By Mike McKibbin / NewsBreak Denver / Aug. 11, 2023
[DOUGLAS COUNTY, COLO.] — What do your elected officials think about climate change?
Castle Rock resident Katie Barrett, who described herself as an environmentalist and science teacher, wanted to know.
So, she asked the three Republican Douglas County Commissioners on Tuesday if they believe in climate change. Two of the commissioners answered; Commissioner Lora Thomas did not respond. It’s uncommon for the commissioners to react immediately after listening to public comments.
Barrett asked the commissioners to form a study group and look into asking home builders to include solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations in all new houses they build in the county. With just 15 seconds left to speak, Barrett asked her question.
Teal: ‘No, unless it’s factual’
Commissioner George Teal said when he is asked whether he believes in science, he thinks of the country’s founders.
“I think they’d likely say no unless it’s factual,” he stated.
Teal added he didn’t blame anyone for coming to a different conclusion but said he didn’t "ascribe to an element of belief, an element of faith,” in science.
“So, no, I guess I don’t believe in climate change,” he stated.
Noting this year’s abundance of early summer rainfall after a 20-year drought, Teal said when warming events occur, “a lot of rain” follows.
“There probably is global warming going on,” he added. “But you also have the El Nino and La Nina weather changes that research has shown go back every 30 years for 40,000 years.”
Solar power plan backed by Teal
Teal also discussed a pending solar power proposal from CORE, a Douglas County electrical co-operative, that he was “100% in favor of.”
“It would be on CORE property and parts of Cherokee Ranch property,” he said. “I like their plan; it’s a great experiment.”
CORE has yet to present its plan to the county for approval, Teal added.
He also said since the Earth is round, sunlight hits different areas at different longitudes, latitudes and elevations, so it may produce solar power at different rates in different regions.
“The reality is an awful lot of ultra-violent radiation is hitting the ground right now,” Teal stated. “But the way it hits the ground is different here than in Phoenix, upstate New York, or Southern California. I like the CORE plan because they’re an electrical provider, and they can determine what they can do to generate solar power right here in this environment.”
“A lot of the solar radiation that hits the earth is in places where there are no people,” Teal continued. “Places like Patagonia and the Mojave desert. The Germans have invested immensely in solar and wind over the last 10 years. But the sun doesn’t shine in Germany, and the wind doesn’t blow in Bavaria very much.”
Teal said he would be willing to take Barrett’s request for a study group under advisement and noted if the county imposes any new requirements on home builders, higher housing costs would be passed along.
Laydon: Climate change a ‘political football’
Commissioner Abe Laydon said he did believe in climate change. He noted the last couple of years have seen a “tipping point” where the cost of renewable energy is much more affordable than traditional fossil fuels.
“No doubt there’s an active conversation to have that I don’t see as partisan to see what solar power might look like to have it built in, baked into the marketing and purchase options for residential development,” Laydon said.
Laydon, who previously said he drives an electric vehicle, also stated Douglas County has the highest penetration of electric vehicle usage than any other county in Colorado.
“We all care about air and water quality,” he said. “Climate change has become a political football, but I don’t think there’s any doubt there are a variety of significant issues we can work on.”