Powering Colorado's Future
Ours is a state rich in resources—resources that provide stunning vistas and ample opportunity for recreation. But these resources also power our lives. Tucked into, around, and sometimes under Colorado's plains, foothills, and mountains are oil rigs, natural gas pumps, and coal mines, all of which have made our home one of the country's most prolific energy producers. This has not always been a good thing. In the 1980s, we went all-in on the oil-based economy—and suffered through a devastating recession when the industry went belly up. Today, with our wealth of traditional and renewable resources, along with the innovative and brilliant minds that are exploring new ways to generate and capitalize on them, Colorado is in a position to become the nation's energy leader. That's precisely why we've produced this special issue, which documents past mistakes, introduces the state's emerging assets, and looks ahead to a bright future. We are on the cusp of a brave new energy world. Here's a look at how we fit into the big picture.
Position of Power
By Senator Gary Hart
As America struggles with energy security, Denver can light the way.
By Julie Dugdale, Photography by Tyler Stableford
A look at the past, present, and future of Colorado's six most abundant sources of energy.
Feel the Lovins
By Philip Armour
After more than 30 years of hard work and little payoff, energy efficiency expert Amory Lovins is finally getting his due.
The Greening of the Governor
Interview by Cara Mcdonald
5280 talks with Governor Ritter about his vision for energy development, protecting Colorado's landscape, and the politics of power.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
By Lindsey B. Koehler
The American coal industry sits at the edge of a new era. Should Colorado's coal miners be worried?
Web Exclusive—Coal Slideshow
By Lindsey B. Koehler, Photography by Tyler Stableford
More then 2,000 coal miners toil underground in Colorado's dark mines. And each year they pull nearly 36 million tons of black gold from the earth to power up our iPods, plasma screens, and laptops. In Colorado, three out of every four times you flip a light switch, that glow is powered by coal. But the coal industry is, for the most part, out of sight and out of mind—even here in Colorado where we rank number seven in terms of production. We use energy often without thinking where it comes from. Here, in the following slides from Elk Creek Mine in Somerset, Colorado, you'll see the source. Our energy comes from coal miners. For more information, read "Between a Rock and a Hard Place" in 5280's November issue.
Out in the Cold
By Mike Kessler, Photography by Marc Piscotty
They are America's Cold War veterans. And they bravely endured years of radiation at Rocky Flats nuclear facility for a country that pledged to care for them. Instead, government loopholes are making sure those promises aren't kept.
Web Exclusive—Rocky Flats Resources
By Mike Kessler
Seven years ago, Congress passed a law admitting that nuclear weapons workers were exposed to radiation "without their knowledge or consent." The measure promised to compensate cancer-stricken ex-bomb builders with medical benefits and a lump sum of $150,000. But as former Rocky Flats workers are learning, the government is best at handing out one thing: denial.