Governor Bill Ritter takes a great deal of pride in having coined the phrase “New Energy Economy” to describe the raft of expensive energy policies his administration has pushed through the General Assembly. Earlier this year in Aspen, for example, Governor Ritter noted that, “If you Google it [the phrase “New Energy Economy], I think I was the first to say it.”
In light of Governor Ritter’s evident desire to be associated with the phrase, it’s somewhat interesting (in a gossipy sort of way) that former Colorado Senator Tim Wirth seemed to go out of his way to label Colorado’s energy policies as anything but the “New Energy Economy” in an oped last week in the Denver Post. [To see my response to Senator Wirth’s oped, click here.]
Twice, Senator Wirth referenced the State’s “clean energy economy,” but there was no mention of the “New Energy Economy.” Moreover, Wirth seemed to take pains to diminish Governor Ritter’s leadership. Before noting the Governor’s contributions (in the last paragraph), Senator Wirth praised the “guidance” offered by the electorate, the “admirable leadership” demonstrated by Xcel, and “bipartisan” work of the legislature. And when he finally did mention the Governor, Senator Wirth minimized Ritter’s contributions by saying that the Colorado executive worked “collaboratively” with the General Assembly, “as they have throughout the remarkable transition to a clean energy economy.”
Of course, Senator Wirth’s apparent reluctance to say the phrase, “New Energy Economy,” could signify nothing. Then again, in the ultra-sensitive, ego-driven world of big-time politics, words matter. More to the point: Attribution of credit matters. Could it be that Senator Wirth, whose political legacy is founded on his environmentalist record, is peeved that Governor Ritter’s New Energy Economy is stealing his thunder?
William Yeatman is an energy policy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.