The future of Natural Resources were up for discussion today between rural advocay groups and the big names in Colorado Politics.
In day two of the Rural Voices of Colorado forum the groups Action 22, Club 20 and Pro 15 discussed the future of natural resources with several law makers including Lt. Governor Donna Lynne, a democrat, and State Treasurer, Walker Stapleton, a republican. Both are running for their parties respective nomination to be Colorado’s next governor.
“That’s what Club 20 is all about is natural resources and water.” Christian Reece, the executive director of Club 20, said, “Our energy portfolio is a mix. It’s coal, it’s natural gas, it’s oil, it’s renewable energies, it’s wind [and] solar. We’re seeing a change in that mix right now, but we support all of the above.”
Changes, Lynne says, could be market driven.
“Coal is more expensive than some of the other renewable and certainly natural gas.” Lynne said, “We just got to get ready for that, we still have a lot of coal production in this state.”
She proposes training for other energy sectors for former coal workers. Stapleton isn’t ready to call it for coal, but agrees in the need for vocational training and the future of natural gas.
“The western slope, we have an abundance of natural gas resources in the Piceance basin.” Stapleton said, “I think that’s transformative to the economic development of Western Colorado.”
The chief use of one of western Colorado’s largest resources, isn’t energy based yet, but its future could be one of the most pressing issues for the state.
“The Colorado river is the lifeblood of western Colorado.” Reece said, “We need to make sure the flows are high enough so there’s not a call on the Colorado River.”
Colorado doesn’t import any water, only exports, meaning needs balanced between our state and those downstream.
“Colorado, we’re obviously running up a supply and demand gap that’s pretty significant.” Laura Belanger, a water resources engineer for the Western Resource Advocacy group.
Colorado’s population could double— adding millions of water users across the state and hundreds of thousands on the Western Slope.
“If we stay with the status quo, which luckily we’ve already shifted and are making progress not to do that, yeah, we’d be in a very serious situation.” Belanger said.
Belanger believes using water as efficiently as possible through reuse and non-potable use is key for the state’s water survival— especially when water is diverted over the mountains.