Today, the Colorado Supreme Court released its ruling on Martinez vs. Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission, retaining the status quo of an under-regulated industry.

In response, Kelly Nordini, executive director of Conservation Colorado, released the following statement:

“For too long, Coloradans asking for stronger health and safety protections have lost at the legislature, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and in the courts. That needs to change.

“Today’s Martinez decision is yet another reminder that we need to tilt the balance back in favor of Coloradans’ health and safety. With a new administration in place, we look forward to working with Governor Polis, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and legislative leaders to reform this broken system and put our communities first.”

Background on the Case

In 2013, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez and several other young Coloradans asked the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to adopt a regulation stating that no drilling permits will be issued without a finding that drilling can occur without impairing Colorado’s air, water, and wildlife and that it does not adversely affect public health. The COGCC denied the request, holding that it lacked legal authority to issue such a rule. In March 2017, the Colorado Court of Appeals set aside the COGCC’s decision. The Court held that state law makes “protection of public health, safety and welfare, including protection of the environment and wildlife resources” a prerequisite for approving oil and gas development. While rejecting the COGCC’s legal interpretation, the Court did not address whether the agency should adopt the specific rule language requested by the Martinez plaintiffs. Today, the Colorado Supreme Court issued a ruling overturning the appeal and siding with the COGCC.

Written by Audrey Wheeler

We are living during a pivotal moment for the protection of Colorado’s environment. With the opening of Colorado’s legislature and Governor Jared Polis being sworn in, we will enter the legislative session following a new era of leaders who were elected on their promises to protect our air, land, water, and people.

According to a survey of Colorado voters taken just after November’s elections, the environment was a major factor for voters’ choices. When asked which policy issue was “most important” in their vote for governor, 42 percent of independents chose “energy and the environment” as one of their top two options – the most of any issue tested. In other words, it wasn’t the economy, healthcare, education, immigration, or taxes that rose to the top for Colorado voters — it was energy and environment.

Coloradans voted for pro-conservation champions to lead our state government, so now we have the opportunity to pass bold policies that will protect our future! This year holds a lot of promise for taking steps to protect our air, land, water, and people. With Governor Jared Polis at the helm — who won his race on a platform of 100 percent renewable energy — we are gearing up for strong leadership from Colorado.

In 2019, we aim to make Colorado a leader on climate action, prioritize the health and safety of communities over oil and gas, and protect our lands and waters.

Our biggest efforts for climate action will be:


  • Taking bold action to protect our climate. A recent report from the United Nations found we have 12 years to act to prevent disastrous climate change. Colorado can lead the nation toward a clean energy economy. Xcel Energy’s recent commitment to a carbon-free energy grid by 2050 is a great start, and we can do more for our climate. As our executive director, Kelly Nordini, said in a recent news story: “Carbon’s a pollutant. We need to set a limit on that pollution and say as a state how we’re going to limit that carbon pollution.”
  • Making sure health, safety, and the environment are put first when it comes to oil and gas development. The oil and gas industry has had far too much influence over political and regulatory processes in Colorado. We need to put the health and safety of our communities first and have the best safeguards in the West.
  • Protecting the public lands, rivers, and streams that make Colorado a great place to live. As our population grows, we need to make sure our public lands are preserved, our rivers keep flowing, and our wild places are accessible for everyone to enjoy.

Learn more about these goals and how we plan to reach them at Colorado Conservation Future.

With these policies, we can take our future into our own hands. We can move forward on Colorado climate action, making our state a leader for the nation on clean air and climate change, as well as with safeguards that put people ahead of oil and gas industry profits. Let’s work together to seize this opportunity to protect the state we all love.

The time to shape our future is now.

Cómo Colorado está listo para liderar sobre el medio ambiente.

Condujo 1.800 megavatios de energía limpia. Cortar la contaminación de los coches. Organizó miles de coloradenses para hacer frente a la administración de Trump. Ganó 53 elecciones, eligiendo más mujeres y personas de color que nunca en Colorado. Cuando hacemos una pausa y miramos hacia atrás, está claro que nuestro 2018 fue bastante agitado.

Construir un movimiento requiere muchos pequeños éxitos. Y este año, con el apoyo de nuestros muchos voluntarios, donantes y activistas dedicados, logramos mucho para proteger el medio ambiente de Colorado.

Primero, ponemosmás tiempo, dinero y esfuerzo para elegir líderes pro-conservación que nunca antes — y dio sus frutos! ¡Participamos en la elección de Jared Polis como gobernador y en la elección de mayorías a favor de la conservación en la legislatura de Colorado!
But election victories aren’t the only thing we accomplished this year.

Energia y clima


  • Ayudamos a traer más energía limpia y renovable a Colorado a través del Plan de Energía de Colorado de Xcel Energy. Esto ahorrará aproximadamente $ 213 millones para los consumidores de energía, reemplazando dos centrales eléctricas de carbón que usan energía renovable, recursos de gas natural existentes (pero no nuevos), y duplicando la cantidad de almacenamiento de batería que actualmente está bajo contrato en todo el país. Enviamos casi 10,000 comentarios públicos (un nuevo récord) a la Comisión de Servicios Públicos para hacer de este plan una realidad.
  • Trabajamos para aprobar un proyecto de ley que apoya a las comunidades rurales impactadas por la crisis económica, como una gran industria que se está yendo. El proyecto de ley “REACT” proporciona una coordinación y recursos muy necesarios para que las agencias estatales ayuden a las comunidades rurales. Lo hace designando una agencia estatal específica, el Departamento de Asuntos Locales, para coordinar la asistencia económica.

Transporte


  • Hicimos grandes movimientos para limpiar la contaminación de los autos en Colorado. En noviembre, Colorado se convirtió en el primer estado interior en aprobar los estándares de vehículos de baja emisión para automóviles y camiones, lo que reducirá la contaminación de los tubos de escape, ayudará a los residentes de Colorado a respirar más fácilmente y ahorrará dinero para las familias en la bomba. Elogiamos al gobernador Hickenlooper cuando inició el proceso con una orden ejecutiva en junio, y trajimos información de más de 7,600 coloradenses a la agencia a cargo.
  • Participamos en la aprobación de un proyecto de ley para aumentar la financiación del transporte, una necesidad que ha aumentado a medida que la población de Colorado ha crecido. Un verdadero compromiso, este proyecto de ley de financiamiento del transporte incluye fondos estatales flexibles que invierten en opciones de tránsito, bicicletas y peatones, así como en carreteras y caminos. La SB 001 proporciona fondos para todas las partes del estado para disminuir la congestión, promover la equidad y reducir la contaminación del aire.

Desierto y tierras públicas


  • Nos asociamos con el senador estadounidense Michael Bennet y el representante Jared Polis para presentar un proyecto de ley en ambas cámaras del Congreso para proteger permanentemente 96,000 acres en el Bosque Nacional White River, incluido Camp Hale como el primer Paisaje Histórico Nacional. El Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness y Camp Hale Act protegerán la belleza natural, la recreación al aire libre, los recursos históricos y el hábitat de la vida silvestre en el bosque nacional más ocupado de la nación.
  • Apoyamos un proyecto de ley para volver a autorizar la lotería de Colorado para continuar financiando la recreación al aire libre y la conservación de la tierra. A través de este programa, Great Outdoors Colorado ha devuelto más de $ 1.1 mil millones a la gente de Colorado a través de proyectos como parques y senderos comunitarios en los 64 condados de Colorado.
  • Movilizamos a miles de coloradenses para que hablaran ante la administración de Trump, enviamos comentarios sobre los cambios propuestos a los planes del sabio urogallo, consiguieron que los funcionarios electos locales se unieran a las perforaciones cerca de las Grandes Dunas de arena y reclutamos a 103 empresas para enviar una carta al Congreso. Proteger el Fondo de Conservación de Tierras y Aguas.

Agua


  • Trabajamos con nuestros campeones legislativos para aprobar tres proyectos de ley que permiten utilizar el agua reutilizada para inodoros, cultivar cáñamo y marihuana y cultivar cultivos comestibles. El agua reutilizada es agua reciclada que ha sido tratada para que esté lo suficientemente limpia como para usarla nuevamente. Estas cuentas ahorrarán agua para Colorado
  • Ganamos un juicio para mantener fluyendo el río Dolores. Ahora hay agua que está legalmente asignada para restaurar los flujos de las corrientes de los peces y la vida silvestre que dependen de ella.

 

Comunidades


  • Conservation Colorado Education Fund y Protégete registraron 10,360 nuevos votantes en los condados de Denver y Pueblo, 75 por ciento de los cuales se identificaron como personas de color, para ayudar a aumentar la participación de los votantes en Colorado.
  • Graduamos a 44 Promotores, o individuos de comunidades latinas que se comprometieron a aprender cómo organizar y dirigir a su comunidad hacia soluciones locales y estatales a través del compromiso cívico. Esto incluyó a nuestros primeros Promotores juveniles, que son estudiantes de escuelas secundarias y universidades locales que están pasando por nuestro programa.
  • Ayudamos a derrotar la Enmienda 74, una medida de la boleta electoral apoyada por intereses corporativos de fuera del estado que querían cambiar el carácter de los vecindarios de Colorado y nuestros paisajes rurales, dándole a los desarrolladores lagunas para construir todo lo que quieran, donde quieran.

 

La lucha continua


Nuestro país está experimentando una rara convergencia de clima político, preocupación pública y capacidad para realizar cambios significativos en los próximos años, y esos cambios serán liderados por los estados. Estamos asumiendo algunas de nuestras campañas más grandes para aprobar políticas audaces que harán de Colorado un líder para la nación.

Hemos creado una visión para el futuro que sirve como un claro llamado para que nuestros líderes tengan sentido. Hemos desarrollado una visión para el futuro que sirve como un claro llamado para que nuestros líderes elaboren políticas significativas en 2019 y más allá para proteger el medio ambiente de Colorado. Incluye: políticas en 2019 y más allá para proteger el medio ambiente de Colorado. Incluye:

  • Poner un límite a la contaminación de carbono y avanzar en la innovación de energía limpia
  • Electrificando y limpiando nuestro sector del transporte.
  • Salvaguardar a las comunidades del desarrollo de petróleo y gas.
  • Mantener el agua en nuestros ríos y asegurar nuestra agua potable saludable
  • Protegiendo las tierras públicas y la vida silvestre para todos los coloradenses

Con su ayuda, podemos continuar haciendo crecer nuestro movimiento y hacer que el futuro de Colorado sea uno de los que estamos orgullosos de dejar como nuestro legado. ¡Done antes de fin de año para apoyar nuestra visión para el futuro y formar parte de la lucha!

 

“Quiero [ver] más respeto por el medio ambiente y las comunidades que viven en ese entorno. La gente está siendo aprovechada. Tenemos que tratar de cambiar. Salir y sondear y hablar con los políticos, esa es una solución “.
– Dominique Lemus, Youth Promotora


La comunidad latina de Colorado, que comprende aproximadamente el 21 por ciento de la población total del estado, es una de las más grandes de la nación. Los latinos han sido históricamente subrepresentados en la política y, con demasiada frecuencia, son ignorados, si no involuntariamente, perjudicados por el movimiento conservacionista. Esta injusticia histórica inspiró el desarrollo del programa Promotores en 2014, que reconoce la importancia de la participación de los latinos en el compromiso cívico al trabajar con las comunidades para proporcionar los recursos, el conocimiento y las habilidades de liderazgo necesarias para crear soluciones comunitarias sostenibles.

Hasta la fecha, Protégete ha graduado más de 150 Promotores. Nos reunimos con los instructores y estudiantes de Promotores para aprender más sobre cómo el programa ayuda a las comunidades, el ambiente y el futuro de Colorado.

Cultivando habilidades de defensa y activismo en comunidades latinas


Patricia Ferrero and Noe Orgaz facilitate a discussion with Promotores.

Noe Orgaz y Patricia Ferrero son dos de los jóvenes instructores Promotores de Protégete. Cada semana, los organizadores de Protégete se reúnen con unos 20 estudiantes para discutir los problemas actuales que afectan a sus comunidades y colaborar en la creación de soluciones.

“Nuestro objetivo es lograr que los estudiantes hablen sobre temas ambientales y cuenten sus historias de manera efectiva”, dijo Orgaz.

Como facilitador, el objetivo de Orgaz abarca más que llegar a la comunidad: se trata de “no solo capacitar a los jóvenes, sino también lograr que se movilicen”.

Ayudar a los estudiantes a movilizar a sus comunidades es especialmente importante, teniendo en cuenta el hecho de que las comunidades latinas, que sufren impactos desproporcionados debido a la contaminación, suelen estar insuficientemente representadas en la formulación de políticas.

“Muchos se sienten privados de sus derechos porque los recursos no se proporcionan en su idioma o por la historia de la marginación sistémica”, dijo Ferrero. Explicó que “tener un programa centrado intencionalmente en los aspectos culturales de la comunidad garantiza que los miembros de la comunidad se sientan seguros y bienvenidos en espacios tradicionalmente poco acogedores”.

 


Relacionando la salud de nuestro medio ambiente con la salud o nuestras familias

Alexsandra Ruiz-Ortiz

Cuando se les preguntó por qué decidieron involucrarse con Protégete, los Promotores actuales mencionaron a sus familias como su principal preocupación.

“La conservación significa preservar y mantener lo que es más importante para usted. Y eso es familia “, dijo Alexsandra Ruiz-Ortiz. “La calidad del aire es un problema ambiental que es realmente importante para mí. Mi sobrino y yo tenemos asma debido a la mala calidad del aire. Antes de hacer cualquier ejercicio … tengo que tomar mi inhalador. Para mi sobrino, cuando se le hace cosquillas durante mucho tiempo, comienza a tener sibilancias “.

Los latinos sufren de asma, que se ve agravada por la contaminación del aire, a tasas mucho más altas que las de otros grupos demográficos. Un niño latino tiene 40 por ciento más probabilidades de morir de asma que los niños blancos no latinos.

Al mismo tiempo, el 66 por ciento de los latinos en los Estados Unidos vive en áreas que

 

Jordi Hernandez

caen por debajo de las normas de calidad del aire de la EPA.

Jordi Hernández agregó: “Ya sea que la gente se dé cuenta o no, van a estar respirando [aire contaminado] y va a causar algunas interrupciones en la salud”. Necesitamos aprender cómo hacer algo sobre los problemas que nos interesan. Los promotores nos están ayudando a hacer eso “.


Elevando las voces latinas


Promotores testify in support of clean car standards

Además de informarse sobre los problemas locales de justicia ambiental, los Promotores ayudan a los estudiantes a convertirse en la próxima generación de líderes.

“[Los promotores] permiten que una persona esté activa”, dijo Orgaz. “Estas son personas que pueden hablar continuamente con los medios de comunicación sobre los problemas que enfrentan, que pueden educar continuamente a los demás. Luego, cuando [su comunidad los necesite] para declarar o actuar, estarán listos “.

Al brindarles a los estudiantes una plataforma, experiencia práctica y los recursos para tener éxito, el programa Promotores ayuda a elevar las voces latinas. A través de estas oportunidades, ya sea testificando en la Comisión de Control de Calidad del Aire en nombre de las reglas de automóviles limpios o tocando puertas para los líderes a favor de la conservación, los promotores preparan a sus estudiantes para que se conviertan en defensores de la comunidad.

“Al ver lo motivados y emocionados que estaban [nuestros Promotores] acerca de [testificar], me sentí realmente orgulloso de lo mucho que pueden hacer los estudiantes y los latinos cuando se les brinda la oportunidad”, dijo Ferrero.

 

Elva Parga, Youth Promotora

Elva Parga compartió que el programa Promotores la ayudó a encontrar una manera de ayudar a su comunidad en general. “Siempre he ayudado un poco aquí y allá, pero nunca he estado tan involucrado”, dijo. “Siempre he sido la persona que [mira a otros] y los anima, pero ahora soy la que está sentada en el micrófono hablando con representantes, diciéndoles lo que quiero que hagan. Eso es algo que nunca pensé que haría “.


Mirando hacia el futuro


Promotores advocate for clean buses at a rally in New Mexico

Aunque todavía es relativamente nuevo, el programa Promotores continúa evolucionando en su capacidad y potencial.

“Todavía no sabemos todo el potencial de este programa. Definitivamente, siempre está creciendo y vamos a seguir expandiéndonos “, dijo Orgaz. “Mi visión para los Promotores es que una vez que una persona se gradúa, ellos son los que enseñan la clase”.

“Podemos comenzar con Promotores en una escuela secundaria y terminar ayudando a alguien a ser elegido como miembro del consejo de la ciudad o trabajar en el Capitolio estatal y darse cuenta del potencial [completo] que tienen”, dijo Ferrero. Ella apunta a brindar esas oportunidades “porque muchos estudiantes no se dan cuenta de que eso es algo que pueden lograr”.

Los estudiantes están de acuerdo. Concluyó Parga: “Siento que [el programa de Promotores de Protégete] me está preparando para pelear batallas más grandes en el futuro”.

 


DENVER — Today, Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) voted unanimously to adopt the Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) Program standards for cars and trucks. Vehicle emissions are among  the largest contributors to carbon pollution in Colorado and contribute to the smog and air toxins that threaten public health. The new LEV standards will reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from cars that threaten our health and economy, help Coloradans breathe easier, and help families save money at the pump.

Ahead of today’s vote, more than 7,600 Coloradans called on the AQCC to adopt state emission standards for gas-powered vehicles. Colorado now joins thirteen states and the District of Columbia in adopting the LEV standards.

In 2012, the federal government adopted a national standard that mirrors the LEV Program, with the support of car manufacturers and federal regulators. The Trump Administration, however, is working to roll back those standards.

In response to extensive support at public meetings, the AQCC has also started a stakeholder process to consider adoption of a Zero Emission Vehicle Program. The ZEV Program would set benchmarks for car manufacturers to introduce more electric vehicles into the Colorado market, resulting in even greater emissions reductions from the transportation sector.

Organizations supporting the LEV standards have released the following statements:

Emily Gedeon, Colorado Sierra Club’s Conservation Program Director:

“In the face of rollbacks to clean car standards by the Trump Administration, Coloradans spoke out for cleaner air, and the AQCC listened. Not only will the new standards protect us from excessive, toxic car and truck pollution, but they will save Coloradans money because their new cars and trucks will travel further with each gallon of gas. We look forward to continuing to engage Coloradans to speak out to the AQCC to get cleaner cars on the road in Colorado.”

Garrett Garner-Wells, Director of Environment Colorado:

“Throughout this process, Coloradans sent a clear message: the cars we drive shouldn’t hurt the people and places we love. We applaud the AQCC for listening to the thousands of voices from throughout our state who want cleaner air and climate action by voting to implement low emission vehicle standards.”

Danny Katz, CoPIRG Foundation Director:

“We shouldn’t have to choose between getting to where we need to go and polluting our air. Adopting a statewide emissions standard is the right decision because it will reduce tailpipe pollution. It also saves us at the pump as car companies take advantage of rapidly advancing fuel efficiency technology and produce cars that go further on a gallon of gas.”

Sophia Mayott-Guerrero, Conservation Colorado Energy and Transportation Advocate:

“Transportation is the biggest contributor to climate change in the U.S. With so many people moving to Colorado, we have more and more cars on the road, giving us dirtier air and accelerating climate change. Colorado took an important step to clean up tailpipe emissions, and now we need to get more electric vehicles on the road.”

Noah Long, Senior Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“While the Trump administration is undermining public health, Colorado is stepping in to protect it by ensuring our cars are the cleanest in the nation. This will mean lower spending at the pump for drivers and cleaner air for our families and our future. The next step is just as important: The state must also move to spur sales of more electric vehicles.”

Michelle Robinson, Director of the Clean Vehicles Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists:

“Colorado’s decision is the right choice for drivers, for the climate, and for the future of transportation. By adopting this clean car program, Colorado will ensure that drivers will save hundreds of millions of dollars at the pump in the years to come, money that will be re-invested in the local economy. This decision will also cut oil use in Colorado, reducing the pollution that causes climate change.   At a time when the federal government is rushing to dismantle clean car standards, in defiance of science and common sense, state leadership is more important than ever. With the addition of Colorado, a growing coalition of clean car states will continue to spur innovation in the auto industry and move us toward a cleaner future.”

Fred Krupp, President of Environmental Defense Fund:

“Clean cars for Coloradans is a mile high home run that means healthier air, a safer climate and cost savings. The new state clean car [ vehicle emission ] standards will protect Coloradans’ health and the state’s natural beauty, and will save people’s hard-earned money. The Trump administration has been undermining our most important health and environmental protections, but states like Colorado are stepping up with win-win solutions that will benefit everyone.”

Other organizations and public agencies to publicly support the increased LEV standards include Environmental Entrepreneurs, Ceres, Colorado Moms Know Best, the City of Aspen, the City of Fort Collins, the City of Longmont, Boulder County Public Health, the City and County of Denver, Eagle County Public Health, Jefferson County Public Health, Pueblo County, and the City of Lakewood Sustainability Division.

For some, it’s a hard truth to grasp; for others, it’s an everyday reality.

Our Protégete community explores Genesee Park & Buffalo Herd Overlook during the kickoff event of Latinx Conservation Week 2018

Latinx communities are disproportionately impacted by the negative effects of climate change, air pollution, and environmental hazards. They’re more likely to get asthma and to live near industrial activity that causes smog. That’s why Latinx communities are more likely to be concerned about environmental threats and are, in fact, leading the charge to advance conservation.

At Conservation Colorado, our Protégete program helps Latinx communities and leaders to build a more powerful, influential voice in the fight against climate change in hopes of a healthy future. We sat down with Noe Orgaz, the Protégete community organizer for Denver, to talk about his experiences growing up in Los Angeles and to explore what inspired him to professionally engage with Latinx communities through conservation advocacy.

What is Latinx Conservation Week? Why is this celebration important?


Latinx Conservation Week is an opportunity for the Latinx community to address conservation issues and bring awareness to the environmental issues that impact the Latinx community. We talk about how we can conserve, work toward a future that thrives, and possibly mitigate a lot of the effects of climate change we’re dealing with today.

Where did you grow up, and what was the environment like there? How did you interact with the resources around you?


I grew up in Los Angeles, California. The environment that I grew up in was a lot of asphalt and concrete. The area that I remember most is my grandmother’s house. Her backyard was adjacent to the LA River, with huge trees that I remember climbing on.

My parents didn’t feel safe drinking water out of the faucet so we always had to boil it in order to cook with it or simply drink it. We were worried it would be contaminated and make us sick. That’s one of the reasons I’m passionate about conservation today. Through my own life and the lives of other people experiencing oppression, I’ve seen the impact of environmental injustice.

In your work, in your professional experience, what are the most pressing conservation issues that face Colorado’s Latinx community?


One of the more prevalent issues right now that Latinxs are dealing with is the air quality in their communities. A lot of folks live near highways or near areas where there is construction. We’re seeing a lot of children get asthma from breathing polluted air in their homes, schools, and neighborhoods.

One of the bills we worked on this legislative session — the school setbacks bill — really got me thinking about the air pollution that kids like mine are experiencing. The bill was trying to increase the distance between schools and oil and gas drilling. It’s really troubling to know that there are communities that have oil rigs right by their football fields or playgrounds.

The idea of young people getting an education and breathing in the pollution from drilling and fracking  — not to mention the risks of spills, explosions, and fires — it just doesn’t sit right by me. It’s definitely something that should be addressed — we need to make it safer for people to get a basic education.

When I think about my own children, I think about how many oil companies are drilling next to schools serving low-income families and Latinx youth, and that makes me want to work hard to change it.

Why is this celebration of Latinx Conservation Week important?


Latinx Conservation Week is important because it is an opportunity and a timeframe for people to be able to address the issues that most impact the Latinx community — but this should be something that goes on on a regular basis, an everyday basis. Every day should be like Latinx Conservation Week.

You might’ve seen the phrase “clean car standards” popping up in your Facebook and Twitter feeds this week. While your local environmental and public health organizations celebrated the new standards, you might’ve felt a bit out of the loop. Let’s break down what the clean car standards are, why Coloradans pushed for them, and what we can expect from them.

First, what are the clean car standards?


These standards regulate the emissions and pollutants from car tailpipes and are based on the “fleet average” (or all of the cars in the state by a given manufacturer). With transportation as the biggest source of pollution in the U.S., lower emissions and less pollutants from tailpipes is always better.

The “cleaner” our cars are (i.e., the less they pollute), the better we are able to protect our environment, our communities, and our economy. As we increase the market share of “clean cars,” which include hybrids and electric vehicles, we are spurring innovation, offering consumers cheaper, more fuel-efficient cars, and helping improve the air we breathe.

Why Colorado needed to act? The Trump Administration is undoing a rule that promoted clean cars.


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken major steps (and there are more to come) toward weakening a 2012 rule that set fuel efficiency standards to cut the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions from cars and help Americans save money at the gas pump. These federal standards have already saved $550 million in car costs for Coloradans. But with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt at the helm, it’s an industry-wants-industry-gets world, with little concern that the agency’s rollback announcement could splinter a burgeoning electric-gasoline auto industry.

Rolling back the fuel-efficiency standards will add 4.5 million tons of carbon pollution to our skies every year and increase smog-causing air pollutants that cause asthma and make it harder to breathe.

Dirty air is unhealthy for all of us, but children, the elderly, and people suffering from lung disease or asthma — including 343,000 Coloradans — are the most negatively impacted. Communities of color and working families are also disproportionately impacted by these health effects. More air pollution means more coughing and wheezing, increased risk of infection, and permanent damage to lung tissue.

But there’s good news, even with the federal rollbacks. Governor Hickenlooper took action to make sure we keep seeing the benefits of vehicle emission standards! He just announced that Colorado will adopt new standards that reduce pollution from vehicles.

Governor Hickenlooper’s leadership comes at a critical time for Colorado. Denver was ranked the 11th most polluted city in the nation for ozone levels — and vehicle emissions are one of the largest contributors. Adopting the clean car standards will protect the clean air and clear blue skies we all cherish.

Clean Car Standards are a great move for our economy AND environment!


According to a recently released report, with the clean car standards in place, Colorado would save roughly $16 to $37 million in health care costs by 2040; reduce the number of work days lost due to illness from air pollutant emissions; and save $260 million per year in social costs from long-term damage caused by carbon pollution. Cheaper costs, lower emissions, and cleaner air: it’s not hard to see why we’re so excited.

Share this video if you’re glad Colorado is moving in the right direction.

Want to keep up with the latest news about Colorado’s environment? Follow Conservation Colorado on Facebook and Twitter.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper today announced an executive order directing Colorado air quality officials to begin a process to adopt state advanced clean car standards in response to the Trump administration’s expected rollback of federal rules. The governor’s executive order will make Colorado the first state in the interior of the country to chart the path of enacting these standards, and it will give Coloradans strong safeguards from air pollution caused by gasoline and diesel vehicles.

By initiating this public rulemaking process, Colorado could join 13 other states and the District of Columbia as leaders in clean car technology and clean air. Ultimately, the implementation of the standards will save Coloradans money at the gas pump, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce pollutants from millions of vehicles.

 

Advocates for the environment and public health have released the following statements:

“Motor vehicles are a significant contributor to air pollution and climate change. As the federal government continues to roll back environmental protections to appease industry interests, it’s up to the states to take action. Colorado can’t — and won’t — be left behind. Governor Hickenlooper’s executive order ensures that Colorado is a leader in the nation and shows that Coloradans are committed to cutting air pollution for the sake of our health, economy, and environment.”  – Maria Handley, acting executive director, Conservation Colorado.

“Transportation is the number two source of greenhouse gas emissions in Colorado — and number one source of emissions in the nation. Adopting clean car standards means fewer bad air days and a better quality of life for citizens across our state.”  – Garrett Garner-Wells, director of Environment Colorado.

“Inefficient cars are just wasteful – they cost consumers every time we go to the pump and they hurt our health when they produce unnecessary pollution. Clean car standards result in more fuel efficient and cleaner vehicles, which benefit our wallets and our personal health. As technology advances, we need to take advantage of even cleaner, more fuel efficient cars. That’s why we applaud Governor Hickenlooper’s action to make Colorado a leader around fuel efficient, cleaner cars.”  – Danny Katz, director of CoPIRG (Colorado Public Interest Research Group).

“With the Trump administration abdicating leadership on cleaning up tailpipe pollution and saving consumers money on gas, states need advanced vehicle standards to ensure their citizens get to drive the cleanest, most affordable cars on the market. This action will help ensure Coloradans still get clean air and cleaner cars.”  – Noah Long, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“Governor Hickenlooper deserves credit for taking bold action to make Colorado the first state in the Mountain West to adopt the Clean Car Standards. As the federal government continues to favor corporate interests over the public good, Governor Hickenlooper’s action will help save families from paying extra at the gas pump and help keep pollution out of our Rocky Mountain air.”  – Zach Pierce, senior campaign representative for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in Colorado.

 

Background:

Thirteen states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington) and the District of Columbia have adopted a set of state clean car standards designed to reduce the emission of smog-forming pollutants, particulate matter, and carbon pollution and to support the development of zero-emission vehicle technology. These states represent nearly 40 percent of the new vehicle sales market. Governor Hickenlooper’s executive order puts Colorado on the path to join these states by initiating a public process with the Air Quality Control Commission.

recently released report details some of the health and economic benefits of adopting the Advanced Clean Car Standards. Denver was ranked the 11th most polluted city in the nation for ozone levels, and vehicle emissions are one of the largest contributors. Adopting the advanced standards will not only protect Coloradans from illness, but it will save money. According to the report, with the clean car standards in place, by 2040 Colorado would save roughly $16 to $37 million in health care costs; reduce the number of work days lost due to illness from air pollutant emissions; and save $260 million per year in social costs from long-term damage caused by carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

The governor’s executive order comes in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ongoing efforts to roll back 2012 federal clean car standards designed to improve air quality and protect public health. The federal emissions standards have been good for Colorado, both in terms of cost savings and better air quality:

  • According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, no other federal policy is delivering as much oil savings, consumer benefits, and carbon emission reductions as the 2012 Federal Vehicle Emissions Standards.
  • According to AAA, the average cost of owning and operating a vehicle in 2017 is $8,649. Because of the federal clean cars standards, the average Colorado household was expecting to see $2,700 in savings by 2030 from lower gas bills.
  • Transportation is the #2 source of greenhouse gas emissions in Colorado, and the highest in the nation. The federal standards were set to reduce carbon emissions in Colorado by 4.5 million tons per year.
  • In the Denver area, emissions of smog-causing air pollutants from vehicles is set to increase by about 15 percent if the federal standards are rolled back. For Coloradans, especially the 343,000 people who are living with asthma, more air pollution means more coughing and wheezing, increased risk of infection, and permanent damage to lung tissue.

 

CONTACTS:

Jace Woodrum, Conservation Colorado, 720-412-3772

Danny Katz, Colorado Public Interest Research Group, 608-215-0929

Garrett Garner-Wells, Environment Colorado, 321-536-6019

Noah Long, Natural Resources Defense Council, 860-515-6885

Thomas Young, Sierra Club, 719-393-2354

Written by Audrey Wheeler

Colorado oil and gas lobbyists and money keep Senate Republicans in their pocket.

In 2017, during Colorado’s legislative session, a deadly explosion killed two people in Firestone, CO. The explosion was due to an uncapped flow line from an oil well.

After such a tragedy, most Coloradans believed the oil and gas industry would work harder to keep people safe. But recently, several former Anadarko employees came forward during an investor lawsuit against the company, saying Anadarko can’t be trusted to maintain their equipment to protect health and safety, calling their operations in Colorado “a ticking time bomb.”

In 2018, on the one-year anniversary of the Firestone tragedy, state legislators had repeated opportunities to enact safeguards for people’s health and safety as the Colorado oil and gas industry moves closer and closer to our neighborhoods and schools. They didn’t take that opportunity. Instead, we saw one commonsense measure after another get shut down by the strength of the oil and gas industry’s lobbying.

Here are some of the stories that unfolded at the state Capitol:

Killed: a bill to keep oil and gas drilling away from kids


Currently, Colorado’s laws require oil and gas activity to be 1,000 feet away from school buildings. But there is no legal limit to how far this industrial activity should be from school playgrounds, outdoor lunch areas, modular classrooms, or athletic fields. HB 1352 would have required oil and gas activity to be 1,000 feet away from school property boundaries. This is in line with what all other industries have to do near schools, like liquor stores.

In support of this bill, dozens of students and parents came to the state Capitol and testified in committee, asking lawmakers to protect them and future students from the impacts of oil and gas, ranging from air pollution to dangerous explosions. In addition, 55 students, teachers, and parents signed on to an open letter to lawmakers to make their voices heard on this issue.

In an emotional moment, a young activist spoke out of turn when a legislator asked if an oil and gas explosion has ever happened near a school. “Why does it need to happen first?” she flatly responded.

Those powerful voices speaking up for this bill didn’t stop a Senate committee from killing it and continuing to put our kids at risk.

Killed: three oil and gas bills with small changes that would have made a big impact


One bill — HB 1071 — was an attempt to clarify the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC). It currently states that the COGCC is in charge of fostering and regulating oil and gas in Colorado. This bill would have changed this contradictory mission to prioritize health, safety, and the environment over industry profits.

Another, HB 1157, would have ensured the industry is tracking and reporting all spills, fires, explosions, injuries, and deaths due to oil and gas well operations and production facilities. This bill would have made incident reports mandatory and required more detail for major and minor accidents, improving transparency to the public.

Third, HB 1419 was a bill to require pipeline mapping and transparency so we all know where oil and gas operations are taking place — exactly the kind of information that would have prevented the Firestone tragedy. It would have also prevented leaks, groundwater contamination, and explosions by ensuring wells are strong and up to industry standard.

All three of these bills were killed by Senate Republicans who continue to pander to oil and gas companies.

Killed: a bill to expand local government authority


While local governments (like cities, counties, or towns) cannot permanently ban oil and gas development in Colorado, they can put in place temporary halts on the industry. SB 048 would have protected the authority of local governments to regulate oil and gas facilities, allowing governments to determine oil and gas regulations according to the needs of residents. As is the story with most of these bills, this bill was killed in a Senate committee.

But there’s good news, too. We managed to block the passage of SB 192, a bill that would have forced local governments to pay oil and gas companies for any loss in profits due to a temporary moratorium or ban. This would have added a financial penalty to any local government trying to do the right thing by their residents. We helped keep this bill from going anywhere!

Protecting homeowners from forced pooling


Forced pooling is when an oil and gas operator wants to acquire rights to extract oil and gas, but a mineral rights owner — like a homeowner — does not want drilling in their backyard. In Colorado, if there are 100 homes in a development and one of them agrees to lease the mineral rights for oil and gas development, all 99 of the other homes are “force pooled,” and the operator can develop there.

Currently, forced pooling laws and practices are unfair to the mineral rights owners and are advantageous to oil and gas operators. Highly technical notices are sent to property owners who are given only 30 days to respond. People with little or no experience with the oil and gas industry are forced to make a tough decision without enough time or clear information.

One bill (HB 1289) would have prevented local government and school district minerals from being force pooled. This bill was blocked.

Finally, one bill that provided some improvements for mineral owners’ property rights passed this year. This bill (SB 230) was a compromise that will provide some immediate relief to homeowners by extending the amount of time homeowners have between getting notified about forced pooling and their hearing, and providing more easily understandable information about the process of being force pooled. Even with the passage of this bill, property owners still face an uphill battle when it comes to negotiating with industry. Compared to the many other commonsense bills that were killed this year, this one is a small step.

While it can be easy to feel disappointed that these bills we all fought so hard for did not pass, even bringing up these issues at the Capitol is a step in the right direction. Thank you for standing with us to fight for these bills, especially if you sent a message, called your legislator, came to testify, or took action in another way to protect our communities.

The best way to change this story next year and into the future is to elect more pro-conservation champions into office. This November, many of our state senators and all of our state representatives will be up for re-election. Help us build the majority we need to pass more life-saving bills that put our communities over the industry!

Written by Emelie Frojen

In Colorado, our stunning mountains, open vistas, and rushing rivers inspire us and connect us to nature. Unfortunately, our public lands face countless attacks from powerful interests, like corporate polluters and the Trump administration, who are out of line with the values Coloradans hold dear.

As Coloradans, it’s our responsibility to show decision makers that we value and cherish our parks, wild places, and public lands. That’s why this month is Conservation Colorado’s Month of Action. Between now and May 31, we have a goal of generating 10,000 actions in support of Colorado’s outdoor spaces.

Here are 31 actions you can take this May to protect where you play!

1.Celebrate Colorado Public Lands DayDid you know May 19th is Colorado Public Lands Day? In May 2016, Colorado became the first state in the nation to establish a state holiday for our public lands. The third Saturday in May is now recognized as Colorado Public Lands Day, a day to celebrate how our public lands are central to our economy and our quality of life. So, make sure to mark your calendar and take a chance to get outside, enjoy our unparalleled wild places, and give back to the public lands that provide us with so much. Find an event or volunteer opportunity near you at http://copubliclandsday.com .

2. Support more diversity in the outdoors. For far too long, public lands have been inaccessible for many communities due to their race, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and other reasons. Our public lands are for everyone, and it is our job to make sure they are accessible for marginalized groups. Take time this month to learn about the history of diversity on our public lands by watching this video and supporting groups that are working to make the outdoors the inclusive place it should be.

3. Take a friend or family member out on public lands. One of the best ways to spread the public lands love is to share it! Take a friend, or five, and go for a hike, sit by a river, or take a picnic to your local park. There are many ways we can enjoy public outdoor spaces so make sure to share it.

4. Attend or host an event for Colorado Public Lands Day. There are numerous events to celebrate Colorado Public Lands Day happening across Colorado. Find the one closest to you or host an event.

5. Share your story and listen to others. You don’t have to wait until May 19th to celebrate Colorado Public Lands Day! There are several early events going on that you can attend for free, including a storytelling event in Denver, an event at New Belgium Brewery, and another one in Steamboat Springs.

6. Spread the word about Colorado Public Lands Day on social media. By doing so, you are showing your support of our public lands and encouraging others to act too!

7. Protect Colorado’s Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National ForestsThe Forest Service announced that it’s updating its plan to protect Colorado’s Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests. The land under review is a 3-million-acre forest that includes 10 Wilderness areas and five fourteeners. The Grand Mesa, just east of Grand Junction, is a large, flat-topped mountain with over 300 lakes. Lend your voice to help protect this beautiful place.

8–9. Support and Celebrate the Passing of Great Outdoors Colorado. This past legislative session, we worked hard to help pass a bill that reauthorizes the Colorado Lottery Division, which supports outdoor recreation and land conservation in all 64 counties in the state. Join us in celebrating the passing of the GOCO bill. Learn more about GOCO and the outdoor places it supports.

10–14. Support the Continental Divide Bill For nearly a decade, conservationists, local leaders, mountain bikers, sportsmen, veterans, and others have come together to forge a proposal that balances protecting wilderness-quality lands with sustaining the recreation economy on which local communities depend. Learn more about the bill on our websiteTell Cory Gardner to support Continental Divide Bill. Thank Senator Bennet and Representative Polis for their hard work on the bill. Spread the word: Explore the area, share a photo, and tag it #COContinentalDivide.

Photo: Devon Balet

15. Visit the closest public lands to you! You don’t have to get into a car and drive for hours to get outside! Visiting local parks and open spaces is a great way to appreciate public land that is free and easy. Many Coloradans can reach these places by walking, biking, or taking public transportation. Challenge yourself to get to a local park without taking a car, and share your adventure with us on social media by tagging us @conservationcolorado and using the hashtag #protectwhereyouplay

16–17. Support our national monumentsOur national monuments contain cultural or historic significance and must remain untouched by destructive development, energy exploration, or construction. That’s why it’s so important that we all take action to prevent the Trump administration from carrying out their attempts to diminish the size and protections for all of these monuments. Our national monuments should remain protected for future generations to enjoy; they are a gift that belongs to all. Take action or donate to protect them.

Photo: Marc Toso

18. Attend our Rebel with a Cause GalaNow in its 17th year, Rebel with a Cause is the largest environmental event in the state. The gala brings together over 750 people for a night of celebration and fun. Join Colorado’s most prominent decision-makers, philanthropists, businesses, and environmentalists for a night you don’t want to miss. Our 2018 Rebels are the native-led organizations who are fighting to protect Bears Ears National Monument, Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition and Utah Diné Bikéyah. Buy a ticket, become a sponsor, or donate to the silent auction.

19–20. Stand up against lease sales. One of the greatest threats to our public lands are oil and gas lease sales. Rather than large sell offs, the Bureau of Land Management has the power to lease land to oil and gas companies for 10 years. Flying under the radar, this process subjects the land to construction and drilling without much public action or opinion! Read up on Colorado lease sales and stay up to date. Our efforts to protect Colorado lands from oil and gas lease sales will continue for years to come. That’s why we need ongoing support to fund this important work. Donate today to protect where you play.

21. Pick up trash on a local trail. Help out public land managers by bringing an extra trash bag on your next hike and picking up trash along the way.

22. Share a photo of your favorite public lands spot on social mediaTell us why and be sure to tag us @conservationcolorado and use the hashtag #protectwhereyouplay

23. Volunteer to do trail work! Donate your time to the places you love.

24. Register to voteThe best way you can stand up for our public lands is with your vote. We have an important election this fall and need your help making sure the environment is a priority. Make sure you are registered or that your registration is up-to-date.

25–26. Get engaged locally. Do you know who your local representative is or how they stand on environmental issues? Visit our website to find out who they are and where they stand. Now, take a moment to tell your local representative how much public lands mean to you.

27. Leave no traceWhen you’re outside, make sure you’re following “leave no trace” guidelines and are making an active effort to keep our lands pristine.

28. Stay up-to-date on Colorado public lands issues by signing up for our email listThis will help you stay in the know on all of the issues affecting Colorado’s land, air, water, and communities.

29. Watch and share our video! This episode of Conservation Chats focuses on how you can take action in support of public lands.

30. Work at a business that cares about the environment? Encourage your employer to take action! The Colorado Outdoor Business Alliance (COBA) is a coalition of Colorado’s leading outdoor recreation businesses and businesses who love the outdoors that recognize the fundamental role public lands play in sustaining Colorado’s emerging economy. Join our COBA program and ask your employer about a donation match program.

31. Donate to the places you loveWe are working hard to protect the places that make Colorado special! By donating to us, you are helping us fight for our land, air, water, and communities. The best thing could do this May is protect where you play.