Conservation Colorado’s 2023 legislative priorities will focus on air quality, water and affordable housing
DENVER, Jan. 9, 2023 — Conservation Colorado, the largest statewide environmental organization in Colorado, will play a leading role this legislative session to make sure all Coloradans have clean air, a reliable supply of clean water, and affordable housing near clean transportation options.
These priorities will help tackle both the causes and the impacts of climate change.The passage of the federal Inflation Reduction Act in 2022 gives us a path to a livable climate future, and building upon that bill, Colorado is positioned to be a leader in the nation to secure that future.
“Colorado has been a bright spot for progress on climate, conservation, and environmental justice in the nation,” said John Magnino, Conservation Colorado’s Government Affairs Director. “Colorado voters overwhelmingly elected pro-conservation state leaders and expect them to act with urgency to protect our climate, air, water, and communities.”
In Colorado, water demand is growing, but water supply is not. Climate change and dropping reservoir levels threaten water for homes, businesses, and healthy rivers.
This year, Conservation Colorado will help lead legislation to make Colorado more resilient to drought and to address the root causes of poor water quality, especially for disproportionately impacted communities.
Currently, the state is not conserving water at the scale and pace it must in order to ensure that we have enough clean water. Colorado needs new water management tools that are flexible, proactive, responsive, and locally-controlled for a more secure water supply.
Conservation Colorado will work on legislation to address sources of ozone pollution that are hurting our communities and public health.
Despite the state’s progress on climate change, it is still off track on hitting climate targets, and too many Coloradans are still breathing unhealthy air. For the last decade, ozone has been Colorado’s worst air quality problem and has worsened in recent summers, in part due to climate change.
Oil and gas is the biggest contributor to the state’s ozone problem, and current state plans will not clean up air to meet federal health standards.
“Communities on the frontlines of pollution—which include people of color and low-income people—have suffered the worst impacts of Colorado’s air quality crisis, and high levels of ozone only worsen the health impacts they experience from other types of pollution,” said Magnino.
Affordable and sustainable housing
Right now, Colorado doesn’t have nearly enough affordable homes to meet the diverse needs of its residents. Current policies are a barrier to more affordable housing that can be built in existing cities and towns near clean public transportation. This causes sprawling development patterns that harm the environment and people’s health.
Because the transportation sector is the largest contributor to Colorado’s climate emissions, it is important to increase housing affordability and reduce pollution from cars. Residents need the option to live in places where they can walk, bike, and take public transportation.
For the first time, Conservation Colorado will be working with a coalition of environmental and housing advocates to set a new vision for Colorado’s approach to land use.
“We need to update our statewide land use policies to help address the climate crisis, ensure stable and affordable housing for all, and make people’s communities more equitable and just,” added Magnino.
The public can email their state senator and representative today and urge them to prioritize action to address climate change and protect the environment in the 2023 legislative session at https://go.conservationco.org/e/773293/EikW2w0/2zwd9g/1872314098?h=ebkqfSbEvy1A4rfXfKqUbpjsEIygeORQ5jgxdATZlZo.