GWC Distinguished Lecture – 2014 Are Colorado Public Lands Becoming a Sacrifice Zone for Oil and Gas?

Bruce Babbitt, Former Governor of AZ and Secretary of the Interior

Bruce Babbitt is a lifelong environmentalist and outdoorsman. Babbitt served as Arizona Governor from 1976-1987, successfully securing several wilderness designations. As Secretary of the Interior during the Clinton Administration, Babbitt launched a new era in wildlife protection by reintroducing wolves into Yellowstone National Park. Later, he reintroduced the California Condor to the Grand Canyon region. Babbitt also spearheaded Clinton’s ambitious program to protect expansive areas of federal lands as national monuments under the Antiquities Act. Clinton created 20 new monuments and expanded three existing monuments totaling nearly 8 million acres. The creation of these monuments protected some of the most contested and magnificent western landscapes, and this era stands as one of the highest points in conservation history.

Martz Winter Symposium 2014 Natural Resource Industries and the Sustainability Challenge

For more than two decades, sustainability has gained currency as a broad organizing principle for efforts to develop and use energy, natural resources, and the environment in ways that allow society to meet its needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. More recently, sustainability has been embraced by businesses across multiple sectors as part of a broader movement of corporate social responsibility. Hardly a day goes by without news of another corporate initiative on sustainability. Much of the enthusiasm for sustainability in the business community has been centered in “new economy” sectors and among retail giants such as Wal-Mart. Much of it has likewise been motivated by the realization that companies can actually save money by embracing more sustainable practices. 

In the traditional natural resources industries, there is an increasing recognition of the considerable challenges facing efforts to operationalize this broad concept in the context of resource extraction and development.  In the long run, the promise of sustainability will depend on the natural resource industries—those that provide energy, water, fiber, and raw materials for a growing population—translating this concept into action. 

This conference draws together people from different disciplines and backgrounds to discuss the specific challenges confronting efforts to operationalize sustainability in the context of natural resource industries broadly understood. The symposium will discuss the idea of sustainability and how it is taking shape in particular places and sectors; rigorously explore current efforts to re-organize certain business practices under the rubric of sustainability; and endeavor to identify practical, meaningful actions to deepen ongoing efforts to make sustainability a central tenet of our economic, social, and environmental future.