15th Annual Wirth Chair Sustainability Awards Luncheon honors those ‘getting it right’

The Colorado Statesman

Former U.S. Sen. Tim Wirth welcomed guests and honorees to the 15th Annual Wirth Chair Sustainability Awards Luncheon on June 16 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Denver. The awards luncheon was sponsored by the University of Colorado chair in Environmental and Community Development Policy established in 1993 to honor Wirth.

Mark Safty, who is the current occupant of the Wirth chair, honored individuals, organizations and entire industries for their achievements helping balance economic, environmental and social welfare objectives, which are the stated purposes of the chair.

Maggie Fox, Wren Wirth and Susan Daggett smile for the camera at the Wirth Sustainability Awards luncheon on June 16 in Denver. Their husbands — Mark Udall, Tim Wirth and Michael Bennet, respectively — have been or are Democrats representing Colorado in the U.S. Senate.

The theme of this year’s annual Wirth Chair Awards luncheon was “Getting it Right.”

Aaron Harber and Tim Wirth celebrate sustainability at the Wirth Chair awards luncheon in the former U.S. senator’s honor on June 16 in Denver.

“Building public trust is very, very hard work,” said former U.S. Sen. Timothy Wirth, who gave the keynote address at the event. He cited leaders at three oil and gas companies — Noble Energy, Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Encana Corp. — for representing “three of the most responsible energy companies” and working hard with government leaders and environmental organizations to develop meaningful regulations for safe oil and gas development.

State Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter and former Colorado First Lady Dottie Lamm catch up at the Wirth Chair Sustainability Awards luncheon on June 16 in Denver.

The Wirth chair honored state Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, who authored the legislation that created the Colorado Youth Advisory Council, which provides a forum for students to become engaged with the Colorado General Assembly. Roberts shared her award with COYAC and Engaged Public, which manages the council. Denver Business Journal reporter Cathy Proctor, who also edits the weekly Energy, Inc.

Daniel Ritchie, Jim Carpenter and state Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, visit at the conclusion of the 15th Annual Wirth Chair Sustainability Awards luncheon.

“I’m here today because Gov. John Hickenlooper challenged the energy community and NGO’s to come up with workable solutions to the problems created by intense oil and gas development in the state,” said Brown, who accepted the award on behalf of industry groups.

Former U.S. Rep. David Skaggs and University of Colorado history professor Patricia Limerick are among those attending the 15th Annual Wirth Chair Sustainability Awards luncheon.

Brown spoke of the challenge of protecting the environment as well as the 30,000 jobs directly related to oil and gas development in the state. The ultimate agreement among the groups “turned out beyond my expectations. Science and technology drove the outcome.”

Ted Brown, vice president of Noble Energy, was among those receiving awards for his company’s role in establishing methane standards in Colorado. House Majority Leader Dickie Lee Hullinghorst, D-Boulder, is at right.

The Noble Energy executive also said the process for developing the air quality rules was “a much better way (to resolve differences) than through a constitutional amendment,” and called for attendees to “stand with the governor to find a solution” to the dispute between the oil and gas industry and groups who advocate for local control of drilling operations.

Ackermann praised both sides in the negotiations for their “collaborative thinking” throughout the arduous process of developing the air quality rules.

Grossman said the air quality rules are a “model for the nation.” Hickenlooper, he said, “set a very high standard. He said Colorado should be the leader in the nation on regulating oil and gas … to achieve zero methane emissions.”

“But let’s not make the mistake of thinking we’re done. This is really a starting point,” said Grossman, who represented the environmental community in accepting the award.

Wirth, a Democrat, was first elected to the suburban 2nd Congressional District seat in 1974 and won the Senate seat vacated by Gary Hart in 1986. He declined to seek a second term in 1992 and was named the next year to be the inaugural undersecretary for global affairs by President Bill Clinton. Upon leaving the State Department, Wirth was tapped by Ted Turner to serve as the first president of the U.N. Foundation, a post he held until last year when he stepped down to serve as vice chairman of the nonprofit.

Two professors at the CU School of Public Affairs, Tanya Heikkila and Chris Weible, presented results of an analysis of the politics of hydraulic fracturing in the state, showing the differences between various players in Colorado far less pronounced than they are in other parts of the country. Representatives of the research team planned to discuss the results of their study at 6 p.m. on July 1 at the Wynkoop Brewing Company.

Colorado Conservation Voters executive director Pete Maysmith and CU Board of Regents candidate Linda Shoemaker, right, are among the guests at the 15th Annual Wirth Chair Sustainability Awards luncheon on June 16 in Denver.
Helen Phillips and Bob Drake catch up at the Wirth Chair Sustainability Awards luncheon in Denver.



Mark Safty, who holds the Wirth Chair in Sustainable Energy at the University of Colorado, and Denver Business Journal reporter Cathy Proctor, visit at the Wirth Chair Sustainability Awards luncheon on June 16 in Denver.
Karen Rokala, Jo Bryant and Carol Friend, who helped Tim Wirth during his first campaign for Congress 40 years ago, are among those in attendance at the 15th Annual Wirth Chair Sustainability Awards luncheon on June 16 at the Four Seasons in Denver.



Lisa Gilford and CU Board of Regents candidate Linda Shoemaker visit at the Wirth Sustainability Awards luncheon.
Chris Adams, Denver Manager of Environmental Health Doug Linklater and state Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, celebrate sustainability at the Wirth Chair Sustainability Awards luncheon. Roberts received an award along with the Colorado Youth Advisory Council and Engaged Public for sponsoring the legislation that offers high school students an opportunity to participate in the legislative process.
Photos by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman


Ernest@coloradostatesman.com