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June 18, 2008 08:12 PM UTC

Udall vs. Schaffer and the Cross-roads of Energy

  • 32 Comments
  • by: Haners

With accusations and attacks flying between U.S. Senate candidates Mark Udall and Bob Schaffer, it can be difficult to tell where the candidates stand on important issues.

That’s why I really appreciated this article that appeared in the Denver Post.  It lays out both candidate’s views in a fair manner.

http://www.politicswest.com/26…

Highlights and poll follows.

The contrast between the two candidates on the subject of energy is very vivid.  According to the article:

Udall’s campaign believes the timing couldn’t be better for a man who has been talking about renewable energy for more than a decade. Between global warming, rising gas prices and Middle Eastern wars, “green energy” is the theme of the moment, and Udall is one of its top proponents in Congress.

But Schaffer isn’t going to cede this issue to Udall.

“A third-grader in Denver public schools doesn’t need her parents paying $4 a gallon for gasoline or higher light bills with cash they don’t have,” Schaffer said. “I’m a little more impatient when it comes to a growing economy and new sources of revenue.”

Both candidates can claim authority on the issue.  Udall has made “green energy” a focus since his time in the state legislature, while Schaffer worked for an energy company after his three terms in Congress.

(For all of you parrots out there who refer to Bob Schaffer’s experience as an energy executive, you’ll probably find it interesting that the article points out that “At least in two respects, opponents’ efforts to tar Schaffer as ‘Big Oil Bob’ are incorrect: Aspect is a relatively small player and 80 percent of its development projects focus on natural gas.”)

With that sort of experience, both candidates have formed their views.  Udall strong supports renewable energy, Schaffer shares some of those views but also wants the United States to become energy independent by tapping our own resources.

Both candidates seem to be aware about possible environmental impacts-Udall stated

“There are areas that are so important to how we identify ourselves as Westerners and have values that far exceed monetary values. They ought to be protected.”

 Schaffer seemed to think that a balance could be struck.  

“Where their answer is ‘no because we said so,’ a better long-term answer for the country should be ‘yes, if we achieve certain high standards.’ “

The article offers many more insights into the two men’s views on the issue, and I strong encourage you all to read it.  I imagine that this issue will become more and more important as the campaign goes on.

Who do you think would better handle energy issues?

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32 thoughts on “Udall vs. Schaffer and the Cross-roads of Energy

  1. would make America energy independent?  can you name a place where increased energy supplies have resulted in lower prices?

    not in Colorado, that’s for sure.  drilling has quadrupled and prices have followed.

    1. drilling more wells won’t increase our energy independence:

      At the end of 2007 in Colorado, there were 33,815 active natural gas wells. At the end of 2006 there were 31,096. This increase of 2,719 active wells (an 8.7% increase in one year) should have resulted in increased natural gas production, right?

      Wrong ’em, boyo.

      Total natural gas sales in Colorado in 2006: 1,205 BCF

      Total natural gas sales in Colorado in 2007: 1,202 BCF

      (BCF = billion cubic feet)

      Essentially no change in production (if you’re a stickler, this represents a DECREASE of 0.22%) despite a healthy increase in the number of wells.

      What’s going on?

      A) Are Colorado gas fields in decline?

      B) Is the O&G industry holding back on production until the new pipelines are operational and they can get higher prices?

      C) Are environmentalists plugging wells with the bodies of adorable puppies?

      D) Has the uncertainty of new regulations frightened the natural gas and it’s afraid to come to the surface?

      The answer likely includes both A & B (and maybe E through Q also, there may be many contributing factors). None the less, two of Colorado’s most productive gas basins have been in decline since 2003. Also, Colorado gas has been selling at great discount (20-50% below the prices on the coasts) for several years.

      ** Remember these numbers when the O&G industry tries to convince us that gas production is down because of the new regulations. The decline began BEFORE the new rules were in place and the earlier production increases took place despite pipeline saturation and industry’s inability to sell the gas at full market price  

      1. who are not shy about how much they are banking on the back of Coloradans, the answer is B.  The Piceance is hopping (not in decline yet, although that will surely follow at the rate new wells are being punched in).  Majors (and minors) keep setting up shop in the Piceance, including major new pipelines coming on line.  When talking to investors, its all about the MASSIVE PROFITS and ROSY SCENARIOS, no talk of packing up shop and leaving because of Ritter.   In the ads, however, the companies and their lobby groups have no qualms about telling BOLD FACED lies.    

  2. Schaffer has never shown a desire to stick to “certain high standards” in the past and I highly doubt he’ll do it now.  Once he’s in office he’ll revert.

    Oh – if anyone thinks Bob’s distancing himself from Big Oil by cozying up to Natural Gas production is going to help his reputation in a state being swamped by gas production techniques that ruin nearby farmland and recreational habitats, he might want to re-think that.

  3. The U.S. doesn’t have enough oil to become oil independent. The only way to become independent of foreign oil is to replace it with something else–biofuels, and/or obviate the need for imported fuel by replacing internal combustion vehicles with electric vehicles, through efficiency, and through conservation.

    Perhaps a private school voucher would help teach Schaffer how to add?

    1. Can’t remember who it was, suggested that by opening up all of our drilling potential we could more than double our oil production – and that doing so would reduce our dependence on foreign oil by 1/3.

      Never mind that a doubling of our oil capacity has to be based on the most optimistic assessment I’ve ever heard, or that getting that production online would take most of a decade.  If doing so only reduces our dependence on foreign oil by 1/3, it still doesn’t break our dependence on foreign oil; I’m not totally sure it would even break our dependence on MidEast oil.

      This is supposed to be an encouragement to drill in ANWR and offshore how?  Time to find a better source of power for our vehicles.

        1. ANWR is ~3%, deep sea is ~4%, other offshore is maybe 2%, and Bakken is ~2%, and we have a number of other sources not currently under full development.  Assuming relatively optimistic sources, that’s over 10%.

          But as of 2005 we produced 40% of our own oil, so there’s no way we could double it.  Nor would doubling it reduce our foreign dependence by 1/3 – that’s a “mere” 50% increase in domestic oil production.  Reducing our foreign oil dependence by 1/3 is almost exactly what we need to remove our dependence on MidEast oil – if we could figure out how.

          1. a report by the US House Natural Resources Committee.  Without opening another acre of federal land (something I have heard no one suggest btw, just saying) and utilizing only the leases already stockpiled by energy companies (but not yet drilled or in production) it found that we could reduce imports by 1/3.

            Development of and production from the 68 million acres currently

            under lease but not in production would cut US imports of oil by onethird.

            The entire report–which is not very long–is worth a look.  It really puts the LIE in rupubLIEcan.  

            Link http://courtney.house.gov/Uplo

            1. There are a lot of reserves I obviously wasn’t counting, and others that I counted that would produce more over a shorter period of time than ANWR.  That gets us to a doubling of production, but it would only last 20 years.

              So we have 10,000 drilling permits outstanding, 68m acres not currently in production but already leased, and the National Petroleum Reserve up in Alaska leased and in some places even drilled but not producing any oil because the wells are capped.

              According to reports, over the past 8 years oil companies have drilled on 18,000 permits; at that rate it would take more than 4 years to take care of the backlog on current permits, and millions of acres of leases that could easily obtain more permits.

              It’s a complete sham.  Just another attempt to sell us out cheap to Big Oil.  We should’ve figured.

    1. Personally, I would like to tap into our own oil reserves while we develope some other kind of alternative technology.  I don’t care if it’s green, renewable, nuclear, fushion, whatever, as long as it works.

      But something has to be done while we develope that to ease the cost of fuel for families and businesses.  If tapping into our own resources helps, lets do it.  Even if it takes ten years to get it, it would be better then waiting however long it’s going to be to come up with other alternatives.

      1. Perhaps if we had done something other than twiddle our thumbs for the last 8 years we’d already be there, or close to it.

        I don’t understand the logic behind acknowledging that new oil will take 10 years to get to market but that we have to drill for oil to hold us over until we develop alternatives. I’ve heard this same argument and it’s like the people making it are not actually comprehending what they are saying – this oil is 10 years away. There seems to be this call to “do something!” even though that something won’t actually fix the problem. But hey, we’re “doing something!”

        Maybe I’m being Polly Annish but if we have a focused effort on solving this problem I’m quite certain that we can make tremendous progress long before that oil ever comes to market.

        We built The Bomb in 5 years.  

        1. Is that it’s going to take more than 10 years to develope a viable alternative that will replace oil in every way that we use it.  How long would it take to build nuclear power plants to power the entire country, if we decided that was the best option today?  

          What is on the horizon that could replace fuel not just in cars, but in 18 wheelers or farm equipment or military vehicles?  How long is that going to take to develope and be cheap enough for people to afford it?

          People need relief, and ten years seems to be a closer time frame then anything else I’ve seen

          1. Which is why I have serious problems draining our reserves down to zero. We need oil for chemicals, rubber, pharmaceuticals, plastics, lubricants, and a whole bunch of other things.

            18 wheelers and farm equipment are easy–biodiesel. It can already be produced on a large scale…we just have to build the facilities. Military equipment (jets) may be able to use biofuel, and there’s also fuel that can be refined from coal, but national security is the #1 reason I think it is really a bad idea to tap our resources down to zero. What little oil we have (and it’s a little) we should hang onto just for those reasons.

            1. But hold that thought-while I understand where you’re coming from, I have a response but no time.

              Hopefully you’ll allow me to revisit this later tonight

            2. I have actually been looking into biofuel lately, I think my dad is taking it up as a hobby.  Having said that, I have some reservations about being able to switch over to that entirely.  I’m sold that we could do that large scale.  Yet.

              I am some what perplexed by your argument about saving the fuel we have (which doesn’t seem like it’s just a little) for ourselves for planning for some future conflict or disaster.  As has been pointed out, it will take some time to get to and use those fuel sources.  Wouldn’t it be smart to go ahead and start tapping that resource now so it’s available when it’s needed, or should we wait for the need to present itself and then start going through the long process of getting it?

              1. Diesel from algae, for instance. Of course that requires building ponds and filling them with water in a sunny place, plus building the refineries. A massive undertaking, for sure, but the technology is there.

                Others, such as cellulosic ethanol, require more R&D. We can do it now, but it’s a two-step process that makes it economically unfeasible (though maybe not at $4/gal). That is a bioengineering problem–development of an organism that can both break down the cellulose and convert it to alcohol.

                I think that our oil resources should be tapped. But they should be tapped in the right order–cheapest and with the least environmental impact first, and places like the Roan Plateau and ANWR last, and only if they are needed. And for the right reasons: burning oil is dumb if there’s an alternative, because oil is necessary for so many other things than driving around. And there are no alternatives when it comes to the chemicals we produce from oil.

                But the strategic reserve component is immeasurably important. World war will come again–likely with China and/or India as the world’s resources are increasingly under pressure from industrialization and population explosion in those countries.

                1. I completely agree with

                  burning oil is dumb if there’s an alternative, because oil is necessary for so many other things than driving around

                  .  It is dumb-and we do have alternatives now for that in nuclear power and clean coal.  At some point we might even have fushion-and that would be cool (though not all that close at all from what I hear).

                  I’m still new at this issue, I’ve heard about algae a little, I haven’t heard anything about cellulosic ethanol.  I’ll have to take a look.

                  1. “clean” coal and “safe” nuclear should set off alarms.

                    These modifiers make it perfectly clear that in reality coal is dirty and nuclear is unsafe.

                    And thus, they are “alternatives” merely in the sense that you can generate usable energy with them.  

                    1. Because in this country, and many other countries, nuclear power has been very safe.

                      And I said clean coal because coal was once dirty, but now the technology exists to make it cleaner and more envioronmentally friendly.

                      So I don’t see how that makes nuclear power automatically harmful or unsafe and coal dirty.

                      I think that the knee jerk reaction you displayed is the sort of thing that is going to keep us from ever moving to any alternatives that are already in place.

                    2. But we can certainly do a lot to the exhaust that makes it much more palatable than it used to be…

                      There’s a company called Green Star Products that specializes in hooking up algae farms to coal power plants (actually, their reach is now much broader).  The warmed water and high CO2 emissions from the power plant feed the algae farm, greatly increasing the growth rate of the algae.  I don’t know if they have a lock on this kind of configuration, but it’s a great idea that both cleans up some of the major problems with coal-fired power and produces a useful secondary product.

          2. Because it’s not fully informed.

            In 2004 there was a paper published in the journal Science which identified several technologies, all of which have “passed beyond the laboratory bench and demonstration project; many are already implemented somewhere at full industrial scale.”

            Here: http://carbonsequestration.us/

            Here’s a flash summary: http://www.princeton.edu/~cmi/

            More can be found here: http://www.princeton.edu/~cmi/

            including the “Stabilization Wedge Game” if this is something you might like.

            This analysis was conducted to identify strategies for curbing CO2 production over the next 50 years using current technology. A number of strategies are exactly what we should be adopting for curbing carbon (i.e., fossil fuel) consumption.

            It identifies modest annual rates of adoption of these strategies (eg, ~2% reductions per year) in order to reach extraordinary reductions over 50 years.

            Many of these strategies can be adopted by the next equinox and be scaled up within a few years, saving us many times the expected amount of oil in ANWR for over a decade before ANWR would reach its maximum output.

            Relief.

            (Spelled “Conservation, Efficiency, Renewables.”)

            1. I read the first link.  It talks about reducing CO2 emmissions, not an energy policy that will reduce costs for working families.  It also talked about implementing it’s changes on about a 40-50 year time frame.  Maybe we have different priorities, but my main goal is a cost relief for families and businesses until we find a viable alternative to fossil fuels.  A lot of what they talked about were how to make fuel use more effiecent with the goal of reducing green house gases.  Not exactly what I was talking about….but an interesting read none-the-less

              1. I think I pointed out in my post above that the study was done with the objective of reducing CO2 emissions.

                But, I also pointed out that reducing CO2 output can be achieved by decreasing C inputs (i.e., reducing dependence of fossil fuels). Thus the strategies for reducing CO2 production are often congruent with the strategies we need for reducing fossil fuel demand.

                As for the 40-50 year window, they are looking at what is doable (in a current policy sort of way) right now that will put us on the path of extraordinary efficiency. Taking several strategies, each implemented at rates of 2% per year will take us to lofty goals in 40-50 years in a nearly painless tragectory. However, taking a few strategies and accelerating their implementation (because they help us achieve additional goals) can result in amazing benefits in the short term.

                The technologies that they mention in terms of efficiency and conservation are EXACTLY what will help working families right now. The technologies already exist (no need to wait 10 years for a dribble of U.S. oil that gets sold to China because they are willing and able to pay more).

                What we need are policies that will get the technology into the hands of those who need it most.

                Advancements in efficiency and conservation are the bridge we need to tide us over during the development of alternatives. These strategies can be implemented immediately.

                And then, as ThillyWabbit points out, we still have our reserves of oil in ANWR and Roan for our crucial needs in the future.

                1. Explain to me what you think conservation should look like.  I have my own ideas what people mean when they say that, but I don’t want to automatically assume you’re in that category

          3. Since 2004, the Bureau of Land Management has issued 28,776 permits

            to drill on public land; in that same time, only 18,954 wells were actually

            drilled.

            _ Oil and gas companies have stockpiled nearly 10,000 extra permits to

            drill that they are not using to increase domestic production.

            _ Onshore, of the 47.5 million acres of federal lands leased by oil and

            gas companies, only about 13 million acres are actually producing oil

            and gas.

            _ Offshore, only 10.5 million of the 44 million leased acres are currently

            producing oil or gas.

            _ Combined, oil and gas companies hold leases to nearly 68 million acres

            of federal land that are not producing oil and gas.

            _ The 68 million acres of leased, inactive federal land could produce an

            additional 4.8 million barrels of oil and 44.7 billion cubic feet of natural

            gas each day.

            _ That would nearly double total U.S. oil production, and increase natural

            gas production by 75%.

            _ 4.8 million barrels of oil equals more than six times the estimated peak

            production from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

            _ Development of and production from the 68 million acres currently

            under lease but not in production would cut US imports of oil by onethird.

  4. OK, Pemex is a poorly run state monopoly. I don’t know how much if any support it may be subsidized from the general fund. I’ve never seen anything on that line.  Being the national oil company, they have to be more responsive to the citizen’s anger.

    Having laid all that out, what’s up with the much lower prices in Mexico?  Diesel is less than 1/2 that of in CA (and Mexico uses much more diesel – and propane – as a percentage than we do, I think.)  Gasoline is at 50-60% of CA’s price.

    When I used to drive down to Ensenada for, um, cultural enlightenment, back in the 80’s fuel was much cheaper than in the US.  Always filled up near the border.

    In my recent 2004-2005-2008 visits, they pretty much were the same as in the US.

    Now we are back to the 80’s, in a manner of speaking.  

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