable. For example, Colorado bill payers will see a 6.8 percent rate increase to pay for COMANCHE 3, a coal-fired plant in Pueblo.
- The cost of renewable energy is declining rapidly. For example, the cost of a residential solar system has dropped nearly 50 percent in the last three years in Colorado (from $9/watt to $4.50/watt installed).
- The cost of renewable energy is not only declining, but once it is installed fuel cost is free, which means that it isn’t subject to the same market volatility as fossil energy.
- Our country has been subsidizing fossil fuel development for decades. Making a public policy commitment to clean electricity will lead us to a stable, low cost electricity future.
- The more renewable energy we develop in Colorado today, the lower and less volatile our utility bills will be tomorrow.
For more information about Colorado’s green future visit the Headwaters Economics website.
I know that Coloradoans in our district are concerned about the financial and environmental costs of energy. I am committed to helping Colorado move in a smart and sustainable direction, to secure long-term energy solutions for the future of our families and communities.