The U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, a former U.S. Senator, Colorado College graduate and Colorado’s 36th Attorney General, spoke at CU Thursday regarding public lands.
Salazar’s speech took place Thursday afternoon in the Stadium Club at Folsom Field as part of a conference entitled “The Nation Possessed: The Conflicting Claims of America’s Public Lands.” The conference, held from Sept. 11-14, was sponsored by the Center of the American West and the Public Lands Foundation and was held in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the founding of the General Land Office.
Salazar, during his time as Colorado’s 35th Senator, was responsible for working with bipartisan legislation to create Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection and Energy Efficiency Act of 2007 as well as fulfilling a vision of an economy less dependent on foreign oil and more dependent on renewable energy.
In his speech, Salazar spoke about his experience in creating renewable forms of energy and promoting energy conservation in Colorado.
“We have harnessed the power of the sun, the power of the wind and the power of geothermal energy,” Salazar said. “We have doubled the amount of renewable energy in the United States over the last three years. It is a statistic I am very proud of.”
Salazar went on to address the role of coal technology across the U.S. and the benefits of clean coal as a source of energy.
“Under the President’s leadership, we have invested about a billion dollars in coal technology,” Salazar said. “We need to continue to support coal and clean coal in the United States of America.”
Heather Henfrey, a class of 2011 alumnus and an attendee of Salazar’s speech, said that she appreciated that Salazar was adamant about taking advantage of clean energy sources, although she thinks that alternative sources to coal should be utilized.
“I think it’s disappointing how much of an emphasis he put on keeping coal a part of our power supply, but I’m excited about the large amount of renewable power he talked about,” Henfrey said.
Serving on Gov. Roy Romer’s Cabinet from 1987 to 1994, Salazar fought to educate the public on conservation, also writing the Colorado constitutional amendment that created Great Outdoors Colorado, a movement which has become one of the most effective land conservation initiatives in the U.S.
Salazar’s speech also emphasized the value of public lands.
“All of the public lands belong to you, the American people,” Salazar said. “Public lands are also a huge economic contributor.”
According to a Department of the Interior news release, its efforts contributed $385 billion dollars to the United States economy in 2011 as well as reinforced over two million jobs.
A key event of the conference took place at the Stadium Club at Folsom field at 9 a.m. Friday. The “Roundtable Conversation: Turning Hindsight into Foresight: The Past & Future of America’s Public Lands” was a discussion moderated by guest speakers to discuss the future of America’s public lands and how policy makers may protect them.
Boulder was the first stop on a three-day trip Salazar will be taking through Colorado, with stops in Denver on Sept. 14 and in Grand Junction on Sept. 15.
Patti Limerick, faculty director at the Center for the American West and the moderator for the roundtable discussion, said in a university news release that the events of the conference are learning opportunities to gain insight on the value of American lands.
“It is a great privilege to host the Secretary of the Interior, along with many other distinguished public servants and influential Western figures,” Limerick said. “This is truly a ‘be there or be square’ kind of event.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Alyx Saupe at Alyx.firstname.lastname@example.org.