Ex-governors to debate global warming

If you go

What: Yampa Valley Partners' Fueling Thought Energy Summit 2009

When: May 14 and 15

Where: Holiday Inn of Craig, 300 S. Colorado Highway 13

• For more information, see www.yampavalleypa...>

Since Feb. 23, Kate Nowak said she has been adjusting to a learning curve.

Her progress continues this month as Yampa Valley Partners' new executive director puts the finishing touches on Fueling Thought Energy Summit 2009, a two-day seminar on almost everything energy, planned for May 14 and 15 at the Holiday Inn of Craig.

"I'm brand new to the energy industry, and just learning about it has been fascinating to me," Nowak said. "As a citizen, I own energy stock, but I never realized it was such a major player in how the world runs."

This year's annual summit - usually a series of lectures, presentations and panel discussions - includes a new agenda item: a debate.

Former Colorado governors Richard Lamm and Rill Owens plan to debate climate change, specifically whether global warming exists, whether it is caused or exacerbated by industry, and if society should take steps to reduce its causes.

Lamm, a Democrat, served three terms as governor, from 1975 to 1987. He also ran for the Reform Party's presidential nomination in 1996.

Owens, a Republican, served two terms as governor, from 1999 to 2007. Term limits prevented him from running for a third term.

"Obviously, the debate is going to be awesome," Nowak said. Climate change "is one of the key issues affecting the energy industry today, and we're lucky to have the caliber of people debating it that we do."

Other aspects of the event will focus on giving "every sector of the energy industry" a chance to discuss their segment of the economy, Nowak said.

"It's not just coal, oil and gas, though they will be here, too," she said. "We have presentations on oil shale, uranium and renewables, such as wind and solar."

In addition to industry speakers, organizers also invited four state legislators to speak on the ongoing 2009 legislative session - Sen. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction; Sen. Jim Isgar, D-Hesperus; Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch; and Rep. Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison.

As of Monday, both Republicans had committed to attending, but organizers had not received confirmations from either Democrat.

Environmental interests also will have various opportunities to address the crowd.

Carol Tombari, manager of stakeholder relations at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, will speak about the economic prospects for renewables in Northwest Colorado.

Immediately after her talk, members of The Nature Conservancy, Bureau of Land Management and Questar Gas will discuss their partnership in developing natural gas fields in the Hiawatha region of north Moffat County.

Colorado Department of Natural Resources officials also have their own times slotted.

No environmental groups, such as The Wilderness Society or the Colorado Environmental Coalition are scheduled to speak.

Nowak said Yampa Valley Partners' goal was to provide a place for people to speak and learn about the energy industry specifically.

"I think what we were really trying to focus on was making sure all the energy sectors were represented," she said. "That was our main goal."

Regarding the environment, organizers did invite "several big-hitters" in the renewable field, Nowak added, but each of them declined the invitation.

"I thought with all this hubbub around the country, we'd get a lot of interest from the renewables," she said. "That wasn't the case, unfortunately."

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