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U.S. senator discusses environment in virtual town hall

Residents ask about climate change, clean energy jobs and public lands
U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper met with tribal and local leaders May 7 during a virtual roundtable discussion about broadband in Southwest Colorado. (Screenshot)

Coloradans had a chance this week to quiz U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper about his plans to address climate change and clean energy.

The virtual town hall drew community advocates, small business owners and city council members from across the state who peppered the freshman senator with questions about his plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create jobs in the clean energy sector and protect public lands.

“We've come a long way on a lot of things, like regulating methane emissions and expanding access to electric vehicles and making sure they’ve got more choices in terms of recharging stations,” he said. “We just have to take some of those same solutions and make sure that Washington implements them on a broader scale.”

Hickenlooper, who serves on the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee and is a former geologist, tied in the economy when answering questions, and said focusing on climate research and solutions is a “once in a generation opportunity to invest.”

“The Small Business Administration is going to be part of this ignited effort to address climate change once and for all,” he said, “and really to not just talk about it, but to create a comprehensive plan that is going to allow us to make the right investments and the appropriate decisions.”

The senator proposed his first bill package in May, which aims to increase access to Small Business Administration resources for minority and women-owned businesses. The legislation also includes incentives for business owners to invest in energy-efficient upgrades to qualify for higher loans through the Green Energy Loan Enhancement Act.

Kelly Nordini, executive director of Conservation Colorado, commended Hickenlooper for being a “climate champ” in Washington. During the town hall, 94% of attendees said in a poll they believe climate change should be addressed in Congress.

“We once again have a partner in Congress, in the White House, working with us to fight climate change,” Nordini said.

In discussing climate solutions and plans, Hickenlooper said bipartisan support is needed when drafting legislation.

Kaela Roeder is an intern for The Durango Herald and The Journal in Cortez and a 2021 graduate of American University in Washington, D.C.

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