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Energy Poll: Coloradans Want Uncle Sam to Share the Wealth

PHOTO: The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act would redirect some of the profits from renewable energy generation on public lands to land and wildlife conservation efforts, an idea a new poll says a majority of Coloradans support. Photo courtesy Colorado Wetland Information Center.
PHOTO: The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act would redirect some of the profits from renewable energy generation on public lands to land and wildlife conservation efforts, an idea a new poll says a majority of Coloradans support. Photo courtesy Colorado Wetland Information Center.
September 10, 2014

CENTER, Colo. - It's back to work for Congress this week, and according to a new bipartisan poll, Coloradans want Washington to continue work on legislation that supports renewable energy and public lands.

The poll found that 69 percent of voters in western states support responsible renewable-energy development on public lands.

Alex Daue, assistant director for renewable energy at The Wilderness Society, said the results indicate public backing for legislation - the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act - that could be up for a vote this fall.

"Clearly, Colorado citizens overwhelmingly support reinvesting revenue from public lands, wind and solar development into land and wildlife conservation," he said. "This strong support should encourage Congress to move the bipartisan Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act forward without delay."

Daue said it also would open the door for more renewable-energy development in Colorado. Seventy-eight percent of those polled said they support using a portion of the money collected from energy development for land and wildlife conservation. The poll was conducted in 11 western states.

Stepping up renewable-energy development could be a big help in counties that have a high percentage of public lands, said Saguache County Commissioner Jason Anderson.

"Our ability to gather a tax base is quite small because we just don't have the private lands to do that," he said. "But many areas have great wind potential, great solar potential and also have large, large amounts of public lands."

Daue said revenue generated from public lands now goes into the U.S. Treasury, but the legislation proposes redirecting some of it to the areas where the energy is generated.

"This Act would share revenues with the county and state that the projects are built in," he said, "as well as investing 35 percent of the revenue into land and wildlife conservation."

Democrats made up just about a third of those polled, with the remainder identifying themselves as independent or Republican.

The poll results are online at wilderness.org.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - CO