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.
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
DENVER— Today, SB 19-181, Protect Public Welfare Oil and Gas Operations, passed the Colorado State Senate on a 19-15 vote.
The bill will:
- Refocus the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to prioritize health safety and the environment over industry profits;
- Empower local governments to have a stronger say by clarifying basic powers such as zoning and noise limitations and allowing local oversight and enforcement of operations;
- Addresses the growing climate, air, water, and wildlife impacts of oil and gas development across the state including increasing regulations for methane, a dangerous air pollutant that is a significant contributor to climate change;
- Better protect property owners from forced pooling; and,
- Combat the growing problem of orphaned wells by setting forth a rule making around financial assurances and bonding requirements for oil and gas permits.
Conservation and community groups responded to the bill’s Senate passage with the following statements.
“Thank you to the Colorado State Senate for acting decisively to prioritize Colorado’s air, water, and residents over oil and gas industry profits. This bill is nearly a decade in the making. We urge the House to act swiftly, pass these common-sense reforms, and send them to Governor Polis to sign so we can put Coloradans’ health and safety first.”
— Kelly Nordini, Executive Director, Conservation Colorado
“This is a transformational step forward for a common sense, balanced approach to fracking in Colorado. We applaud leaders in the state Senate, and local officials across Colorado, for their bravery in the face of corporate special interests.”
— Jim Alexee, Director, Colorado Sierra Club
“We are thankful to the state Senate for their leadership and for taking the time to bill thoughtful legislation that truly puts the health and safety of Colorado communities first. It is past time that we make health and safety the priority of the state when if comes to Big Oil and neighborhood drilling.”
— Sara Loflin, Executive Director, League of Oil and Gas Impacted Coloradans
“The state Senate is showing real national leadership, showing other states how to protect communities from the public health and safety impacts of oil and gas extraction. The House should follow suit quickly.”
— Sam Gilchrist, Western Campaigns Director, NRDC
“Western Coloradans cheer the passage of SB 181 out of the state Senate as a long overdue step to protect the public health and safety of residents living with the impacts of oil and gas.”
— Emily Hornback, Director, Western Colorado Alliance
Written by Audrey Wheeler
Coloradans are more concerned than ever about climate change — and it’s not hard to see why.
According to the latest Conservation in the West poll, concern about climate change has gone up in every western state since 2016. Here in Colorado, 77 percent of voters say climate change is a serious problem — the highest in the region. And for the first time ever, majorities of voters across the West, including conservative bastions like Wyoming and Utah, are worried about climate change.
This shift is drastic. Where did it come from? Its roots may be found in the impacts of the climate crisis unfolding in our communities.
The more we see the effects of climate change happening around us, the more concerned people are about the urgency of the problem. In fact, a new poll found 74 percent of Americans say extreme weather in the past five years (such as hurricanes, droughts, floods and heat waves) has influenced their opinions about climate change.
Here in Colorado, those impacts have been real and, in some cases, drastic.
Colorado just had its second-driest summer on record. Three of the largest wildfires in state history happened over a span of just four months. More than 440,000 acres burned, destroying homes, impacting agriculture, choking our rivers with ash and sediment, and shutting people out of public lands.
The Yampa River was placed on a “call” for the first time ever. As a result, many people with water rights from the Yampa were shut off. The river shrunk to a trickle through Dinosaur National Monument. Popular fishing spots from the Crystal to the Colorado Rivers were closed due to low water and warm temperatures.
Colorado is not alone in facing these extreme weather disasters. The five warmest years in recorded history have been the last five years, with 2018 coming in as the fourth-hottest year. Dire predictions from scientists about our planet’s future are coming true, right before our eyes.
Together, these facts lead to a simple conclusion: the time has come for the West to lead on climate action.
Coloradans are ready to do something. A full 62 percent of Colorado voters say climate change is an extremely or very serious problem, up 23 points in just the last few years.
We need our leaders to listen to Coloradans and act now, before the problem gets worse. While it is encouraging that more and more people care about our climate, we can’t wait for the next disaster to strike. Instead, we need action now to show the West — and the nation — how a single state can take the lead.
Colorado has led the way on climate action before. Back in 2004, we were the first state to pass a renewable energy standard by ballot measure. In the past year, we became the only interior state with Low-Emission Vehicle standards to make our cars and our air cleaner. Our biggest utility, Xcel Energy, was the first utility company in the nation to commit to 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2050.
Now, we can lead again. Colorado has the opportunity to show the country that it’s possible to act on climate. Moreover, we can prove that it’s possible in a state that produces fossil fuels. Let’s call on our decision makers to put our state on the map for more than beautiful vistas and craft beers — let’s be the state that starts the momentum to act on climate.
DENVER — Today, in one of his first major administrative actions, Governor Jared Polis signed an Executive Order that will reduce carbon emissions for Colorado’s transportation sector, the second-largest source of carbon pollution in our state. Governor Polis’ action sets in motion a plan to accelerate large-scale adoption of, and increase consumer choice of, Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) in Colorado.
Additionally, the Executive Order:
- Creates a transportation electrification workgroup to develop, coordinate, and implement programs and strategies to support widespread transportation electrification.
- Directs the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to develop a rule to establish a Colorado Zero Emission Vehicle program.
- Revises how the state will allocate nearly $70 million from the Volkswagen “Dieselgate” case to focus all remaining, eligible investments on electrification of transportation, including transit buses, school buses and trucks.
- Orders the Colorado Department of Transportation to develop a ZEV and clean transportation plan to support the widespread deployment of electric vehicles in ways that save energy, reduce congestion and improve our transportation network.
In response to the Governor’s announcement, advocates released the following statements:
“Governor Polis hit a stand-up triple today — cleaner air, more car choices for consumers, and an important first step on climate. We are eager and excited to continue working together to bring nationally leading climate policy to Colorado.” — Kelly Nordini, Executive Director, Conservation Colorado
“We should not have to choose between clean air and getting to where we need to go. Electric vehicles will cut pollution in a way that will save us money. The cost to fuel an electric vehicle is a third of the cost of filling up at a gas pump and electric vehicles have fewer maintenance costs. We applaud Governor Polis for speeding up our transition to an electric-powered future.” — Danny Katz, Executive Director, Colorado Public Interest Research Group (CoPIRG)
“Governor Polis is leading on critical environmental issues right out of the gate. By attacking tailpipe pollution he taking on climate change and pushing for cleaner skies for Colorado at the same time. This action is good for the economy, great for the environment and shows Colorado leadership. With the federal government AWOL on all these issues, Colorado is stepping up.” — Noah Long, Senior Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
“Colorado is a national leader in fighting greenhouse gas pollution from power plants – but the science is clear that we must also reduce pollution from cars and trucks if we want to avoid the most devastating impacts of climate change. Governor Polis’ executive order will allow us to leverage Colorado’s increasingly green electricity generation fleet to achieve further and compounding reductions in pollutants from the transportation sector. Governor Polis’ leadership will help our state prepare for growing consumer demand for electric vehicles while cleaning up our air and reducing greenhouse gas pollution that causes climate change.” — Erin Overturf, Clean Energy Program Deputy Director, Western Resource Advocates
“The Colorado Sierra Club applauds Governor Jared Polis for making one of his first actions in office one that addresses the climate crisis in our state. While the federal government goes backward on climate action, Governor Polis showed today that Colorado will charge ahead on solutions to cut pollution from transportation, putting at least one million more electric vehicles on the road by 2030.” — Jim Alexee, Director, Colorado Sierra Club
“It’s already clear that Coloradans are calling for action on climate. Utility providers and municipalities are making bold commitments to protect our environment and now our state government is following suit. Governor Polis’ charge to clean up Colorado’s transportation sector is exactly what communities across Colorado want to protect our health, our air, our environment, and our economy.” — Kelsey Maxwell, Clean Cars Organizer, Environment Colorado
“This executive order is a significant commitment by the new governor to support forward-thinking policies that will advance the adoption of electric vehicles, saving Colorado residents money at the fuel pump, and helping to lower electric rates, all while making our air cleaner and lowering carbon pollution. SWEEP congratulates Governor Polis for this bold action.” — Howard Geller, Executive Director of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP)
“By committing to electric vehicles, Colorado is investing in a clean transportation future. We know electric vehicles run cleaner, reducing the pollution that causes climate change—and that advantage is only going to increase as Colorado invests in renewable electricity. We know they’re cheaper to operate and maintain—a driver in the Denver area can save more than $700 a year fueling their car on electricity instead of at the pump. Thanks to Governor Polis, Colorado could join the forward-looking states who are building a strong electric-vehicle market. With smart policies, more Colorado drivers could reap the benefits of electric vehicles.” — Michelle Robinson, Clean Vehicles Program Director, Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)
“We are thrilled to have Governor Polis joining us here at The Alliance Center to sign this executive order. Colorado has long been a leader in sustainability, and it is encouraging to see our new governor committing to our citizens’ health, to stronger environmental protections and to our clean energy economy.” — Brenna Simmons-St. Onge, Executive Director, The Alliance Center
“Today Governor Polis took an important step forward by announcing his commitment to increase the deployment of electric vehicles and improve Colorado’s readiness for a clean, zero-pollution transportation system. We’re excited about Governor Polis’ vision, and look forward to working with the new administration to accelerate these critical clean technologies while simultaneously rolling up our sleeves to secure the science-based reductions in climate pollution essential to protect Colorado’s environment and its economy.” — Pam Kiely, Senior Director of Regulatory Strategy, Environmental Defense Fund
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.
How Colorado is ready to lead on the Environment
Drove 1,800 megawatts of clean energy. Cut pollution from cars. Organized thousands of Coloradans to stand up to the Trump administration. Won 53 elections, electing more women and people of color than ever before in Colorado. When we pause and take a look back, it’s clear that our 2018 was pretty eventful.
Building a movement requires many small successes. And this year — with the support of our many dedicated volunteers, donors, and activists — we accomplished a lot to protect Colorado’s environment.
First, we put more time, money, and effort into electing pro-conservation leaders than ever before — and it paid off! We played a part in getting Jared Polis elected as governor and in electing pro-conservation majorities in the Colorado legislature!
But election victories aren’t the only thing we accomplished this year.
Energy and Climate
- We helped bring more clean, renewable energy to Colorado through Xcel Energy’s Colorado Energy Plan. This will save an estimated $213 million for energy consumers, replacing two coal-fired power plants using renewable energy, existing (but no new) natural gas resources, and doubling the amount of battery storage that is currently under contract in the entire country. We sent nearly 10,000 public comments (a new record) to the Public Utilities Commission to make this plan a reality.
- We worked to pass a bill that supports rural communities impacted by economic downturn, like a big industry leaving. The “REACT” bill provides much-needed coordination and resources for state agencies to assist rural communities. It does this by designating a specific state agency, the Department of Local Affairs, to coordinate economic assistance.
- We made big moves for cleaning up pollution from cars in Colorado. In November, Colorado became the first interior state to pass Low Emission Vehicle standards for cars and trucks, which will reduce pollution from tailpipes, help Coloradans breathe easier, and save money for families at the pump. We lauded Governor Hickenlooper when he kicked off the process with an executive order in June, and we brought input from more than 7,600 Coloradans to the agency in charge.
- We played a part in passing a bill to increase funding for transportation, a need that has grown as Colorado’s population has boomed. A true compromise, this transportation funding bill includes flexible, statewide funding that invests in transit, bike, and pedestrian options as well as highways and roads. SB 001 provides funding for all parts of the state to decrease congestion, promote equity, and reduce air pollution.
Wilderness and Public Lands
- We partnered with U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and Representative Jared Polis to introduce a bill in both chambers of Congress to permanently protect 96,000 acres in the White River National Forest, including Camp Hale as the first-ever National Historic Landscape. The Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness, and Camp Hale Act will protect the natural beauty, outdoor recreation, historic resources, and wildlife habitat in the nation’s busiest national forest.
- We supported a bill to reauthorize Colorado’s lottery to continue funding outdoor recreation and land conservation. Through this program, Great Outdoors Colorado has returned more than $1.1 billion to the people of Colorado through projects like community parks and trails in all 64 of Colorado’s counties.
- We mobilized thousands of Coloradans to speak up to the Trump administration, sending in comments on proposed changes to sage grouse plans, getting local elected officials on board to stop drilling near the Great Sand Dunes, and recruiting 103 businesses to send a letter to Congress to protect the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
- We worked with our legislative champions to pass three bills that allow reused water to be used for flushing toilets, growing hemp and marijuana, and cultivating edible crops. Reused water is recycled water that has been treated so it is clean enough to use again. These bills will save water for Colorado.
- We won a lawsuit to keep the Dolores River flowing. There is now water that is legally allotted to restore stream flows for the fish and wildlife that depend on it.
- Conservation Colorado Education Fund and Protégete registered 10,360 new voters in Denver and Pueblo counties—75 percent of whom identify as people of color—to help increase voter participation in Colorado.
- We graduated 44 Promotores, or individuals from Latino communities who committed to learning how to organize and lead their community toward local and statewide solutions through civic engagement. This included our first-ever youth Promotores, who are local high school and college students going through our program.
- We helped defeat Amendment 74, a ballot measure supported by out-of-state corporate interests who wanted to change the character of Colorado neighborhoods and our rural landscapes by giving developers loopholes to build anything they like, anywhere they like.
The Fight Continues
Our country is seeing a rare convergence of political climate, public concern, and capacity to make meaningful changes in the next few years — and those changes will be led by the states. We’re taking on some of our biggest campaigns ever to pass bold policies that will make Colorado a leader for the nation.
We’ve come up with a vision for the future that serves as a clear call for our leaders to make meaningful policies in 2019 and beyond to protect Colorado’s environment. It includes:
- Putting a limit on carbon pollution and advancing clean energy innovation
- Electrifying and cleaning up our transportation sector
- Safeguarding communities from oil and gas development
- Keeping water in our rivers and ensuring our drinking water healthy
- Protecting public lands and wilderness for all Coloradans
With your help, we can continue to grow our movement and make Colorado’s future one that we’re proud to leave as our legacy. Donate before the end of the year to support our vision for the future and become a part of the fight!
Today, three conservation organizations — Conservation Colorado, Western Resource Advocates, and Environmental Defense Fund — praised Xcel Energy’s announcement that the Minnesota-based corporation and Colorado’s largest utility had committed to going 100 percent carbon-free by 2050 company-wide. It is the most ambitious commitment to climate action of any power company in the country and their commitment will help Colorado play a leadership role nationally on both climate and clean energy.
“Colorado has yet again established itself as the national leader on clean energy, which is great for our economy, our air and future generations,” said Kelly Nordini, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado. “By pledging to cut its carbon pollution and transitioning away from fossil fuels, Xcel is leading the way to the future with Colorado as a national model in fighting climate change. With governor-elect Jared Polis also committing to a bold vision and leadership on climate and clean energy policy, our future is only getting brighter.”
“Utilities have a critical role to play in reducing overall carbon emissions. Xcel Energy should be commended for its leadership in setting ambitious, achievable goals,” said Western Resource Advocates President Jon Goldin-Dubois. “Our experience working with Xcel Energy in Colorado for over a decade – to expand renewable energy and reduce carbon emissions – has proven that a healthy economy and protection of our environment can go hand in hand. As Xcel Energy takes action to meet these goals, it will expand opportunities, and dramatically re-shape the energy and carbon landscape across its service area.”
“The grim description of public health impacts in the recently-released National Climate Assessment have provided yet more evidence of the urgency of mitigating climate change. Simply put, we must eliminate carbon pollution, and Xcel Energy is the first power company in the country to commit to doing just that,” said Pam Kiely, Sr. Director of Regulatory Strategy for Environmental Defense Fund. “Xcel has outlined targets that are actually commensurate with the ambition needed from the power sector for us to achieve economy-wide goals, and we look forward to working with Xcel to demonstrate how a decarbonized power sector can catalyze a carbon-free economy.”
Xcel is the largest electricity provider in Colorado. In August, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission approved Xcel’s Colorado Energy Plan, which was supported by WRA, Conservation Colorado, EDF and a diverse coalition that included business, labor, and other leaders. Under the plan, Xcel will retire two aging coal-fired power plants and replace the energy with wind, solar, and the nation’s largest battery-storage project—many of those investments being driven directly into Pueblo County, where the coal plants will be retired. It will dramatically cut carbon pollution, create hundreds of jobs, and will lead to the investment of over $2 billion in Colorado’s rural economy.
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