Credit Jared Polis for taking advantage of the holiday to remind Colorado voters he’s running for governor next year with a pledge to move the state to 100 percent renewable energy by 2040.
He released a video for Independence Day to talk about energy independence.
The Democrat from Boulder is risking a lot by giving up a safe congressional seat he’s held for four terms to face a packed field of candidates in his own party, in addition to a stable of Republicans next year.
The 2040 pledge is even bolder, since the longest Polis would be governor would be January 2027.
Last year, renewable energy accounted for about 22 percent of the state’s energy supply, with coal fueling 55 percent and natural gas with 23 — but a lot can happen in 23 years.
More to the point, Polis, one of the founding members of the political left’s rise in Colorado, is staking out a beachhead on the environment. He nearly sank Gov. John Hickenlooper’s 2014 re-election by threatening to get a ban on fracking on the ballot that November.
While such a strong message plays well in Polis’ left-leaning congressional district, it also will have to play well along the entire Front Range to lift Polis above the gubernatorial fray. An anti-energy message will be a challenge on the Western Slope and in rural Colorado, but Democrats traditionally don’t do well there.
The energy industry directly employs more than 70,000 Coloradans, and indirectly supports another 204,000 jobs, according to the state Energy Office.
He said in a statement he’s backing renewable energy “for our health, jobs that can’t be outsourced, our national security, more affordable energy, and do to our part to combat climate change.”
In the House, Polis is chairman of a caucus called the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, which includes another 2018 gubernatorial candidate, Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Arvada.
The advocacy group Environment Colorado plans to recognize Polis at his Boulder office Thursday for getting a perfect score on last month’s Environment America Scorecard. Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver also scored 100 percent, while Perlmutter got 90 percent. The state’s Republican congressional members all got zeroes.
Polis isn’t the first to take the 100 percent renewable energy pledge. Another Democratic candidate for governor, former Sen. Mike Johnston of Denver, made the same promise in a June 11 video.