VIDEO: Three Western governors look beyond politics to advance clean energy

Highlights from the Western governors’ panel at the 21st Century Energy Transition Symposium.

At Colorado State University’s 21st Century Energy Transition Symposium, three sitting governors of Western states underscored common roadblocks and the need for collaboration amidst the transition to renewable energy sources.

Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado, Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana, and Gov. Matt Mead of Wyoming participated in the panel discussion, which drew a standing-room-only audience and was moderated by former Colorado governor Bill Ritter. The governors’ panel headlined the seventh annual symposium, which gathers industry, academic and other experts to discuss trends, problems and successes in the changing energy landscape.

Topics the state leaders covered included the benefits of cooperation across state lines, strategies for putting more electric vehicles on the road, challenges of federal land permitting, the need for states to lead the way with rules and regulations, relying on science for answers to problems, and training future energy workers while not leaving behind previous generations of coal industry workers.

All three said fossil fuels are still part of the energy portfolio, but all also heralded dropping costs and growing access to solar and wind. “I think too often the discussion has been, do you want to have energy production, or do you want a clean environment?” Mead said. “I think it’s a false choice.”

Other highlights

The symposium’s Day 1 keynote was delivered by Amory Lovins, chief scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, and a leading early voice in the renewable energy movement. Lovins discussed the state of today’s transition to renewable sources, and the challenges ahead.

Other highlights: a lunch panel that featured women in senior energy leadership positions to discuss their career paths; a session on the behavioral dimensions of the energy transition; and a panel on solutions and innovations amongst various research projects.

The two-day event drew more than 675 attendees, plus about 2,400 from 10 different countries who viewed a live stream.