On March 18, 2008, CEES presented “Choosing Our Future: A Debate on Energy & Climate Policy by Candidates for Colorado’s Second Congressional District.” Participants included Joan Fitz-Gerald (D), Jared Polis (D), and Will Shafroth (D). Select press coverage of the event is noted below.

Dems debate environment in battle for 2nd District,
Rocky Mountain Post, March 19, 2008

2nd District Dem field in tune on energy issues,
Denver Post, March 19, 2008

From the Colorado Daily Camera
Second CD Candidates Discuss Energy Issues
By Dan Ray, for the Camera Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The three Democratic candidates for Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District made one message clear at a debate Tuesday night: Energy, sustainability and climate change may be the defining issues of our time.

The debate, sponsored by the Center for Energy and Environmental Security at the University of Colorado’s law school, focused on energy and climate policy issues. The candidates—Joan Fitz-Gerald, Jared Polis and Will Shafroth—expressed their positions and fielded questions about the future of energy.

“The great thing about this election is that no one here is just horrible on this issue,” Polis told the audience of about 300, which packed the Wolf Law Building’s Wittemyer Courtroom. “The real challenge will be to find the leadership to break the influence that the oil and gas industry wields in Congress.”

The congressional seat is now held by Mark Udall, D-Eldorado Springs, who is a candidate for the U.S. Senate. No Republican candidates are in the race to fill Udall’s seat. Fitz-Gerald, Polis and Shafroth presented varying paths for how the coal, oil and gas civilization of today could potentially be converted into a renewable-energy civilization of the future.

Fitz-Gerald said coal technologies should not be carelessly abandoned. “More research and development is something that is very badly needed,” she said. “We need to do the science on coal sequestration—on how to do it.”

The way politicians have framed the problems of energy and the environment has made navigating the issues complicated, Polis said. By creating the term “clean coal,” advocates of coal have brought many people to their side. “There is no clean-coal technology, and there won’t be in the near future,” he said. “I don’t believe it is something we need to be investing in.”

The most cutting-edge coal technologies have only been shown to reduce carbon emissions by 10 percent, Shafroth said. “Until there’s a technology that can more significantly reduce this, I’m opposed to anymore coal power plants in our country,” Shafroth said.

The search for sustainable energy represents the greatest environmental challenge of the 21st century, said the event’s host and moderator, Lakshman D. Guruswamy, a professor at the CU law school. “We need interdisciplinary research that will reflect the real-world problems,” he said. “And we need representatives who can shape this picture for the future.”