Contact: Jessica Goad, 720-206-4235

The Colorado state Senate just moved to accept the state House amendments and repass SB 1, a bill funding Colorado transportation including significant investment in multimodal options.

Maria Handley, Interim Executive Director of Conservation Colorado, stated:

We’re pleased with this compromise, as it recognizes the need to significantly grow our investments in multimodal options like senior and disability buses, sidewalks for pedestrians, highway shoulders for tractors, and resources to keep everyone safe. It is a step towards funding our state’s massive transportation needs in a fiscally responsible manner and supports a system that will benefit all Coloradans.

With 2.5 million more people expected to live in Colorado over the next 25 years, multimodal options are more important than ever to combat congestion and improve air quality. We believe additional revenues are needed to address our full suite of transportation needs, but this bill provides critical initial investments to move us forward.

We thank Speaker Crisanta Duran, Representative Faith Winter, Senator Rachel Zenzinger, Senator Kevin Grantham, and other leaders who were relentless in ensuring that this bill provide equitable investments for both urban and rural Coloradans.

SB 1 funds multimodal options in the following ways:

  • $74.25 million to the multimodal transportation fund in this year’s one-time general fund transfer of $495 million
  • $22.5 million to the multimodal transportation fund in next year’s one-time general fund transfer of $150 million
  • 15 percent of the net proceeds from TRANS bonds to the multimodal transportation options fund
  • Creates the multimodal transportation options fund for local governments and state transit projects
  • Creates greater flexibility for local governments by removing restrictions for how they spend their multimodal dollars

The Trump administration today released a rollback of national clean car and vehicle efficiency standards. These widely-supported standards save Coloradans money at the gas pump, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce smog and toxic pollution.

“Make no mistake: these rollbacks will hurt Coloradans,” said Sophia Mayott-Guerrero, transportation and energy advocate at Conservation Colorado. “Less efficient motor vehicles are a significant contributor to air pollution and climate change, and the Trump administration is putting more of them on the road to appease industry interests. Colorado must take bold action now to protect our health and environment.”

In anticipation of these federal rollbacks, Governor John Hickenlooper in June issued an executive order directing Colorado air quality officials to begin a process to adopt state clean car standards. Colorado could join 13 other states and the District of Columbia as leaders in clean car technology and clean air. Through this process, environmental, public health, and consumer groups will encourage the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) to explore Colorado clean car standards that include both low emissions and zero emissions components. The AQCC will begin consideration of the clean car standards on August 16.

“Trump’s proposed rollback of vehicle pollution standards is yet another move to satisfy corporate interests at the expense of Coloradans,” said Zach Pierce, Senior Campaign Representative for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in Colorado. “Here in Colorado, rolling back the standards means more air pollution and more money spent at the gas pump. Since the White House isn’t looking out for Coloradans, Governor Hickenlooper is defending clean air and family budgets with our own strong policies.”

This rollback will increase carbon emissions in Colorado by 3.9 million tons per year, undercutting Governor Hickenlooper’s goals to address our changing climate. Emissions of smog-causing air pollutants from vehicles would increase by about 15 percent, making it harder for places like Colorado’s Front Range to meet federal ozone standards that protect our health. 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.

“Coloradans must now protect their own clean air,” said Noah Long, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “It’s outrageous that the Trump administration is trying to not only roll back basic health and environmental safeguards, but also remove the ability of states like Colorado to cut pollution.”

Coloradans have saved $550 million at the pump since the federal government set standards in 2012 to double fuel efficiency for cars and light trucks by 2025. Under these standards, the average Colorado household would have seen $2,700 in savings by 2030 – savings that won’t happen with this rollback.

“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,” said Danny Katz, director of CoPIRG. “As technology continues to advance, 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.”

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.

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.

Ballot measures

Written by Conservation Colorado staff

✅ Amendments Y and Z – YES Congressional and Legislative Redistricting

 Amendment 74 – NO Just Compensation for Reduction in Fair Market Value by Government Law or Regulation

 Proposition 109 – NO  Authorize Bonds for Transportation Projects

✅ Proposition 110 – YES Increase Sales Tax to Fund Transportation

✅ Proposition 112 – YES Setback Requirement for Oil and Gas Development

✅ Denver County: Measure 2A – YES Denver Parks and Open Space Sales Tax

Fair Maps Colorado


Official Ballot Envelope☑ YES on Amendment Y

☑ YES on Amendment Z

These measures create fair and competitive congressional and state legislative districts. They will set up a new process that empowers independent commissions to draw district lines and keeps elected officials and lobbyists from drawing electoral districts because voters should choose their politicians, not the other way around.

Colorado’s population growth means we will likely have an eighth congressional seat by 2022. That means now is the time to improve our system for drawing districts. Together, these measures will help achieve fair and equal representation for all citizens of Colorado. Amendments Y and Z will:

  • Create balanced independent commissions (4 Republicans, 4 Democrats, and 4 unaffiliated voters)
  • Set clear criteria for map-drawing and prohibitions on gerrymandering
  • Limit the roles of partisans and courts
  • Heighten open meetings, public records, and ethical rules
  • Secure fair and effective representation for all Colorado voters
  • Maximize competitive districts

Stop Amendment 74 and Save Our Neighborhoods


☒ NO on Amendment 74 – “Just Compensation for Reduction in Fair Market Value by Government Law or Regulation”

A backlit, gold lighting oil rigIf Amendment 74 passes, it will allow any corporation or property owner to sue local governments over any law they disagree with, opening the floodgates to frivolous and costly lawsuits. Taxpayers would have to foot the bill.

When a similar measure passed in Oregon, there were nearly $20 billion in claims in just the first three years. These costly claims threatened funding for local schools, roads, and public safety. Oregonians ultimately repealed the law. Now Coloradans are facing a choice to repeat Oregon’s costly mistake or reject this risky amendment that will mainly benefit the wealthy developers and oil companies who wrote it. Amendment 74 is supported by out-of-state corporate interests who want to change the character of Colorado neighborhoods and our rural landscapes by giving developers loopholes to build anything they like, anywhere they like.

Although 74 claims to help property owners, property rights are already protected in the constitution. While 74 might sound good, it is really risky to amend the constitution with such a flawed measure. Once it’s in the constitution, the unintended consequences are permanent and can’t be undone.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ABOUT AMENDMENT 74

A Dead End for Colorado


Two lanes of congested traffic☒ NO on Proposition 109 – “Authorize Bonds for Transportation Projects”

Proposition 109 would dedicate existing state funds to projects that address road and bridge expansion, construction, maintenance, and repairs. These funds are not to be used for roads managed by local governments—88 percent of all roads—or public transportation. But Prop.109 takes $3.5 billion away from schools, public safety, and other vital services by forcing the state to reallocate existing resources and exclusively fund highway projects. We need a transportation system that invests in solutions, not one that will bankrupt our government and leave our roads in disrepair.

Let’s go Colorado


Four lanes of congested freeway traffic☑ YES on Proposition 110 – “Sales Tax Increase for Transportation Funding”

It’s been decades since we last changed how Colorado funds transportation. Our streets and transportation systems need improvement, and it’s time to stop the “band-aid” approach. Proposition 110 is the statewide solution we need. It fixes our roads; ensures local governments have the resources to meet demands; promotes options like walking, biking, and transit that reduce congestion; and ensures that we protect the environment by investing in solutions that move people, not just cars.

We need a new funding source to fix our roads. A sales tax asks everyone to chip in, including the 80 million out-of-state tourists who use our infrastructure every year. This proposition will increase the state’s sales tax by 0.62%, a little more than half a cent on a dollar purchase, to fund transportation projects across the state.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ABOUT LET’S GO COLORADO

Protect Colorado Neighborhoods


An oil rig near residential area☑ YES on Proposition 112 – Setback Requirement for Oil and Gas Development

Prop. 112 requires new oil and gas development projects to be located at least 2,500 feet from occupied buildings and other areas designated as vulnerable. Conservation Colorado has long worked to ensure a responsible, transparent, and accountable oil and gas industry, which has included efforts to increase the distance between oil and gas development and the places where we live and where our children play. Yet, the industry has blocked even the most modest efforts to address the growing conflicts between its operations and our communities, such as keeping drilling and fracking away from schools. Ultimately we must prioritize the health and safety of our communities above all else.

Read more at Colorado Rising.

Healthy Parks and Rivers for Everyone


A kid in a green jacket catches bubbles☑ YES on referred measure 2A in Denver

This measure will increase the city’s sales tax by 0.25% (about $3 per month) in order to create a dedicated funding source to address the city’s $127 million park maintenance backlog and help add new parks, rivers, trails, and open space. Denver is growing quickly, but its investment in parks and trails is not keeping pace with growth. One of six of our parks is in poor condition and in need of repairs. Worse, our park system is inequitable, as wealthier neighborhoods can make private donations to address their park needs while low-income neighborhoods are left behind.

The Denver City Council referred this measure to the ballot, and which will raise over $45 million in its first year alone to help make the dream of “a park in every neighborhood” a reality for ALL Denver residents.

Learn more at Yes for Denver Parks.

Voting is one of the most important things you can do to protect our environment and what you love about our state. Help us spread the word about Colorado ballot measures and how they impact the environment.

Written by Audrey Wheeler

120 days. 100 legislators. Among a storm of #MeToo scandals, teacher protests, civil rights debates, and more, we made progress and fought some important fights for our environment.

In case you haven’t been keeping up, here are the biggest wins, bad things blocked, and losses for our air, land, water, and communities coming out of this year’s legislative session.

VICTORIES:

Bicyclist riding through city: increased sustainable transitInvesting in transportation for all Coloradans. After two years of fighting, we notched a huge victory in passing SB 001, a bipartisan bill that includes major investments in transportation options like senior and disability buses, sidewalks for pedestrians, highway shoulders for tractors, and resources to keep everyone safe. It is a step towards funding our state’s massive transportation needs in a fiscally responsible manner, and it supports a system that will benefit all Coloradans. With 2.5 million more people expected to live in Colorado in the next 25 years, these options are more important than ever to combat congestion and improve air quality. While we believe additional revenues are needed to address all our transportation needs, this bill provides critical initial investments to move us forward.

Two kids point across a streamRenewing funding to protect our public lands. A massive funding stream for Colorado’s outdoors was reauthorized through Colorado’s lottery! This dedicates funding for parks, open spaces, and outdoor recreation in all 64 counties of Colorado. This bill (SB 066) will help boost local projects to protect our outdoors.


Solar panels: Increased Solar StorageAdvancing renewable energy through storage. Energy storage is an essential companion to renewables that will enable a clean energy future. Two bills tackled this need (SB 009 and HB 1270). SB 009 declares that power customers have a right to install, interconnect, and use energy storage systems, making sure that homeowners can store their renewable energy, while HB 1270 directed the Public Utilities Commission to consider storage in as utilities make plans for future energy sources.


Commercial irrigation at sunset: Conserved WaterConserving Colorado’s water. We helped pass three bills to allow reused water for flushing toilets (HB 1069), growing hemp (SB 038), and farming edible crops (HB 1093)! “Reuse” water is when water is used for one purpose, say to wash dishes, and then treated to a safe standard to be used again, like to water a garden. When a water provider is able to use the same water multiple times, it means more demands can be met without increasing their overall water consumption. Reusing water helps conserve our limited water resources, and these bills will save thousands of gallons a year.


A single deer in an aspen grove: protected our wildlifeProtecting state parks and wildlife. Coloradans depend on Colorado Parks and Wildlife to deliver on its mission and ensure future generations have access to the recreational opportunities available today. SB 143 allows CPW to prevent budget shortfalls and meet its goals by increasing user fees and adjusting them to keep pace with inflation.


Rural landscape with one home: Supported rural communitiesSupporting rural communities. Two bills were passed this year: first, the Rural Economic Advancement of Colorado Towns (REACT) Act aims to provide assistance to rural towns that have experienced significant economic shifts such as industry closure. This bill (SB 005) will help make sure our rural communities have support from the state of Colorado as they face transitions, often related to the shift to clean energy. Second, SB 002 adds funding for increasing broadband to rural areas across Colorado. Currently, many rural communities do not have access to broadband internet, or if they do, its poor and unreliable quality. Rural communities deserve high-speed, functional infrastructure so their opportunities to earn a good life are not limited.

These are just some of the 27 bills we helped pass this year with the support of our 36,000 members!

But not everyone was in line with conservation interests. We also worked to kill 11 bills this legislative session that would have been bad for our air, land, water, or people.

BLOCKED:

  • Stopping Colorado from fighting climate change. SB 226 sought to prohibit Colorado from being involved in the U.S. Climate Alliance, which Governor Hickenlooper signed onto last summer. This bill was a thinly veiled attempt to stall Colorado in its efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. This bill passed the Senate but was soundly killed in the House, thanks in part to our members’ advocacy.
  • Repealing electric vehicle tax credits. Colorado’s innovative tax credits make our state the best in the country for buying electric vehicles. The credits have helped spur consumers to switch to EVs, giving us the 6th highest market share in the country for EVs. At the same time, EVs benefit our air quality and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. SB 047 would have ended these tax credits early, cutting off the benefits of EVs to our air and our economy, but we ensured the death of this shortsighted legislation.

And of course, we weren’t able to win in every fight this year. Some of the bills we worked hard to pass this legislative session met their ends in the state Senate, which is under anti-conservation leadership.

LOSSES:

  • Protecting Colorado’s water and rivers. A bill (HB 1301) to hold mining companies responsible for water cleanup would have updated our state’s hard rock mining laws to protect the rushing rivers and drinking water we rely on. Unfortunately, this bill was killed in the Senate by pro-industry voices.
  • Fighting climate change. One bill (HB 1297) would have allocated funds to prepare Colorado for climate change. Another (HB 1274) would have set a goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050 from 2005 levels. Despite passing the House, both bills were sent to kill committees in the Senate.
  • Expanding electric vehicle infrastructure. Our transportation sector is changing, and we need the infrastructure to keep up the pace. SB 216 would have done so by lifting a restriction on utility companies’ ability to invest in electric vehicle infrastructure to meet the growing need and demand across Colorado. Despite electric cars like the Nissan Leaf gaining in popularity around the state, Senators voted to let Colorado fall behind.

You may notice one big issue is missing from this list: oil and gas! In fact, oil and gas was such an important and divisive issue in this year’s legislative session that we’re writing about it separately just to relay what went down. Read it here!

In all, it was a successful legislative session, despite the anti-conservation leadership we’ve seen in the state Senate. We are proud to have worked to pass bills that will be good for the future of all Coloradans, and we’re ready to keep fighting for the big issues that didn’t get addressed in this year’s legislature.

We couldn’t do this work without the support of members like you. But there is more to be done as we gear up for the next election. Sign up now to volunteer to help elect a pro-conservation legislature!That way we’ll be able to see even more victories next year.

Written by Audrey Wheeler

Colorado’s population is growing. How can we support our increasing population with transportation systems that work?

As anyone who’s been stuck in traffic recently can tell you, Colorado has a transportation problem. Our roads are deteriorating, our highways are overcrowded, and our public transit options have frustrating limitations.

The big reason why we have these problems is that our population has been growing, increasing the demand on our transportation systems while funding for roads and public transit has remained stagnant.

The gas tax, which pays for our roads, has not been increased since 1991 and doesn’t rise with inflation. Colorado is ranked 29th among states in per capita funding for public transit. On average, states cover 24 percent of the costs of operating public transit; Colorado provides only 1 percent. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) estimates that we need $9 billion just to boost our transportation network to a level adequate to meet the needs of our state right now.

It’s no wonder our leaders — like Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran, Senate President Kevin Grantham, and Governor John Hickenlooper — agree that transportation funding is a top priority. Coloradans should have the freedom to get to where they need to go, and our state government has a responsibility to address these problems.

So why haven’t we agreed on a solution? Last year, a few decided the fate of many. In 2017, a bipartisan state bill (House Bill 1242) would have proposed a tax increase to voters to fund highways, local infrastructure projects, and bike, pedestrian, and transit options. Even this thoughtful, bipartisan effort that would have needed voter approval on the ballot did not make it out of the legislature. It was killed by a select group of Senate Republicans (read: The New “Kill” Committee).

This legislative session, we’ve seen ill-fated efforts at bonding measures to fix our transportation problems, but none have been the solution we need.

For a transportation solution to truly solve our problems, it must:

  • Be statewide and flexible. We want a system that provides funding to the whole state, addressing a full array of needs and creating flexible local funds.
  • Have a new, sustainable funding source. The general fund in Colorado alone cannot meet this need. While there may be some patches or band-aid solutions from the legislature, we will ultimately need an updated funding source. It’s worth repeating: CDOT estimates we need $9 billion just meet the transportation needs of our state right now.
  • Dedicate significant dollars to multi-modal (non-car) options. We need a system that works for all people, and that means all modes of getting around. This might mean funding for transit districts, sidewalks, shuttles for people who are disabled or elderly, rapid bus transit on highway corridors, and more. The system needs to move people, not just cars.

Time and again, the debate comes down to these problems. This year’s funding proposal is an irresponsible attempt to address this serious problem. It fails to meet criteria #2 and #3 above, prompting us to ask two questions:

Where’s the money coming from?

Some people seem to think the funding solution is easy and straightforward, that using existing resources to bond for transportation. But taking a bond (or loan) against our already narrow budget is not free money. Locking hundreds of millions of dollars into bonding without creating a new revenue source merely shifts the problem down the road to future generations. If Colorado is stuck making bond payments during another recession, we would need to cut other critical areas from the budget, which could mean less money for things like schools or health care. The general fund cannot be the only source of funding. Solutions for transportation can include bonding, but it should be done responsibly, with a new source of revenue to pay for it and in a way that does not mortgage our future.

How is it addressing our long-term needs?

We can’t have a transportation solution that doesn’t include funding for transit, bikes, and pedestrians. There are three reasons why:

First of all, transportation is a climate issue. The transportation sector is now the leading contributor to greenhouse gas emissions nationally, surpassing the energy sector. In order to fight climate change, we must change the way we move.

Second, we need to boost transportation options if we want to get serious about reducing traffic. Widening highways doesn’t reduce congestion. When we add lanes to a highway, there is a short time during which congestion does drop – but studies show that within a few years, traffic is as bad as it was before the road was widened. Instead of focusing on highways alone, we need to focus on mobility, and providing different options for moving people — not just cars — is the best way to do that.

Third, we need transportation options because they are good for our economy, public health, and safety. Increasing walkability and bike-ability of neighborhoods boosts property values and increases revenues for local businesses. People who use public transit take 30 percent more steps per day than people who drive, meaning that more transportation options can improve public health in more ways than one. Transportation is one of the largest sources of air pollution, which is especially important in places like Colorado’s Front Range that suffer from ozone pollution and smog. Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems, particularly for children, the elderly, and people of all ages who have lung diseases such as asthma.

We can’t keep arguing in circles about how to fund transportation. We need to agree on a new funding source that will prioritize flexible, statewide funding and invest in transit, bike, and pedestrian options as well as highways and roads.

Only then will we be sure that the Colorado of the future is a great place to live.

Written by Emelie Frojen

1) MYTH: They’re incredibly expensive.


Fact: Colorado is the cheapest place in the U.S. to buy an Electric Vehicle.

First off, the United States government offers $7,500 in federal tax credits for purchasing an electric car. In addition to that, Colorado offers another $5,000 off at the time of the purchase, making it the cheapest state to get an electric vehicle. Colorado locales such as Fort Collins, Aurora, Durango, Garfield county, and Colorado Springs also have programs that offer discounts on electric vehicles. Our largest utility provider, Xcel, has partnered with Nissan to make many aspects of purchasing and owning an electric vehicle cheaper, including one year of free charging at public stations.

2. MYTH: Road trips are out of the question.


Fact: There are countless charging stations in both urban and rural Colorado.

Photo via Green Car Reports

Switching to an electric vehicle doesn’t mean you have give up weekend skiing or long summer road trips. With a little research and planning ahead, you’ll find that an electric vehicle can get you anywhere a gas-powered car can go. Websites like Plugshare are popping up all over the internet with tools to find charging stations that are fast and compatible with your car. They even have a trip planning tool so you can travel with ease. In addition to the ample amount of charging stations we have right now, the recent money Colorado received from a settlement with Volkswagen will be used to add around 600 new fast-charging stations to our state. These fast charging stations, referred to as “DC chargers,” charge electric vehicles for 170 miles in 30 minutes, making it easy to get around in an electric vehicle. On top of that, the tech industry has its sight set on improving charging stations as electric vehicles gain popularity.

3. MYTH: Electricity isn’t more sustainable than gasoline.


Fact: Colorado’s grid is getting greener, and so are electric vehicles.

Photo via High Plains Public Radio

An EV on the road today has dramatically lower emissions of the two pollutants that contribute to ozone pollution (a huge problem for Colorado): volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides. They have 99 percent lower lifecycle emissions of volatile organic compounds and 63 percent lower life-cycle emissions of nitrogen oxides. Electric vehicles also emit 43 percent fewer greenhouse gases than the average gas-powered vehicle. On top of this, Xcel Energy just released a four-year plan, which will result in making renewable energy 50% of their energy mix in Colorado. Under this new energy plan, much of Colorado’s electricity mix will be so green that by 2026 an EV that you buy today will have greenhouse gas emissions as low as a car that gets 88 mpg! Even if our grid were was run entirely on oil, natural gas, and coal, electric vehicles still use two thirds less energy than gasoline vehicles.

4. MYTH: They put too much pressure on our electric grid.


Fact: The American grid is currently very well-equipped to handle millions of electric vehicles.

Photo via Nissan

It may seem like electric vehicles would increase demand for electricity so much that we could get a power shortage, but in reality, all of the peak power use in the U.S. comes during summer afternoons, when air conditioning units are turned on. Electric vehicles, on the other hand, are usually charged overnight when electricity use is at its lowest. A study done by Navigant Research found that we can add millions of electric cars to the current American grid without requiring any new power generation. This will help the grid operate more efficiently, which means that by 2030, for every additional EV added, utility customers in aggregate receive $630 in benefit.

5. MYTH: Electric vehicle batteries are dangerous to dispose of.


Fact: They’re easily recyclable into materials for solar and wind energy.

Photo via Green Car Reports

Even though electric vehicle batteries are safe for landfills, they won’t have to be put there. Lithium-ion batteries can be recycled for many uses- including solar and wind energy! They can also be made with recycled materials.

Photo via Vail Daily

In conclusion, there is no doubt that electric vehicles are our future and a critical piece to tackling growing clean energy in our state and country. They are more economical, emit fewer pollutants, and aren’t required to run on a limited resource. With that said, we still need to put policies in place that support the deployment of electric vehicles — join us and help us fight for them!

 

Header photo via wallhaven.

Contact: Jessica Goad 720-206-4235

This evening the Colorado state Senate Finance Committee voted down HB-1242, a bipartisan transportation funding bill. In response, Pete Maysmith, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado, stated:

It is extremely disappointing that just three Senate Republicans stood against the very tenants of TABOR and refused to let the people of Colorado vote on whether to tax themselves to improve our crumbling transportation system.

Coloradans from across the state weighed in and said they wanted a way to fix our roads and bridges, build safer sidewalks and routes to schools, and  invest in infrastructure to move people, not just cars.

We are committed to working with Senate and House leadership to continue to find solutions that allow Colorado to be prepared for future growth and changes. We thank Senator Grantham and Representative Duran for their tremendous efforts.