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Green groups change strategy

"Green groups change strategyAmid recession, the environmental movement pushes economic angle(By John Ingold via The Denver Post)Faced with a tight state budget and tighter-fisted state lawmakers,
environmental groups had a quieter session at the Capitol than in years
past, though they still proclaimed the session a success.The state fiscal situation ""colored every bill proposal and committee
hearing,"" said Elise Jones, Colorado Environmental Coalition. ""We couldn't
spend money. In fact, we had to save money and create jobs with every
proposal.""In response to the shifting winds, green groups — which have been among the
most successful interest groups at the Capitol since Gov. Bill Ritter took
office in 2007 — changed tack.Arguments about environmental ethics took a back seat to pitches on
economic development.Out went some of the sweeping environmental regulations of previous
sessions. In came a series of ""opt-in"" programs to help schools or
homeowners afford renewable energy devices.""This year has really been about cutting down some of the barriers,"" said
Pam Kiely of Environment Colorado.Among the green bills passed this year were two measures to assist
homeowners and schools in financing solar-panel purchases; a bill providing
tax incentives for buying solar-heated water systems; a measure giving
small power providers the ability to charge higher rates to bigger
electricity users; and a requirement that homebuilders offer solar panels
as an option on new, custom homes.Democrats say the bills will help grow the ""New Energy Economy"" in
Colorado, bringing jobs and investment to the state.""These are sustainable jobs in the long-term that can't be outsourced very
easily,"" said House Speaker Terrance Carroll, D-Denver.Republicans, though, say many plans missed the mark. Sen. Greg Brophy,
R-Wray, said he supported some of the green bills at the Capitol, such as
one providing a tax credit for the purchase of alternative fuel vehicles.
But he said others gave boosts to renewable energy at the expense of more
practical options.""It's clear the far left of the environmental movement is kind of where
everything starts at the Capitol,"" Brophy said. ""On occasion it turns back
slightly from that, but sometimes they shove it through as is. . . . These
guys have an agenda that excludes traditional fossil fuel.""For the latest in green jobs in Colorado, nationally and worldwide please
click here"