Sen. Cory Gardner Urges the Senate to Protect Outdoor Rec. Jobs and Landmarks

On July 12, 2018, Senator Cory Gardner (CO) urged his colleagues in the U.S. Senate to permanently reauthorize the Land Water Conservation Fund (“LWCF”).  Sen. Gardner took to the Senate floor to discuss the importance of LWCF and also signed on as a co-sponsor to S.569, which would authorize and fund the program.  LWCF, which does not require any taxpayer dollars, is critical for western sportsmen and western state economies.  

LWCF programs maintain critical infrastructure and open access to public lands in support of hunting, fishing, and other outdoor rec. activities that have become key economic drivers in Colorado and other western states.   The outdoor recreation industry is estimated to  have a total annual spend of $886.8 billion and drive over 7.5 million jobs across the country.  In the Mountain West alone, the outdoor industry generates $104.5 billion in consumer spending, creates 925,000 jobs, and contributes $7.6 billion to state and local taxes.

LWCF has been in existence for 52 years.  In Colorado, LWCF investments totaling over $265 million have helped preserve national treasures like Great Sand Dunes National Park and Rocky Mountain National Park but the program has also played a critical role in local parks, open spaces and education centers that connect the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts to the land. 

The Western Way applauds Senator Gardner for his leadership on LWCF permanent authorization and full funding.

TWW's Rural Energy Network Members Tour Rush Creek

Members of TWW’s Rural Energy Network recently toured Xcel Energy’s Rush Creek I Wind Farm in Elbert County, Colorado.  The 600 MW wind project will include two wind farms and 83 miles of transmission lines to connect the generated energy with users on the Front Range.  This eastern plains project will be built out across Cheyenne, Elbert, Kit Carson, and Lincoln counties – home to some of Colorado’s best wind resources.  The project is using wind turbines built by Vestas at its three Colorado manufacturing sites in Pueblo, Windsor and Brighton. 

The Rush Creek project is estimated to inject $1 billion into the state’s economy and will have a significant impact on rural economies.  TWW’s Rural Energy Network has seen how important projects like Rush Creek are to their local communities.  These projects not only generate construction jobs on the front end but grow the tax base which in-turn supports needed local government services.  Eastern Colorado has also seen an increase in high paying jobs for wind technicians, which has driven the creation of certificate programs at local community colleges.  

Progressive 15, a Northeastern Colorado Chamber, recently quantified the economic impact that renewable energy projects have on Colorado’s Eastern Plains counties.  The report found:

  • Total direct and indirect economic benefit of construction and investment activity in renewable energy facilities in eastern Colorado from 2000 to 2016 was an estimated $2.7 billion in total output
  • Projects produced 5,919 worker-years (2,595 direct employees + 3,324 indirect employees) earning a total of about $302.6 million ($154.2 million direct earnings + $148.4 indirect earnings) during the construction period.
  • Total direct and indirect economic benefits of operating eastern Colorado’s renewable energy facilities is an estimated $138.7 million in total annual output.

 

Arizona’s Salt River Project Leads on Battery Storage Integration

Salt River Project (SRP) recently began construction of Arizona’s first standalone battery storage project intended to provide flexible peaking capacity.  The 10 MW storage system can deliver the equivalent energy needed to power 2,400 homes for up to four hours.  More importantly, however, is that the project serves as a signal that storage technology has quickly become a market competitive option for utilities. 

Industry estimates, which forecast that lithium-ion capital costs will drop by 36% over the next five years, have utilities increasingly looking to incorporate more storage capacity into their resource planning. In the last month alone, in addition to SRP’s project, there have been four other major storage announcements by utilities in the western United States. In Colorado, Xcel Energy detailed plans for a 275 MW storage project that would come online in 2022 if approved by the state’s Public Utilities Commission.  In Texas, Vista Energy released plans to develop a 10 MW, 42 MWH project which would be the largest in the state.  Nevada’s largest utility announced plans for a possible 100 MW storage project.      

In Arizona, SRP’s storage project will help determine the best way to scaleup larger energy storage projects.  And thanks to the Arizona Corporation Commission’s forward thinking on the state’s energy future, larger storage projects could play a vital role in the state’s energy infrastructure.  Earlier this year ACC Commissioner Andy Tobin proposed an Energy Modernization Plan, which calls for 3,000 MW of storage by 2030. 

The Energy Modernization Plan is a common-sense Arizona based plan.  Beyond calling for investment in storage technologies that help manage electricity demand, which makes the grid more reliable, flexible, and inexpensive, the proposal would, by 2050, have Arizona get 80 percent of its energy from sources like solar, storage, and nuclear. The plan calls for investing in efficiency, which is the least expensive way to meet the state’s energy needs.  The Energy Modernization Plan would ensure that Arizona remains a national leader energy innovation while protecting consumer rates. 

Senators Gardner and Heller Request Tariff Exemption for Utility Scale Solar

Senators Cory Gardner (CO) and Dean Heller (NV) signed onto a letter with six of their Republican Senate colleagues asking the Trump Administration to exclude utility scale solar panels from recent trade actions designed to help U.S. manufacturers against unfair competition from foreign solar panel imports.  The letter sent to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Secretary Rick Perry and Secretary Wilbur Ross, points out that the President’s directive on the solar tariff allows for exemptions to be made when unintended consequences would result that lower domestic economic growth. 

In this case, the Senators are correctly calling for an exemption of 72 cell, 1500 volt utility scale solar panels because the domestic market is not able to meet the booming demand for these panels.  Utility scale solar projects required more than 10,000 MW of these panels in 2016, however, that same year the U.S. domestic market only produced 550 MW of 72 cell modules.  To further complicate the situation, of these domestically produced 72 cell panels, all were of the 1,000 volt variety for commercial and residential applications which yield a higher margin than the 1,500 volt type that utility scale solar requires.  It’s clear that the U.S. domestic market will not be able to respond fast enough to meet the demand for utility scale modules putting this segment of the industry and the tens of thousands of American jobs associated with it in jeopardy.                                                                                                                                       

Even though these specific solar modules are not manufactured in the United States, the domestic solar supply chain and workforce benefits and relies on the deployment of these panels.  The letter highlights the fact that the President’s directive allows for “benefit[s] or advantage[s] to the long-term competitiveness of the solar manufacturing supply chain” to be taken into consideration when granting a product exclusion.  The Senators conclude their request by arguing that:

The exclusion of 72-cell, 1500 volt solar panels from the safeguard measure will preserve tens of thousands of existing solar manufacturing and development jobs, foster market expansion, and allow the U.S. to once again fairly compete in the global marketplace for energy production technologies.  Sensible product exclusions will uphold the integrity of the safeguard measures intended to facilitate positive adjustment to competition from imports of certain crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells. 

The Western Way supports this common sense request that will save U.S. jobs and increase the economic impact of utility scale solar projects across the West.   

Red States Lead in Energy Production

The American Wind Energy Association recently issued its U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report for 2017, and—spoiler alert—the United States is second in both global installed wind power capacity and wind energy generation. Wind now supplies 6.3% of America’s electricity and accounts for 30% of the electricity produced in Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. Wind is also a major player in Nebraska, North Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, and Texas—all red states—proving that renewables garner bipartisan support. And, why shouldn’t it? More than 500 wind-related manufacturing facilities support 105,000 jobs, and every state has some wind-related facility or project within its borders.

This report should disrupt the perception that renewables are only supported by those that lean to the political left. Wind spans the political spectrum and benefits all Americans by increasing private investment in rural America, providing career opportunities, breathing revenue into state coffers, and promoting national security. That’s probably why wind projects and facilities are present and supported in 75% of Republican congressional districts and 62% of Democratic districts.

The Western Way supports an all-of-the-above energy policy, and wind energy is one of the nation’s most robust resources. It should come as no surprise that the top 5 states leading the U.S. in wind energy production are conservative. We are the party of conservation, and we are proud to support an industry that promotes cheap, reliable, and sustainable energy.

The Hill: Western states lead with a balanced energy policy

The Trump administration has had a remarkable impact on the U.S. energy policy over the past year. The number of policy changes and administrative actions in such a short timeframe is unprecedented.

In the Western U.S., the reversal of certain Obama-era energy policies was welcome news. People often forget that 93 percent of federal lands are located in 13 western states. In these states overly restrictive federal energy policies has real life impacts — people lose jobs and communities lose critical tax revenue necessary to fund basic services.  Read More.

By Sarah Hunt, American Legislative Exchange Council and Bob Beauprez, The Western Way

TWW Hosts Outdoor Industry Business Round-Table with Senator Gardner

Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show made its debut in Denver earlier this year.  OR is the largest U.S. trade show for the outdoor and winter sports industries, with more than 29,000 attendees and 7,500 buyers from 60 countries.   It was the largest trade show ever staged at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, using over half a million square feet. 

The Western Way, hosted a CEO Round-Table discussion with Senator Cory Gardner (R)-CO.  TWW's Chair Bob Beauprez led the discussion with outdoor industry CEO's. 

The group covered a wide range of topics from conservation and access to public lands to international trade policy.  Sen. Gardner has been a strong proponent of the outdoor industry.  Most recently, he sponsored the Outdoor REC Act, legislation that was signed into law and requires, for the first time, outdoor recreation economy be counted as part of national GDP.  

azcentral: Here's how Republicans like me can protect the environment

Western conservatives have a historic record of protecting the environment and preserving critical conservation efforts. 

President Ronald Reagan signed into law 38 bills that added more than 10.6 million acres of forests, mountains, deserts and wetlands to the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Sen. Barry Goldwater, “Mr. Conservative,” made clear that protecting the environment must remain an American priority: “While I am a great believer in the free enterprise system and all that it entails, I am an even stronger believer in the right of our people to live in a clean and pollution-free environment.”

azcentral: Senator Karen Fann: Here's how Republicans like me can protect the environment

Colorado Politics: Conservation starts with Conservatives

"Despite what the culture the media lead the public to believe, conservation starts with conservatives, and farmers and ranchers are our nation’s vital environmentalists. That was the message Saturday from former Colorado Congressman Bob Beauprez, the son of a dairy farmer and a rancher."

Colorado Politics: Bob Beauprz: Conservation Starts with Conservatives

Centennial Institute: Environment 2017- Western Way is the Right Way

"As Westerners who love liberty, limited government, and the land, it’s high time we stop letting the bicoastal progressives claim heartland conservatives and the GOP want to despoil the environment. What lot of bovine scatology.

Conservatives don’t care about the earth? Please. No one cares more about conserving America’s natural and spiritual heritage than we do."

Centennial Institute: Environment 2017- Western Way is the Right Way

TWW Opinion Piece: Colorado’s pioneer spirit drives innovation in energy

"Colorado has a long history of attracting innovators looking to create economic opportunities. Our state's earliest pioneers who developed new ways to farm and ranch in an unforgiving climate understood that an ethos of conservation, efficient use of resources and cooperation is necessary to gain a competitive edge. Today's entrepreneurs and risk takers are no different than the settlers who came before them."

Colorado Springs Gazette: Colorado’s pioneer spirit drives innovation in energy

 

TWW Opinion Piece: Trump's Conservative Conservationist Opportunity

Conservatives have tried hard to draw favorable links between Donald Trump and their beloved Teddy Roosevelt. While the two New Yorkers share common character traits, the more relevant question is whether a President Donald Trump would make any attempt to model his initiatives after President Roosevelt’s legacy achievement as a conservative conservationist. The political and policy opportunities are ripe for a President Trump to create such a resurgence.

Reno Gazette Journal: Our View: Trump’s conservative conservationist opportunity

Colorado Politics: Western US Issues Must be Addressed in Final Debate

"Western voters are facing significant issues that have been largely ignored by Mr. Trump and Ms. Clinton. At Wednesday’s debate, in the center of the Western swing states, the presidential nominees would be well served to address these issues of critical concern to Western state voters.

This election year only one presidential debate will be held in the Western United States. Wednesday’s debate, being held in Nevada, offers the candidates an opportunity to share their positions on issues of critical concern to Western swing state voters. Failure to address these issues would be political miscalculation by the presidential nominees and would disrespect Western voters.

A recent poll, the 2016 Conservation in the West Poll, found that 75 percent of voters in the West believe that issues involving public lands, waters, and wildlife are important in deciding whether or not to support a candidate, even when compared to other issues like the economy, health care and education. That same poll found that 68 percent of voters think that presidential candidates do not understand these issues. So, Western swing state voters may actually base their vote on Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton’s position on issues that they have almost entirely ignored."

Colorado Politics: Western US Issues Must be Addressed in Final Debate