With a need to act on climate, it’s more important than ever that all of us practice civic engagement — at the local, state, and federal levels.

Contact: Jessica Goad, 720-206-4235

In a huge win for the environment and the “resistance” against the Trump agenda, the vote to move forward with repealing a rule protecting air quality from oil and gas development just failed in the U.S. Senate. However, Colorado Senator Gardner voted the wrong way.

Here is a reaction from Pete Maysmith, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado.

This is an incredible day for the environment and for citizens across the country who have been telling their members of Congress to vote for clean air. The vote should have been an easy one for the oil and gas lobby to win, but the power of citizen activism has broken through the political morass.

 

With that said, we are deeply disappointed in Senator Gardner’s vote. Despite more than 10,000 emails and calls from Coloradans and multiple protests at his offices on this issue, Senator Gardner managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by voting against Colorado’s clean air in what amounted to a futile vote for him.

 

It’s obvious from this vote that Senator Gardner is much more interested in joining the Washington, D.C. political club rather than representing the values of Coloradans. This is not the leadership that Colorado needs, and we will double down on our efforts to make sure that Coloradans of all stripes know what a threat Senator Gardner’s voting record poses to clean air and environment.

Senate Republicans today attempted to use a little-known procedure (the “Congressional Review Act”) to kill rules from previous presidential administrations. Today’s vote on the “motion to proceed” was 51-49, with Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Susan Collins (R-ME) and John McCain (R-AZ) joining all 48 Democrats in rejecting the resolution.

Senator Gardner has a 100% record of voting with Trump and has voted against the environment seven times already this year, the methane vote being the eighth.

The BLM’s methane waste prevention rule was modeled on Colorado’s successful 2014 methane rules. The federal rule was finalized in November 2016 after three years of public process that included eight public meetings held across the country and 300,000 public comments. The rule would minimize the amount of wasted natural gas resources from oil and gas facilities on public and tribal lands by requiring companies to look for and repair leaks, minimize flaring (burning) and prohibit venting of gas directly into the atmosphere. All told, the rule could save $330 million worth of natural gas each year, which would result in increased royalties paid to the federal treasury saving taxpayers more than $800 million over a decade.

Conservation Colorado, the state’s largest statewide environmental advocacy organization, announced today its endorsement of Phil Weiser for attorney general.

“When it comes to safeguarding our environment and our Colorado way of life, one of the most important elected officials in Colorado is the attorney general. As the lawyer for the people of Colorado, the attorney general has the power to act on behalf of all Coloradans and uphold our values,” said Maria Handley, acting executive director of Conservation Colorado. “Phil Weiser will ensure that Colorado prioritizes the health and safety of our people and our environment. As attorney general, he will be a leader in addressing climate change, preventing unsafe oil and gas development, and protecting our public lands and rivers.”

Phil Weiser added,  “I am honored to be endorsed by Conservation Colorado, Colorado’s largest state environmental organization. As attorney general, I will lead the fight to address the reality of climate change, not deny it. I will protect our public lands and ensure we have clean air and water, standing up to the Trump  agenda and suing our federal government when necessary to protect Colorado. I am proud to join Conservation Colorado, which has led the way for over 50 years to protect Colorado’s land, air, and water, to fight for our children and future generations.”

Weiser is a former dean of the University of Colorado Law School, served in the justice department under President Obama, and worked as a clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court. Weiser has made protecting Colorado’s environment a key part of his platform and has pledged to stand up for Colorado’s way of life. On the other hand, George Brauchler, Weiser’s Republican opponent, is a politician who is a favorite of special interests like the oil and gas industry. Surprisingly, he also just recently realized that water is a huge issue here in Colorado.

To protect what we all love about Colorado — our clear skies, wild places, rushing waterways, and diverse communities — we need leaders who share our values and are willing to take a stand,” said Handley. “We can count on Phil Weiser to do that. We are thrilled to support him in his bid for attorney general.”

Conservation Colorado Executive Director Kelly Nordini released the following statement on the election of Phil Weiser as attorney general:

Conservation issues played an incredibly important role in this year’s race for attorney general. From day one, Phil Weiser prioritized Colorado values and pledged to address climate change, protect our lands and water, and ensure our state’s continued leadership on conservation.

As the Trump administration continues to rollback critical environmental protections, we need an attorney general who will stand up and fight back on behalf of Coloradans. Phil Weiser is that attorney general.

At an unprecedented level, Coloradans were energized and engaged on environmental issues in this election because they clearly see the threat coming out of the Trump administration and want Colorado to be a national leader. That’s why in the 2018 election cycle, Conservation Colorado and its political committees spent more money, knocked on more doors, and engaged more voters than ever before. Our activities included:

  • Endorsing 55 candidates.
  • Spending $4.6 million on direct contributions to candidates, expansive digital ad programs, direct mail, canvasses, and TV and radio ads.
  • Knocking on 561,375 doors in targeted areas across the state and making 2,735 calls.
  • Sending more than 150,000 texts, including 110,000 texts to Latino voters.
  • Mobilizing more than 300 members and volunteers to knock doors, make phone calls, and take action to support pro-conservation candidates.
  • Contributing $1.3 million in opposition to Amendment 74.

Conservation Colorado Executive Director Kelly Nordini has released the following statement on the results of state Senate and House elections:

Coloradans have spoken, and their values are clear: they want leaders who will take action to protect what makes our state so special: our clean air, wild places, rushing rivers, beautiful vistas, and diverse people.

We are congratulating dozens of candidates at the state and local levels who have prioritized conservation issues as part of their campaigns. Their victories will ensure that our state Senate and House will be led by conservation champions who will take action on the issues that are so important to Coloradans.

We’re excited to work with all of our state legislators to ensure that we continue Colorado’s national leadership on protecting our air, lands, water, and people.

Conservation Colorado’s top priority race was Senate District 16, and the group spent $350,000 to help Tammy Story secure victory. Senator Tim Neville’s repeated attacks on our public lands was a key factor in his loss. It’s clearer than ever that Colorado voters — especially in Jefferson County, a bellwether area — value our open spaces and wild places and vote with them in mind.

At an unprecedented level, Coloradans were energized and engaged on environmental issues in this election because they clearly see the threat coming out of the Trump administration and want Colorado to be a national leader. That’s why in the 2018 election cycle, Conservation Colorado and its political committees spent more money, knocked on more doors, and engaged more voters than ever before. Our activities included:

  • Endorsing 55 candidates.
  • Spending $4.6 million on direct contributions to candidates, expansive digital ad programs, direct mail, canvasses, and TV and radio ads.
  • Knocking on 561,375 doors in targeted areas across the state and making 2,735 calls.
  • Sending more than 150,000 texts, including 110,000 texts to Latino voters.
  • Mobilizing more than 300 members and volunteers to knock doors, make phone calls, and take action to support pro-conservation candidates.
  • Contributing $1.3 million in opposition to Amendment 74.

Conservation Colorado Executive Director Kelly Nordini released the following statement on the failure of Amendment 74:

Tonight was a victory by a diverse, bipartisan coalition against an oil and gas industry that poured $11 million into a cynical attempt to write their own corporate profits into our constitution. Voters saw this deceptive measure for what it was – a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The only thing that the industry gained with their risky gamble with our state’s economy was an even further straining of their social license to operate in this state.

Conservation Colorado Executive Director Kelly Nordini has released the following statement on the failure of Proposition 112:

Let’s be clear: the oil and gas industry spent at least $30 million to beat this measure by fear-mongering about jobs. No one in this state would be foolish enough to say that tonight’s result mean that voters want an oil and gas rig closer to their homes, schools, or hospitals.

The fact remains: the oil and gas problem in this state has not been solved. Local communities still have too little say in where dangerous facilities are sited; the industry benefits from loopholes to laws meant to protect our environment; our state’s severance tax is the lowest effective severance tax in the nation; and spills, fires, explosions, and pollution remain all too commonplace.

In recent years, the oil and gas industry has stood in the way of basic, common-sense protections like keeping drilling away from our schools or tracking where pipelines exist so we don’t experience another Firestone tragedy. We need our leaders to take action in 2019 to ensure that Colorado has the strongest protections in the west.

Conservation Colorado released the following statement from Executive Director Kelly Nordini on the election of Jared Polis as governor:

Jared Polis said that we can protect the Colorado we love, and he set a bold path to a clean energy future. Colorado voters value our air, land, water, and people so it’s no surprise that they said “yes” to a leader who reflects these values.

Tonight’s elections show yet again that there is tremendous enthusiasm for environmental issues in Colorado. Now more than ever, states must lead the way when it comes to addressing the challenges ahead, and Governor-elect Polis will be at the forefront. Coloradans expect bold leadership from their governor, and we are thrilled to partner with him on his agenda.

At an unprecedented level, Coloradans were energized and engaged on environmental issues in this election because they clearly see the threat coming out of the Trump administration and want Colorado to be a national leader. That’s why in the 2018 election cycle, Conservation Colorado and its political committees spent more money, knocked on more doors, and engaged more voters than ever before. Our activities included:

  • Endorsing 55 candidates.
  • Spending $4.6 million on direct contributions to candidates, expansive digital ad programs, direct mail, canvasses, and TV and radio ads.
  • Knocking on 561,375 doors in targeted areas across the state and making 2,735 calls.
  • Sending more than 150,000 texts, including 110,000 texts to Latino voters.
  • Mobilizing more than 300 members and volunteers to knock doors, make phone calls, and take action to support pro-conservation candidates.
  • Contributing $1.3 million in opposition to Amendment 74.

Today, Conservation Colorado released its 2019 Conservation Scorecard, an annual look at how every state legislator voted on key environmental bills during the recent legislative session. The scorecard provides Coloradans with the information they need to ensure their elected officials reflect Coloradans’ values, including protections for our air, land, water, and communities.

“Colorado’s 2019 legislative session was historic by any measure,” said Kelly Nordini, executive director of Conservation Colorado. “From climate action and clean energy to oil and gas reforms to protecting our lands, water, and wildlife, this year’s scorecard provides an accounting of who helped and hindered Colorado’s progress.”

Here are top-line results from the Scorecard:

Key votes scored include:

  • Colorado’s Climate Action Plan (HB1261)
  • Comprehensive Oil and Gas Reform (SB181)
  • EV Utility and Tax Credits (HB1159 and SB77)
  • Hard-Rock Mining Reform (HB1113)
  • Conservation Easement Improvements (HB1264)
  • Promoting a Just Transition (HB1314)

Senate

  • 18 Senators had a perfect score.
  • The lowest scores were Senators Chris Holbert, Vicki Marble, and Jim Smallwood at 0 percent each.

House

  • 36 members had a perfect score.
  • The lowest scores were Representatives Mark Baisley, Susan Beckman, Perry Buck, Tim Geitner, Stephen Humphrey, Kimmi Lewis, Lori Saine, Shane Sandridge, and Dave Williams at 0 percent each.

Nordini continued: “This year, the Colorado legislature passed commonsense policies that were years in the making. At a time when the stakes could not be higher, Colorado’s new elected leaders produced results that will protect our state for years to come.”

I write as the enthusiastically wide-eyed recent addition to Conservation Colorado. My name is Koki Atcheson and I graduated from Colorado College this May with a BA in Environmental Science: Integrated and a minor in Education. I am so grateful to the Public Interest Fellowship Program and Conservation Colorado for this opportunity to start as a Communications Fellow.

I accepted a position in Colorado, far from my home base in Honolulu, Hawaii, because I recognize the state of Colorado as a national leader in advancing pro-environmental policies, public lands protections, renewable energy, and clean air and water for all people. I draw inspiration from Colorado’s green spaces of all sizes and the energy of city planners and community members working in partnership with nature. I see hope and great potential in the conservation movement, and I am eager to join a team who works relentlessly toward a better future for our environment and our people.

Once I walked through Conservation Colorado’s doors, I did not wait long to experience advocacy work firsthand. Moments after finding my desk, I listened in on a tele-press conference detailing Senator Cory Gardner’s voting history, and the implications of his anti-environmental votes. This was my introduction to what it means to hold elected officials accountable.

Senator Gardner has failed to fulfill his advertised commitments to renewable energy and the environment. Between 2015 and 2018 he voted against the environment 85 percent of the time. This record does not honor the conservationist identity that I share with 69 percent of Coloradans.

Reading Conservation Colorado’s report of Senator Gardner’s voting history, I was most upset to see that he has made surface-level claims of pro-environmental beliefs without stepping up as a leader in climate policy, sponsoring a wilderness bill, or consistently voting to secure the best interests of Colorado’s people and environment. These findings reinforce the necessity of digging deeper than political candidates’ promotional materials, and making this information easily accessible.

In Colorado, pro-conservation elected officials accurately represent the values and needs of residents. Pro-conservation actions promote public health through policies that minimize displacement and pollution, and maximize green spaces for all. In this way they are a vehicle for justice, and can work to counteract centuries of environmental racism.

Senator Gardner has an immense opportunity to represent Coloradan values and leave a positive legacy for the state he serves through working to advance clean energy, fully sponsor conservation bills, and protect the wilderness areas that keep Colorado wild.

If Colorado hopes to remain a proud champion for our environment, all of our elected officials must step up and boldly pursue action that honors our state’s human and natural needs. In my time as a Communications Fellow at Conservation Colorado, I look forward to learning from a wealth of mentors who are doing the political work to sculpt an equitable, environmentally connected future.