Energy is all the rage at this year’s gathering
As David has noted, the thing to know about being in Denver right now is that it’s a madhouse. There are more people and events here than one could possibly imagine. And things are spread out all over the city. I logged six miles on the bike I borrowed from Freewheelin just running around downtown trying to get Grist’s convention credentials on the first day.
There’s too much to take in. Every street corner has three people vending homemade Obama paraphernalia. Truckloads of police officers speed past regularly, and it’s not really clear where they’re headed. Everyone who’s anyone in the Democratic Party is here (or at least everyone who thinks they’re someone). And as David and I mentioned before, there’s advertising for clean coal, natural gas, and oil everywhere you look.
There have been a number of press events on energy, including one yesterday held by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other representatives. “Barack Obama will lead the way to a new energy economy,” proclaimed Pelosi to a crowd gathered outside the train station yesterday. The obligatory band of pro-drilling protesters attempted to drown them out, shouting “drill, drill, drill!” over the speakers and waving McCain signs.
What’s been most surprising, though, is how much the issues of climate and energy have been raised at the convention. There are plenty of events sponsored by outside groups and companies, but even within the official convention, it’s been talked about more than any issue, I’d venture — even more than Iraq. Most speakers have mentioned it at least in passing. And last night, though the theme was “the economy,” sound energy policy as a means of addressing the nation’s economic problems came up over and over again. Virginia Senate candidate Mark Warner and Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer made it central to their speeches, with Schweitzer absolutely galvanizing the house with his speech on the subject.
I’ve run into several convention attendees who marveled at the billing these issues are getting this year. One woman confided on the bus today that she’d never heard the phrase “green-collar jobs” until this week — and what a great idea it was. So while talk doesn’t guarantee action, and all talk isn’t necessarily good talk (“clean coal” shilling, anyone?), the degree to which it has dominated the conversation here seems to bode well in terms of getting party activists more involved in the issue.
And then there are the parties. We’ve hit a few evening after-parties with environment and energy themes. The first was sponsored by the Bipartisan Policy Center, which is where Barack Obama’s energy adviser, Jason Grumet, works. Then we wandered over to the Vestas/American Wind Energy Association party. There was also a “Clean Tech for Obama” reception yesterday, and then last night’s League of Conservation Voters show with Death Cab for Cutie. Green and greenish events are everywhere.