How Bill Ritter Went From Offense to Defense During Senate Testimony

July 22 2009, 11:08 AM

ritter-bill1In testimony to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works yesterday, Governor Bill Ritter expected to shine. And for a moment, he did. "The new energy economy is energizing Colorado's entire economy, even in the worst downturn in 75 years," Ritter told lawmakers (via the Denver Business Journal). "This didn't happen by accident. It happened through a concerted and aggressive effort, and the new jobs we're creating are real and they are happening in every corner of Colorado." Then things turned unexpectedly nasty. U.S. Senator Kit Bond, a Missouri Republican, noted that state and local officials plunked down nearly $32 million in incentives and tax breaks to attract a Denmark-based Vestas wind turbine factory to Pueblo. "What I do know is that the citizens and taxpayers in my state don't want their energy taxes raised or other jobs killed to pay for green jobs," Bond said (via Face the State), leaving Ritter to later clarify to reporters that "many of those kinds of incentives would be available not just to Vestas but would be available to a steel company if it were going to be put up."

In a conference call, Ritter said he was surprised by partisan remarks from U.S. Senator James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, who suggested Ritter shouldn't be at the hearing. "One of the things [Inhofe] said was, ‘How can you be here when you have such significant oil shale deposits?' We very much support the [research and development] projects in the northwest part of the state where there's vast deposits of oil shale," Ritter replied (via The Colorado Independent).