I am out in Denver for the convention this week, and am just amazed at the level of discussion around energy and environmental issues. At times it has felt more like a clean energy conference with politics in the background.
This is not just a steady, incremental increase in focus compared to past conventions - energy policy is now squarely at the center of the debate over America's future. The combination of global warming, energy prices, national security concerns, and, increasingly, the potential for green job creation has changed the public debate with lightning speed.
I've been at a whole host of discussions, receptions, panels, etc on aspects of the energy and environmental debate, with corporate leaders, environmental advocates, elected officials, labor leaders, and others. Many politicians are making energy the focus of their speeches (wasn't Gov. Schweizer (MT) great on Tuesday night?), and it is rare that a speech on any topic doesn't include a call to solve global warming and create green jobs.
Don't get me wrong - the status quo is certainly out in force. The coal industry is visible from the moment you step off the plane at the airport to ubiquitous paid people on the street passing out "clean coal" propoganda. The Illinois delegation goodie bag included a foam lump of "coal", a nice souvenir for the kids. However, elected officials here are generally on message that solutions lie in the future, not in the past. Solar, wind, and conservation are the applause-getters in speeches. As Illinoisans, we can all be proud that we have already passed some of the solutions leaders are talking about for America - like our 25% renewable energy requirement by 2025, or our major new energy efficiency programs that ComEd are preparing to roll out in response to 2007's clean energy law.
So tonight, there are lots of reasons to be proud to be from Illinois - let's keep it up!