Comments on energy please environmentalists

Environmentalists on Tuesday welcomed what President Obama had to say about energy issues on his first day in office, while industry officials are more focused on how he might act in weeks to come.

Steve Smith, assistant regional director of the Wilderness Society, called it “marvelous” that in an inaugural address in which Obama tried to cover so many national topics, he specifically mentioned the need to turn to solar, wind and other renewable energy sources, and to respond to the threat of global warming.

“I think it makes those points very important, the fact that he pushed them (Tuesday),” Smith said.

On Obama’s first day in office, Environment Colorado praised the fact his White House Web site immediately outlined an agenda that included promoting plug-in hybrid cars and investing in, and promoting job creation in, the clean energy sector.

That agenda includes encouraging responsible domestic oil and gas production. As part of that, the new administration advocates a use-it-or-lose-it approach on drilling leases on public land, something supported by environmentalists but opposed by the industry.

Greg Schnacke, president of Americans for American Energy, which promotes development of traditional fuels, noted Obama didn’t mention such fuels in his speech.

“Let’s just wait and see what they propose,” he said. “We want to give the new president a chance to learn more about energy.”

Cheri Hager, front desk clerk at the Rusty Cannon Motel in Rifle, which provides lodging for a lot of natural gas workers, said it’s important for Obama to support traditional domestic fuels.

“I’d like to see him develop the oil shale and use our own resources instead of everybody else’s,” she said.

Marc Smith, executive director of the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States, said in a statement, “Our industry looks forward to working closely with the new president to help him understand that natural gas production from the Western public lands is critical to his stated goals of increasing energy security and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.”

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., welcomed Obama’s comments in support of renewable energy and decreased reliance on foreign oil.

Xcel Energy spokesman Mark Stutz said the utility already is working to carry out many of the initiatives Obama laid out. Xcel is the nation’s leading utility provider of wind energy.


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