The one question Udall seemed to stumble on concerned the downsides of corn-based ethanol, an alternative fuel that has been criticized for taking almost as much energy to produce as it produces. However, corn ethanol is strongly supported by agricultural interests and politically influential Iowa voters.
Ali Sabeti, a retired senior adviser of the World Bank who lives in Durango, asked Udall how long it would take Washington to end subsidies for corn ethanol.
"If anybody wants to help me out with this question, I'd appreciate your help," Udall joked. The congressman recovered quickly, saying the government should promote research into cellulosic ethanol to provide a greater balance.
Would it be too much to ask Mark Udall to be consistent when he talks about corn ethanol? When he talks to knowledgeable energy executives, as he did in Durango, he is skeptical. When he talks to farmers, he is enthusiastic. When scientists at CSU criticize it, he calls it a "bridge."
He is a green extremist whose positions don't make sense, even to him. Regardless, he wants to shove the Colorado economy into an uncertain future of his own design.