Scott Committee Moved the Dial on the Energy Debate
Posted by Sean Paige 3589pc on July 25, 2018 · Flag
DENVER — As the representative of an energy-rich Western Colorado district, State Senator Ray Scott had an educational mission foremost in mind when he proposed creating a unique new committee at the General Assembly – the Select Committee on Energy and the Environment (or SCEE) — that would examine energy and environmental issues broadly, holistically and dispassionately, rather than focusing on partisan fights over individual bills.
It sprung from Scott’s observation that too many Coloradans, including even some Statehouse colleagues, weren’t as informed on these issues as they should be, which increased the potential for policy-making missteps that could hurt all Coloradans, not just those living in the state’s energy belt. Debates surrounding the issues were often clouded by myth-making or misinformation, Scott noted. Reliable information was hard to find. Only through a level-headed presentation of facts, in-context, could level-headed decisions be made, he reasoned.
This was the impetus behind creation of the SCEE, which Scott has chaired for two sessions. Other panel members in 2018 included Republicans John Cooke and Kevin Priola, along with Democrats Leroy Garcia and Lucia Guzman. SCEE’s just-released annual report includes hearing highlights from the 2018 session – and attests to the progress the panel made on the goals Scott set for it.
Topics tackled in-depth by SCEE included:
The jobs potential of the Jordan Cove Natural Gas export terminal
Revenues generated by oil and gas operators in Colorado,
The Public Service Company of Colorado’s Colorado Energy Plan; and
Recent Changes to State and Federal Laws Affecting Colorado’s Mining Economy Scott insisted that the presentations were heavy on the facts and light on partisan spin or inflammatory rhetoric, which may account for the poor attendance of committee Democrats, who tend to want to turn these and similar events into platforms for spreading extremist propaganda.”My goal at the outset was to avoid having these hearings become the usual circus, by insisting that the presenters stick to the facts and avoid inflammatory or alarmist rhetoric,” Scott said following the report’s release.”That focus on substance over sensationalism apparently turned off some of my Democrat colleagues, judging from their poor record of attendance, but I went into this believing that there would be a bipartisan appetite for the facts, so that’s the way I set up these hearings.” It’s hard to precisely measure how much impact this just-the-facts-ma’am approach had, in terms of heightened public awareness or improving the quality of related bills, but Scott sees anecdotal evidence of progress in the success he had this year on the Energy Office revamp bill – Senate Bill 3 — which died at the hands of Democrats in the waning hours of the 2017 session.
“My argument for creating an all-of-the-above Energy Office in Colorado becomes more compelling once you become better informed about the huge economic benefits we enjoy in this state thanks to a very diverse and dynamic energy sector,” said Scott.”Select Committee hearings helped get that Energy Office reform bill over the finish line, by highlighting just how important energy is in Colorado as an economic engine — and just how much we stand to lose if we begin taking any of our energy options off the table.”
Scott hopes to see the Select Committee’s work continue in the next session, though he admits that may be in doubt if Republicans don’t hold the majority and the anti-energy attitudes of some Democrats gain ground.”If Democrats manage to take control of both chambers, all bets are off in terms of maintaining a diverse energy portfolio in Colorado,” warned Scott.”All the focus of a committee like this will be on promoting climate alarmism, or waging war against the most significant and reliable energy generators we have, which won’t be good for Colorado’s economy or energy consumers.”