Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) doesn’t think much of the argument made by President Donald Trump and his supporters—that the Paris climate accord was a threat to the financial well-being of people who make a living producing energy from traditional fossil fuel sources.
“No. They’re wrong,” Polis said when asked if those folks have a point. “Major oil and gas companies, Exxon, Shell, support these accords because we all live on the same planet no matter what industry you work on.”
Polis is right about Exxon and Shell. Pressed again on the idea that a concerted effort to move away from fossil fuels would hurt people who work in traditional energy, Polis deflected to focus on other underlying causes of the trend toward renewables.
“It’s economics that’s driving the move towards wind. It’s simply cheaper than coal,” Polis said. “That’s why you haven’t seen new coal plant construction.”
In Colorado at least, there’s evidence to support that. Xcel Energy says it’s now reached the point where wind power makes the most sense to build from a cost standpoint, which does still require the use of quick-activated natural gas plants that can fill in the gaps when the wind isn’t blowing.
On the Russia investigation, Polis expressed optimism that the investigations in the House and Senate intelligence committees will get to the bottom of whether there was collusion between President Trump’s campaign and Russia.
“I would urge everybody to keep an open mind, whether you like Trump or you don’t like Trump," Polis said. “The American people deserve an answer and I think these subpoenas are really part of that process.”
Polis has floated the idea that he might run for governor, but says he still hasn’t decided. He did hint that he’s interested in seeing how state and local governments will react to the actions of the Trump administration—like exiting the Paris climate deal.
Asked if he’s got a beef with Rep. Ed Perlmutter, (D-Colorado,) Polis demurred.
“I have all my friends running,” Polis said.
Back in 2014, Polis walked away from two statewide ballot questions aimed at restricting oil and gas extraction. Asked if he regrets abandoning that effort now that it’s harder to amend the state constitution, Polis cast the issue as one that’s still open with other avenues to change state policy.
He said he was “disappointed” with Gov. John Hickenlooper’s task force to recommend changes around oil and gas policy.
In that answer, Polis also gave a friendly-sounding nod to the oil and gas industry.
“Coloradans want to make sure that we’re safe in our homes,” Polis said. “That’s not inconsistent with the extraction industry and the tradition of having a strong extraction industry.”