2020 Recap: Big Wins for our Lands, Water, and People

It’s difficult to look back and celebrate victories that happened this year. COVID-19 has devastated families and our normal day-to-day lives. Yet, we are resilient and we were able to come together and achieve monumental victories that will benefit future generations. The pandemic’s disproportionate impact on Black and Brown communities highlights the importance of climate action and the need to work towards environmental justice.

Conservation Colorado, with the steadfast support of its members, was able to move the conservation agenda leaps and bounds forward to address the urgent problems caused by climate change, while bringing equity and justice to the forefront — but there is more work to be done. These victories belong to all Coloradans, and we are reminded that this is only possible with grassroots organizing and people power.

In 2020 we…

  • Expanded the pro-conservation majority in the state Senate, setting the stage for major strides on climate policy in the coming year.
  • Maintained the pro-conservation state House majority and added some new champions to the roster.
  • Flipped the Arapahoe county commission to a pro-conservation majority and defended pro-conservation commission majorities in Adams, Gunnison, Jefferson, and La Plata, many of which are top oil and gas producing counties.
  • Passed strong local ballot measures including Denver’s nationally significant initiative to increase climate funding, two measures to keep our rivers healthy and flowing, and protect clean drinking water.
  • Passed reforms — including 2,000 feet setbacks — to reduce emissions and ensure, when it comes to oil and gas drilling in Colorado, that health, safety and our environment are prioritized above oil and gas industry profits.
  • Shaped Governor Jared Polis’ climate roadmap through technical expertise and by showing that Coloradans demand equitable action to hit the targets of our state’s landmark Climate Action Plan.
  • Won our first major communities and justice policy campaign — a suite of three bills that will increase fines on corporate polluters, give regulators the tools they need, and better protect public health and safety.
  • Supported SB-217, Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity, a key piece of legislation that included many policies the ACLU and others had worked on for many years to ensure appropriate oversight and accountability of law enforcement in Colorado.
  • Secured several important water policy victories at the state level, including an instream flow bill that will protect fish habitat and recreation opportunities by keeping water in rivers when it’s needed most, and a bill that requires local municipalities’ master plans to include water conservation planning.
  • Worked to pass the CORE Act through the U.S. House of Representatives — twice — with bipartisan support, a critical step toward finally protecting 400,000 acres of unique Colorado landscape.

What’s on the horizon?

Now, the work to build back better begins.

We once again have an ally in the White House with President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. They are already upholding their commitment to tackling climate change by nominating leaders within their cabinet who will work tirelessly to meet our goals for net zero carbon emissions. Just like previous years, it’s up to Colorado to show the way forward on bold climate action and justice. We must set a national example by hitting our climate targets, implementing oil and gas reforms, leading on the goal of protecting 30 percent of our land and water over the next decade, and directly confronting the impacts of environmental racism in our state.

In 2021, we must double down on Colorado’s pro-conservation leadership, which means:

  • Passing policies to ensure we hit the targets in Colorado’s Climate Action Plan by enacting Governor Polis’ pollution reduction roadmap.
  • Taking steps toward the science-based vision of protecting and restoring 30 percent of our lands and water by 2030.
  • Supporting a broad equity agenda, including laying a foundation for environmental justice at all levels of government. 

These ambitious and achievable goals are possible with your help. Will you make a contribution today to help us meet these goals in 2021?