Incredible wildlands are in jeopardy of being developed for oil, gas, and mineral extraction by the BLM – the very federal agency who manages them.
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.
Just last week, Colorado’s AQCC voted to adopt a Zero Emission Vehicle standard which will bring help Coloradans breathe easier and bring more EVs to CO.
Denver, CO – Today, following a vote by Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commissioners to adopt a statewide Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) standard, organizations and businesses working to save energy, cut carbon and clean the air we breathe, lauded the vote and what a ZEV standard means for the future of Colorado.
The new ZEV standard will reduce harmful tailpipe pollution, protect our health and climate, and save Coloradans money. By requiring auto makers to build and deliver an increasing number of electric (or zero emission) vehicles to Colorado, the standard will increase the availability of new electric vehicle models and help accelerate the clean vehicle market in the state. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment estimated that the rule will prevent more than 3 million tons of climate pollution while saving Coloradans more than a billion dollars through 2030.
Colorado is the first state in a decade, and the 11th state overall, to adopt the ZEV standard. Governor Polis issued an executive order in January directing the Air Quality Control Commission to consider taking this step. Today’s vote concludes the process.
“Increased adoption of electric vehicles is a win for clean air, climate action, and our Colorado way of life,” said Kelly Nordini, executive director of Conservation Colorado. “Today’s vote means Coloradans will have many more choices for electric vehicles and moves Colorado closer to reclaiming our title as a conservation leader for the West and the nation.”
“Colorado is plugging into electric vehicles in a big way,” said Travis Madsen, Transportation Program Director at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. “It’s a smart choice. We will save billions of dollars while cleaning our air and protecting our climate. We look forward to working with automakers — who supported Colorado’s adoption of this standard — to accelerate electric transportation in additional states.”
“Today’s vote to adopt the ZEV program is a big step towards reducing transportation pollution for Coloradans across the state, which is a triple win for our health, our climate, and our wallets. We applaud the AQCC and Governor Polis for making Colorado the first Mountain West state to adopt a ZEV program,” said Emily Gedeon, the Conservation Program Director of the Colorado Sierra Club. “We are closely tracking the automakers’ agreement to make sure that it doesn’t slow down progress on bringing electric vehicles to our smoggy state. Our communities deserve mobility options that don’t pollute the places we live and play in. Automakers must now deliver on their support for clean cars and uphold their promise to support the authority of Colorado and any other state to adopt a ZEV program.”
“Unhealthy air days are all too common and completely unacceptable. By adopting the Zero Emission Vehicle program we are taking big steps to cut air pollution from the tailpipes of vehicles and quicken our transition to a cleaner, electric-powered transportation system.” – Danny Katz, Director at CoPIRG (Colorado Public Interest Research Group).
“As the Trump administration moves to roll back federal clean car standards, Colorado’s adoption of a ZEV standard is an essential step forward.” said Simon Mui, Deputy Director of the Clean Vehicles and Fuels Group at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Colorado and other states must step up to reduce carbon emissions that threaten public health and contribute to climate change. That’s why we’ll continue working at the state level to make clean cars accessible and affordable, in Colorado and beyond.”
“With today’s vote, Colorado joins the growing coalition of states positioned to reap the public health and economic benefits of the rapid transition to a cleaner transportation sector with zero-emitting vehicles. That automakers for the first time expressly support Colorado’s adoption of the ZEV program is further evidence of this transition. Coloradans will see cost savings at the pump, cleaner air, and a safer climate. EDF applauds the move and looks forward to continued progress to ensure Colorado meets its climate goals.” – Alice Henderson, Attorney, Environmental Defense Fund
“Colorado’s economic future will be driven by the clean energy economy with today’s vote, “ said Susan Nedell, Mountain West Advocate for E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs). “Adopting a ZEV standard launches the state into a top destination for new cleantech investment and expansion while saving Coloradans on fuel and maintenance, protecting the state’s vital outdoor recreation and tourism industries, and creating thousands of new jobs across energy storage and clean vehicles.”
Garrett Garner-Wells, Conservation Colorado, 303-605-3483, email@example.com
Travis Madsen, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, 720-937-2609, firstname.lastname@example.org
Emily Gedeon, Sierra Club, email@example.com, 720-308-6055
Nadia Perl, Natural Resources Defense Council, 510-928-1717, firstname.lastname@example.org
The impacts of climate change, pollution, and rapid population growth put serious strains on Colorado’s water supply and our many water-dependent industries, which includes Colorado’s booming craft beer scene.
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)
- 18 Senators had a perfect score.
- The lowest scores were Senators Chris Holbert, Vicki Marble, and Jim Smallwood at 0 percent each.
- 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.”
At the intersection of nature and consumerism exists an economic opportunity. Companies can manipulate a nature lover’s identity into a costly pursuit of image. Pair that with pressure to show the most glamorous fraction of your life on social media, and the outdoor retail industry thrives. Yet, as the climate crisis continues to escalate and stolen lands receive long-overdue recognition, the once-idealized outdoor recreation industry is poised for criticism. To survive, outdoor recreation businesses and conservation organizations must reevaluate how they serve all people and the good of the planet. The question is: how do these considerations shape a new kind of Outdoor Retailer show event, and inclusive conservation?
I first commend the Outdoor Industry Alliance’s decision to move their annual trade show from Salt Lake City to Denver in 2018 to take a stand against Utah’s government officials support of the reduction of Bears Ears National Monument. This choice diverted the show’s $110 million annual economic impact to a city proud to value conservation, environmental respect, and equity.
But, even as places are selected for their environmental values, the environmental movement must look to who is uplifted and honored. Disproportionately, leadership and participation in environmental organizations and outdoor recreation has looked white and affluent. Although significant progress has been made in gender diversity in the field, the most powerful positions are scarcely held by women and people of color. In response to this historical inequity, I join many others to envision an inclusive environmental movement.
At Elevate Conservation: Outdoors for All, the tide of inclusive conservation rose at the hands of dedicated thought leaders who have created, are creating, and will continue to create new conservationist identities.
In the words of Native Women’s Wilderness founder and honoree Jaylyn Gough, “the outdoor industry is currently gleaning billions of dollars from stolen lands.” That means industry professionals and those who claim environmental identities must respect the history of the lands they occupy and enjoy. At Outdoors for All, the Denver Singers began the event with a blessing dance. They acknowledged that Denver is a meeting point for many tribal groups, and continues to be home to 60,000 indigenous people in the Denver metro area. I viewed this acknowledgement as deep recognition of relationship to place–more than a token gesture. In her speech, Gough urged attendees to ask ourselves, “whose land are you exploring?” I am searching for what is next for an environmental movement with a history of racism, eugenics, and displacement.
Speakers at the Outdoors for All event inspired the crowd with their work, action items, and callouts. In addition to Jaylyn Gough’s powerful message, Hopi Vice Chairman Clark Tenakhongva highlighted the collaborative work of Hopi, Zuni, Ute Mountain Ute, Diné, and Ute tribes in the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition to protect 1.3 million acres of sacred tribal lands. Yesica Chavez, Student Coordinator at Environmental Learning for Kids, called upon organizational leaders to offer paid internships and jobs to underrepresented groups and enact equitable hiring practices. Mustafa Santiago Ali, Vice President of Environmental Justice, Climate, and Community Revitalization at the National Wildlife Federation, outlined three ways we can win on climate: honor culture, anchor our efforts in a place of authenticity, and live up to the responsibility that comes with privilege. I walked out of the event feeling represented and inspired, but with lingering questions about next steps.
My Jodo Shinshu Buddhist community in Honolulu taught me the importance of gratitude, which is central to my identity. I am privileged to never worry about going hungry, be a college graduate, and often claim my white or multiracial identities at my convenience. Now, I add that I am grateful to have paid work at Conservation Colorado for a cause I support deeply.
While I once found comfort in simply being grateful, the Elevate Conservation event was a powerful reminder that action follows appreciation.
For inspiration, I look to leaders in the Green 2.0 movement, including the visionaries of Protégete working to empower voices of Latinx communities. For suggestions about my own actions, I find a wealth of resources online that do not demand more education and emotional labor from leaders.
Work to shape inclusive conservation is real and necessary. Leaders who carve out space in a historically exclusive movement deserve recognition not only at events like Elevate Conservation: Outdoors for All, but every single day. This fight is not the sole responsibility of groups who have been historically excluded. Instead, it is a call to every conservationist, outdoor recreationist, or nature appreciator–especially executives within the field. We can answer this call by speaking out against discrimination, supporting inclusive organizations, and listening to underrepresented voices.
Your actions may be influenced by your own sources of power, but as Mustafa Santiago Ali reminded attendees: we all have the power to make change happen.
Thanks to your support, Colorado’s Climate Action Plan — the most significant climate change bill in Colorado history — became law!
We still have work to do to ensure this law reaches its full potential, but it puts Colorado on a path toward cleaner air, healthier communities and a zero-carbon future.
Here are three ways the Climate Action Plan (House Bill 1261) will help Colorado tackle climate change and build a better future for our kids and grandkids.
Setting Strong Goals to Limit Carbon Pollution
Reducing carbon pollution is critical to protecting our way of life. Numerous studies show we have a small and shrinking window — 12 years — within which to prevent the most damaging impacts of climate change.
The Climate Action Plan sets science-based reduction targets to cut carbon pollution at least 26 percent by 2025, 50 percent by 2030, and 90 percent by 2050 compared to 2005 levels in order to limit warming and its harmful impacts.
Each year, at least 3.5 million Coloradans are exposed to unhealthy air pollution and its many health-related impacts including asthma, respiratory problems, and lung disease. Projections show carbon pollution-fueled increases in smog and wildfire smoke will exacerbate these impacts while extreme temperatures will cause a spike in the number of heat-associated illnesses and death.
Cutting carbon emissions ensures that Colorado does its part to avoid a climate crisis and leave a clean, healthy environment for future generations.
Creating Cost-Effective Regulations
To put Colorado on track to achieve these targets, the climate plan directs our state’s public health and air quality experts at the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) to find the best, most economical ways to reduce emissions. The plan calls on state regulators to work hand-in-hand with elected officials and industry leaders to ensure that these solutions are cost-effective — one of the many reasons major employers, businesses, and investors across Colorado strongly support this policy.
Decarbonizing our economy presents immense opportunity for our state. Colorado’s clean energy industry is significant and growing, employing more than 62,000 workers and attracting multi-million dollar investments in addition to saving ratepayers an average of 15 to 50 percent on energy costs.
Establishing policies to meet our carbon reduction targets will help Colorado’s clean energy economy continue to grow by driving innovation, job creation and further cost savings for consumers. This will allow us to reinvest in our businesses, employees, and the communities in which they operate.
Engaging Local Communities
The negative impacts of carbon pollution directly affect the health and wellbeing of people across Colorado. But not all communities or individuals are affected in the same ways. Lower-income communities and communities of color who are already more likely to experience chronic health conditions and greater exposure to harmful pollution will be disproportionately burdened by climate change.
Colorado’s Climate Action Plan addresses this inequity by requiring public health leaders to identify specific strategies for reducing emissions in frontline communities and seeking their direct input on how to best do so. These strategies will help communities craft local solutions to protect their residents from climate change.
This is especially important in a state as unique as Colorado. A recent report found that although climate change impacts vary widely across the state, most communities — more than 59 percent — are unprepared to cope with climate disruptions.
Just 26 of Colorado’s 64 counties have a plan for climate action. Source: Colorado Health Institute 2019.
Successfully tackling these changes across Colorado will require policies and approaches that are as diverse as the communities in which they’re created. By accepting public input through robust community engagement processes, the action plan promotes local solutions that are meaningful and inclusive and as a result, more equitable and just.
DENVER — Today, the Colorado legislature voted on final passage of HB 19-1261, the Climate Action Plan To Reduce Pollution. Once signed, HB 19-1261 will:
- Create a framework to tackle climate change by setting science-based goals to reduce carbon pollution, the underlying cause of climate change, of at least 26 percent by 2025, 50 percent by 2030, and 90 percent by 2050 compared to 2005 levels.
- Direct the experts at the Air Quality Control Commission to create cost-effective regulations for the goals.
- Ensure ample opportunity for public input on the best ways to meet the pollution limits in order to ensure a fair outcome for Coloradans across the state.
Coloradans are already seeing the negative impacts of climate change every day. It manifests as poor air quality affecting our health, extreme wildfires, disrupted growing seasons for agriculture, shorter ski seasons, and reduced river flows for rafting and fishing are changing how we live our lives and threatening things we love about our state. In fact, 62% of Coloradans – a full 12 points more than the next-highest Western state – say climate change is a serious problem.
Colorado groups responded to the bill’s passage from the House with the following statements:
“Make no mistake: this is a big deal. The Climate Action Plan to Reduce Pollution ensures that we are doing our part to reduce carbon pollution and leave a livable, healthy Colorado to our kids and grandkids. Thank you to the members of the House and Senate who stepped up to lead. We urge Governor Polis to act quickly and sign this bill into law.”
— Kelly Nordini, Executive Director, Conservation Colorado
“This critical legislation lays the foundation for Colorado to take meaningful action to address climate change. Here in Colorado we see the effects of climate change every day, from more frequent and intense wildfires, to severe flooding to unhealthy air quality and prolonged drought. This legislation puts us on course to cut greenhouse gases and preserve a healthy, livable climate for ourselves and our children.”
— Jon Goldin-Dubois, President, Western Resource Advocates
“Climate change is the pivotal challenge of our time. Colorado’s policy makers are meeting this urgent challenge head on with bold leadership to address our state’s dangerous climate pollution, and they’re doing it in a way that’s consistent with science while strengthening our economy.”
— Pam Kiely, Senior Director of Climate Regulatory Strategy, Environmental Defense Fund
“We are thrilled to see Colorado take such a big step forward in passing the Climate Action Plan,” said Carlos Fernandez, State Director for The Nature Conservancy in Colorado. “Climate change is an urgent problem that is already causing serious impacts in our state. HB 19-1261 will tackle the problem head-on by setting goals rooted in science to cut carbon pollution from every sector of our economy.”
— Carlos Fernández, State Director, The Nature Conservancy in Colorado
“Protect Our Winters commends the Colorado legislature for passing strong climate goals. This bill is immensely important for the future of snowsports and outdoor recreation in our state, which pumps $28 billion into Colorado’s economy annually and suffers in the face of climate impacts, from a diminishing snowpack to increasing wildfires. We are proud our lawmakers recognize these detrimental impacts and their response is bold climate action.”
— Lindsay Bourgoine, Director of Policy & Advocacy, Protect Our Winters
“Young people are at the forefront of the movements against climate change. New Era engages tens of thousands of young voters across this state every year, and in every corner of Colorado, climate change looms large in the minds of these voters. In 2018, Colorado’s young people voted in droves, even outnumbering voters over 60. We turned out because we need action, especially when it comes to the issue of averting catastrophic climate change. HB 19-1261 sets ambitious, yet achievable pollution reduction targets and is exactly the kind of legislation my generation wants and needs.”
— Charley Olena, Advocacy Director, New Era Colorado
“Climate change has quickly become a public health crisis and a serious threat to the health of all Coloradans. Specifically the rapidly warming temperatures affect our cardiovascular, respiratory, and nervous systems. Solving such a massive problem like climate change cannot be done overnight, but we can take the necessary steps now to ensure that our children have the opportunity to live healthier lives. We commend our state’s leaders for taking this critical step with the passage of HB 1261 in protecting the health of Coloradans today and for generations to come.”
— Kate Stigberg, Healthy Air and Water Colorado
“Putting a limit on carbon will improve our air quality and public health particularly those most vulnerable; Colorado’s children. This bill protects our air, our environment and our health while building on the economic success of the renewable energy sector by driving innovation and creating thousands of jobs that cannot be outsourced. Thank you to our state leadership for putting Colorado’s children first as we fight against the impacts of the climate crisis.”
— Christine Berg, Moms Clean Air Force
“We’re proud of Colorado for taking a bold step toward reducing the environmental and economic impacts of carbon production and use in the state. This forward edge legislation acknowledges that there are trade-offs and commits the state to addressing the negative effects of the transition while not compromising on important environmental values. Well done!”
— Carol Hedges, Executive Director, Colorado Fiscal Institute
“Coloradans love our public lands, but as the seventh fastest warming state we’re already facing the impacts of a warming climate like increased drought and more severe wildfire seasons. We applaud Colorado’s leaders for tackling this threat head-on so that present and future generations can continue to enjoy our public lands, drink clean water and breathe clean air.”
— Jim Ramey, Colorado State Director, The Wilderness Society
“Colorado has an opportunity to advance climate policy that brings the tangible benefits of clean energy to Colorado’s underserved communities: reduced air pollution, savings on electricity bills, and access to jobs in our state’s growing clean energy economy. We applaud the House’s passage of the Climate Action Plan today, especially the bill provisions that put equity, inclusion, and frontline communities at the center of Colorado’s climate solutions.”
— Adrienne Dorsey, Executive Director of GRID Alternatives Colorado
“Climate change is happening right now. We have a limited time window to act and prevent the worst disasters from happening. We need to cap our carbon emissions as specified in HB 19-1261 and show that we can protect our future while growing the economy and addressing environmental injustice issues at the same time. Thank you Colorado leaders for taking a giant step forward on the path of innovation, renewal and equity.”
— Indivisible Colorado Legislative Table
Each year our stunning landscapes attract over 80 million visitors to our state. These visitors are drawn to the world-class recreation opportunities that our mountains, lakes, and rivers offer, along with the unique agricultural products that Colorado is known for.
Wildfires scorched more than 430,00 acres of Colorado’s forests and grasslands in 2018.
Owners of water sports businesses who rely on healthy, flowing waterways had real concerns about their future customer base last summer. Flows in nearly every river across the state were at least half of their average and in many places, water levels were too low for fishing and rafting. A drier climate threatens to make these impacts even worse, which could seriously hurt our state’s $3.8 billion water-based recreation industry.
Farmers who depend on adequate water levels to cultivate their fields to feed our communities and a $40 billion agricultural industry feared that their crops and life savings would dry up after some water users were shut off. If our snowpack continues to deplete, water shortages will likely become more frequent along with crop failures and our position as the nation’s largest grower of organic produce.
Ranchers who count on predictable rainfall patterns to nourish our nationally renowned sheep and cattle herds were concerned whether they would have enough water for their livestock to drink, let alone to irrigate pasture or other crops. Inability to plan when and what to plant due to a changing climate could lead to early auctions and selling off parts of herds to avoid long-term profit loss—measures that many have already been forced to take.
There’s no question Coloradans are already grappling with the risks that climate change and air pollution pose to our future way of life. Rising temperatures and dirtier air are jeopardizing our health, livelihoods, agricultural heritage, and outdoor recreation economy.
As one of the fastest-warming states in the nation, Colorado has a responsibility to prevent the worst effects of a changing climate by setting science-based goals to reduce carbon pollution. House Bill 1261, a climate action plan, is an opportunity to create a framework to tackle climate change and preserve our outdoor legacy by setting a 90 percent carbon-reduction target by 2050.
We must act now to ensure a better future for the next generation of Coloradans. Air pollution is already harming our most at-risk populations; hotter temperatures will only exacerbate its negative health effects. It’s up to us to create a climate action plan and leave a livable, healthy Colorado to our kids and grandkids and this bill is critical to protecting our communities, economies, and way of life—now and for years to come.
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