Getting Americans to Change Energy Habits Will Be Costly, Says Udall

Colorado Congressman Mark Udall meets with students on energy issue

Published: 12-Jan-2004

N class=body2>Energy and petroleum were on the minds of a few teen-agers Thursday when they had the chance ask questions of Eagle County's Congressman, U.S. Rep. Mark Udall.

The Boulder-based Democrat visited with about six Eagle County high school juniors and seniors at the Vail Town Hall to discuss what's going on in the nation that might affect them and their future.

Every year, Udall invites students from his district to participate in the program as a way to engage high schoolers with the government. The task force meets every three weeks to discuss topics important to students and to help students learn more about how they can influence the legislation in Congress.

Students Thursday were focused on gas prices and energy. Udall told them energy will begin to be produced in a variety of ways by power plants and some of the techniques being introduced are "quite visionary."

"Almost everywhere people look, there's carbon in the fuel," he said, "and there's a lot carbon can do to lead."

The cost of gas varies from Boulder to the High Country. Udall said he paid about $1.65 per gallon in Boulder.

One student quipped: "Not up here." Gas in the Vail Valley can be anywhere from 5 cents to 10 cents more expensive, if not higher.

Meanwhile the nation has become so dependent on fuels that some companies are looking at alternatives, such as clean-coal energies to reduce harmful emissions, Udall said. But clean-coal energies that keep the environment cleaner are costly, he added.

One company to watch is BP - Beyond Petroleum, Udall told the students. The company's long-range plan is to provide electric power out of "gas stations." The company is building gas stations where hybrid electric cars can power up. The company is also using other alternatives, such as solar energy, to save money, Udall said.

"The idea is to educate the consumer," Udall said. "These companies are making a large commitment to solar power. And I think it's very visionary, because they're looking at a 50-, 70- to 100-year time frame. They're not only thinking day-to-day but month-to-month. They're also looking at the long-term and external costs."

While the costs in developing the technology might be high, one student

said it was switching to the new technologies that will be more expensive.

Marketing the new technologies to get Americans to change their habits of energy use will certainly be costly, Udall said, adding not only will that cost money, but it will also take time.

"There's substantial costs to transitioning," Udall said. "We're the primary consumer in the world. It's easier to develop the technology for energy companies in small populations -such as in Europe - because the transition is easier. They don't use as much energy as we do because they use other forms of transportation. They walk more and ride their bikes.

"We have the technology to do it," he added, "but it's just the transitioning that's causing the problems."

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