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One of the newest members of the Senate is Colorado's Michael Bennet, appointed by Colorado's Governor to replace Ken Salazar who was tapped to be the Secretary of the Interior, (who himself has become more environmentally friendly as the Secretary than as a Senator). Although he is new to the Senate, Senator Bennet has spoken favorably of the Waxman-Markey bill in a response to a constituent letter as seen in this  Grist article. So he seems like a 'Yes' vote for CEJAPA right? Unfortunately there a few things we have to examine to find out how strong Bennet is on Climate legislation.

Michael Bennet
Michael Bennet

read on...

Full disclosure: I have been known in Colorado Political Circles as a 'rabble rouser' for promoting a Primary Challenge to Michael Bennet, based on what I was hearing from state dems disappointed in Governor Ritter passing over several other candidates, such as former house Speaker,
Andrew Romanoff
Andrew Romanoff, who now is the primary opponent.

I wanted a primary, mostly because I was suspect of Michael Bennet because he had not been elected before to an office and no one really knew where he stood on key Democratic issues and this uneasiness was reaffirmed by Bennet joining a  Conservadem group of Dems headed by Evan Bayh.

This group was started to try to give fiscal 'balance' to the President's agenda, which Ms. Maddow says is code for watering down Obama's legislation on Climate Change and Healthcare.

Supporters of Bennet will say that this is mostly hot air from Ms. Maddow, but there are a few other issues that we must investigate.

I have made it no secret that I wanted a primary so that we the voters could demand a solid stance on issues from the two candidates - for me the main issue was Environmental policy.
I know that Bennet has made positive statements on Waxman-Markey, and has toured the state promoting alternative fuels and clean energy as seen here on his website.
But the real issue is that while Bennet says that the Waxman-Markey bill is
"a significant step in the right direction," , this is a state that gets 97% of its energy from Coal (82%) and Natural gas(15%).

coal and gas in co

Oil and Gas PAC money barely make Bennet's top 20 donors, and it is a relatively small portion.

I want to know specifically, how progressive is Michael Bennet going to be in his support of CEJAPA? Will he vote for it? Will he add amendments to weaken it or strengthen it?
His actions are not encouraging, as he has  indicated by signing this letter promoting Natural Gas as part of the final Climate Bill.
It reads:

"Any Senate energy and climate bill should provide statutory guidance to harness this important resource and stimulate and support even more activity in this sector of our nation’s diverse energy portfolio," states the letter from Sens. Michael Bennett (D-Colo.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), David Vitter (R-La.), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska).

I am still quite surprised that both the Udall's signed this, and really disappointed in Mark Udall for his recent statements on revitalizing Nuclear power in Colorado.

But that could take up another whole diary - so we will let someone else adopt him.
The real problem with Senators promoting Gas or Nukes or 'Clean Coal' is that it is totally the wrong direction.
Drilling in Colorado for more Gas or Oil is already a sensitive subject, as residents are protesting new exploration and upset about the water coming from their taps - which is now flammable due to water contamination by the extraction process.
As you can see in this video, we have more than enough renewable energy sources like Solar and Wind in Colorado and in many other states to power our nation cleanly.

Leslie Glustrom of Clean Energy Action:

The State of Colorado uses 12 gigawatts of energy per year.
Right now, in Colorado, Colorado has 96 gigawatts of wind energy.
In terms of Solar energy, Colorado has 200 gigawatts of energy.
(me) enough to power the Midwest...?
Yes more than enough. We have to give credit to Xcel who has made great gains to become a leader among utility companies.

Leslie Glustrom has certainly taken back the praise she gave to Xcel in this interview, because even though there was a ballot intiative by voters that requires our Electric providers like Xcel to pursue alternative energy, they are bringing online a new coal fired power plant in Pueblo Colorado - which will release 25% more carbon into the atmosphere per year than current levels in Colorado, and will use up valuable water from the Arkansas river, when a CSP could do the same job with no added carbon.

For me, Waxman-Markey and CEJAPA don't go nearly far enough to satisfy my concerns about the millions of Environmental Refugees that are going to be displaced by our energy consumption - which is why I started this petition to directly appeal to the President.

My concern is that by the time we have had enough Katrinas and Tsunamis to change our energy policy, it will be too late for millions of people.

Colorado voters have some leverage in this state with Senator Bennet. Since receiving a primary challenge, Michael Bennet has released a video highlighting his support for a Public Option in the Healthcare debate, and I want to see the same happen on Climate Change/Environmental Legislation.
Michael Bennet would be wise to listen to the voters in this case, especially since Nate Silver ranks his seat in the top 5for vulnerability.

And Andrew Romanoff would be wise to tack left of Bennet on issues like the environment to let us know that he is listening to our concerns. That campaign will also be receiving an email with this diary in it.

I want both candidates to know that I will support the candidate in this race who is the most progressive on this issue - because this is not just about creating jobs or consumer choices, its about saving lives.

And even though we have a President who is calling on the G-20 to end subsidies for fossil fuels, we still subsidized the fossil fuel industries to the tune of 72 billion dollars between 2002-2008 and even Waxman-Markey has millions of dollars to subsidize coal.

While the President can call for bold change, the Senate is a slow moving body, that often waters down and weakens strong legislation.
We need Senators that will speak up and be counted on this issue. Even if we go to zero fossil fuels immediately, we will still see decades of impact from the fossil fuel use. If we continue business as usual, it will be a catastrophe beyond comprehension.

So contact Michael Bennet, and let him know that he definitely should support the Kerry-Boxer CEJAPA bill and must also lead on this issue by promoting clean energy, not asking for Natural Gas handouts. Also contact Andrew Romanoff and let him know that the ball is in his court if he is more progressive than Bennet on this issue when the primary vote is counted.

Thanks and please take a second to sign the petition.

Originally posted to wade norris on Fri Oct 30, 2009 at 01:51 PM PDT.

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