"We can work together on this. Let's help farmers and ranchers stave off subdivisions by helping them do New Energy developments. Let's take action on global warming, and reduce Western wildfires and drought. Let's slow the oil and gas rush. Let's heal the wounds in the federal agencies, by freeing them from the corruption so often found under Old Energy.

"Add New Energy projects to the farm bill, for better rural diversification. Add New Energy projects to private land conservation deals. Add New Energy projects to mining law reform, because mined land is already disturbed. Generate power with the methane vented from coal mines rather than just put it into the air.

"Together we can preserve the West's values and lead the nation and the world on a better, cleaner path. Join me, Westerners, on the new frontier.

Ray Ring is High Country News senior editor.


"There is a national interest in developing renewable energy, the same way there was a national interest many years ago to electrify rural areas. One can make a plausible argument that the federal government should underwrite part of the cost of new transmission wires to renewable resources. And the West is the mother lode for renewables."

Doug Larson, director of the Western Interstate Energy Board, which is affiliated with the Western Governors' Association.


"People are advocating on energy issues in stovepipes (narrowly). Wind people work on wind, solar people work on solar, some environmentalists work against coal and oil and gas, some are for clean coal technologies, some are for or against new transmission lines. ... We really need a roadmap saying this is how we're going to meet our energy needs and carbon (control) needs."

Rich Halvey, director of the Western Governors' Association Clean and Diversified Energy project.


"We're going to drill more than 200,000 new oil and gas wells in the Rocky Mountain West in the next 20 years - that's a given. We're the only region where primary energy production (from fossil fuels) is increasing, and the nation is going to add 30 million people in the next 10 years. The evisceration of Western landscapes, wildlife, and air and water could accelerate if we develop uranium, oil shale, and coal-to-liquids power plants. What really needs to change is this idea that fossil fuels are infinite."

 Randy Udall, energy consultant in Colorado


"The West is farthest along in developing geothermal power. The region has 2.8 gigawatts of geothermal online now, and it's poised to double that within two or three years. We have projects going in nearly every Western state. We need the next president to have a bold vision of where we need to go, and more stable, long-term policies to encourage markets."

Karl Gawell, director of the Geothermal Energy Association, based in Washington, D.C.


"We've always been opposed to building unnecessary transmission lines. But there's a ton of necessary transmission that needs to happen now. If we are serious, as an environmental community, about the potential for renewable fuels to replace fossil fuels, we have to make this happen. ... Because frankly, all of the things we've fought for ... all of that work is threatened by global warming and climate change."

Carl Zichella, Sierra Club regional director for California, Nevada and Hawaii.


"Building and operating a solar plant creates about as many jobs as a coal plant of the same size. If we have policies that require carbon sequestration, or a carbon tax, then solar power would make even more sense (becoming as cheap or cheaper than coal power)."

Mark Mehos, head of the solar-power program at the National Renewable Energy Lab in Colorado.


"We need the next president to work with Congress to pass a law to allow tribes to get the same tax incentives that private wind developers get (roughly 2 cents per kilowatt hour, reimbursed to the developer). The opportunity to build sustainable economies on Indian reservations is tremendous. We've got 65 to 80 percent unemployment in Indian country. This is where those new jobs (in wind and solar plants) can make a difference."

Bob Gough, secretary of the Intertribal Council on Utility Policy, a group of 13 tribes in the Dakotas, Wyoming and Nebraska.