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Conservation Colorado outlines 2024 legislative priorities to address air pollution, drought and support communities across Colorado

DENVER — As the 2024 Colorado Legislative Session convenes, Conservation Colorado, the largest statewide environmental organization in the state, outlined an ambitious agenda, focusing on our priority issues: fighting climate change, conserving public lands, keeping Colorado’s rivers healthy and flowing, and working with communities to ensure all Coloradans have equitable access to a healthy environment. 

Conservation Colorado’s top legislative priorities for 2024:

Climate Change

Transportation is the largest source of climate pollution across Colorado and in the country. And while Colorado is one of the best states to buy an electric car and the fifth top state for EV sales, the state will not  meet its climate pollution reduction goals without providing more clean and affordable transportation options like access to rail, bus, bikes and walkability.

This legislative session, one of our top climate priorities will be land use reforms to support greener and more affordable housing options that are better connected to transportation. Colorado needs state laws to promote efficient and affordable development, reduce urban sprawl, and improve transportation options in order to conserve energy, water, land, and reduce pollution. 

Ensuring greener and more affordable housing options that are better connected to transportation  affects all Coloradans, including aging seniors who want to downsize, young people living on their own, and first-time homebuyers who can’t find homes because they are too expensive and limited. 

We also must ensure the land use reforms promote affordable and stable housing and prevent displacement due to rising land values and rents.

Air pollution

This year we’ll prioritize reducing air pollution to improve our state’s air quality by supporting bills that put at the forefront the health and safety of all Coloradans, especially disproportionately impacted communities.

Colorado has failed to comply with federal clean air standards for over a decade, and the Front Range is now recognized as one of the worst regions for ozone in the country.

Bad air quality hurts everyone, especially low-income and communities of color, who face disproportionate health impacts. For example, counties in Colorado with high Latine populations see higher rates of asthma-related hospitalizations.

In addition, oil and gas emissions are the largest source of pollution in the state. Legislative action is needed to clean up pollution from oil and gas operations and other sectors and to ensure our state processes proactively tackle ozone pollution. 

By 2025, the average number of ozone related premature deaths attributable to oil and gas emissions in Colorado is estimated to be 70 deaths which is the equivalent of 1.9 premature deaths per 100,000 people. 

Drought and Water Quality

Seven in ten voters want Colorado to take more aggressive action to address drought. That’s not surprising when you consider that recently we’ve been facing the worst drought in over 1,000 years. 

Scientists say it will only get worse – and as our water supply is shrinking, our population will continue to grow. Last year’s snow and rain helped, but with rising temperatures and even worse droughts to come, we need to reduce water use now to protect our rivers and streams for years to come.

Particularly hard hit is the Colorado River which has had a  20% reduction in its water flow since 2000. 

Colorado should lead on water conservation and take cooperative action with other states in the West to come to a solution that conserves water across the Colorado River Basin and makes us more resilient to drought.Our priorities this session include demanding bold, immediate action to protect our state’s water resources, ecosystems and communities as well as protecting the state’s streams and wetlands to sustain clean water, diverse wildlife and a balanced climate, directly benefiting local communities and economies.