Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The New Energy Economy, Vermont and Colorado Parallels

Colorado Governor Bill Ritter at the 6th Annual American Renewable Energy Day (AREDAY) in Aspene last weekend recounted how he helped Barack Obama last year on the campaign trail to see the possibilities of a 'New Energy Economy' based on Colorado's success with it. Apparently it is due to 'marriage of sorts' between environmental and economic policy. He went on to discuss various success stories in the public and private sector since attaining office in 2006. His main focus was how to use the 'transition to clean energy as an economic engine'.

Last week Bernie Sanders chaired a Green Jobs Hearing in Montpelier, at the statehouse where he asked experts from private green oriented industry and similar Vermont public entities to speak about their work and vision integrating energy efficiency, sustainable energy and green jobs development together under the Green Collar economy umbrella. Sanders goal was to collect testimony to spread the word about clean energy job development policies happening in Vermont and how what we're doing is applicable for others nationwide.

Between Colorado and Vermont as green 'new energy economy' leaders there is a lot to learn other states can take away. The one thing that's hard to replicate however is the unique synergy of green thinking into the DNA of those who live and work in each State. This is partly due to long-held environmentally focused values, a culture awareness of the finitude of natural resources and willingness to have hard discussions together. Whether it's the lack of water for example in Colorado and rampant growth issues in metropolitan areas or stormwater versus acid rain in Vermont, aesthetic and visual impacts of Wind Energy vs. the Merits as renewable energy source and permitting reform, both States have a vital dialogue about these issues which spurs other conversations and intiatives such as the 'New Energy Economy' or 'Green Jobs' discussions.

This synergy of activism, involvement and innovation takes generations to develop. But with Colorado and Vermont's examples to follow among others, perhaps it might be easier for others to join in the conversation.

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