Energy policy to be key issue at presidential debate

As the presidential debate in Denver nears, Coral Davenport at the National Journal takes a look at the extent to which Coloradans care about environmental issues. Colorado is the embodiment of the “all of the above” Obama energy policy, as it fracks for natural gas, extracts oil and coal, is a leading manufacturer of wind turbines, contains solar factories, and generates significant tourism revenue from its striking natural beauty which has been under attack as increasingly hot weather is impacting snow packs.

8 of 9 Republican Congresspeople from Colorado support extending the critical Production Tax Credit for wind power, which sunsets at the end of the year. The PTC has been a key test for Republicans since the Iowa caucus in which the candidates strolled up to a giant wind blade and signed it, signaling their support of the subsidy in wind rich Iowa. Obama is pushing for its extension, taking his argument to the swing states that care about wind installations.

But beyond the near term politics of any one subsidy, the interesting aspect of Colorado is just that it wants total support of all energy possibilities. It wants energy at the center of federal policy. In that sense, it’s not particularly ideological and what is potentially troubling for Romney is that you don’t get the sense that the same old answers about increasing drilling and letting the market take care of itself are the kind of answers that will be satisfying to Democrats or Republicans.