When he took the podium for a victory speech in his decisive victory over Republican Walker Stapleton, Jared Polis was ebullient when he declared that Colorado was “an inclusive state that values every contribution.” Polis was referring to his place as history’s first openly gay state governor, but he may as well have been talking about the future of his state. Even as the Centennial State gains notoriety for its progressive social politics, the backbone of the state is built on its businesses.
In Colorado, Inclusion Isn’t Just a Grab for Attention
These days, it’s easy — and popular — to suggest that “inclusion” is the reason you get out of bed in the morning; it’s another thing to walk into the statehouse and represent that inclusion on every level, not just the levels that earn adoration from niche special interests and the media.
When it comes to building a better Colorado, “inclusion” means embracing the state’s energy industry in a big way. In particular, the state’s oil and gas industry must be respected and preserved to pave the way for a prosperous state.
Fortunately, it appears the incoming governor knows how the importance of oil and gas in Colorado.
Okay, There Are a Few Reasons to Be Nervous
As a prominent public figure for nearly a decade, Jared Polis has had ample opportunity to sound off on the oil and gas climate. As a member of the US House of Representatives, Polis checked all the liberal boxes.
He’s supported renewable energy efforts in both speeches and legislative moves. He voted to ban offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. He voted in favor of $5 billion in tax credits for alternative energy projects. On his website, he proclaims:
“As governor, my goal is to accomplish our statewide clean energy transition by 2040 while saving people money on their utility bills and creating green energy jobs in Colorado that can never be outsourced. For our climate, for our national security, for our health, and for our economic growth we need a bold goal of 100% renewable energy.”
Polis Knows On Which Side His Bread Is Buttered
That ferocity seems to have cooled down throughout the campaign. Speaking at an event sponsored by the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry in August, the governor-elect said, “We have a robust energy sector in Colorado, oil and gas, solar, wind, the next generation of and future advances in oil and gas extraction, as well as renewable energy.”
Then, in mid-November, Polis told Colorado Public Radio, “There are lots of legislators whose constituents are very eager for them to address oil and gas issues. A 2500-foot setback in all cases did not pass. That’s never what I thought the solution was. I think the solution is to really figure out the parameters around local input of neighborhoods and cities and counties and the decisions that affect the quality of life in different areas of our state.”
Working Together to Get Ahead
Though Polis has previously campaigned on his aggressive political stances, it would appear that he’s making an attempt to take inclusion seriously as he assumes his duties as governor of Colorado. He may be a champion for renewable energy, but he understands the vital role oil and gas plays in the state’s economy.
That’s something, at least.