Contact: Jace Woodrum, 720-412-3772

Xcel Energy, the largest electricity provider in Colorado, today took the next step in its “Colorado Energy Plan,” which provides a roadmap for how Colorado can move toward a clean energy future. The new details show that bids from renewable energy developers were the lowest ever seen in the U.S. to date, meaning that Xcel customers will benefit from lower costs while Coloradans will enjoy cleaner air.

“The fact of the matter is this: renewable energy like wind and solar will save ratepayers money while cleaning up carbon pollution,” said Maria Handley, acting executive director at Conservation Colorado. “Nearly ten thousand Coloradans showed their continued and resounding support for clean energy by speaking out for this plan, and the economics prove that it’s time for our transition away from coal. We’re thrilled to live in a state that continues to be a leader in the nation when it comes to the environment and clean energy, and we encourage our Public Utilities Commissioners to approve the Colorado Energy Plan.”

The “120-day report,” filed with the Public Utilities Commission, contains details on the mix of energy sources Xcel hopes to use under its Electric Resource Plan. Not only does the plan include more than 1,800 megawatts of new wind and solar, but it would also double the amount of battery storage in the U.S., making our grid more resilient by storing renewable energy for later use. Prices for solar and wind paired with energy storage were priced lower than existing coal-generated power in Colorado, confirming that clean energy will actually save customers an estimated $213 million.

Xcel’s plan seeks to close two coal plants in Pueblo and replace them with three solar projects and two battery storage projects in the county. Taking these coal plants offline will reduce Xcel’s carbon emissions by approximately 4.5 million tons each year—a reduction of 59 percent from 2005 levels.

This latest report comes after months of public input, during which a record 9,428 people submitted comments to the Public Utilities Commission and dozens more packed their hearings in Denver and Pueblo. The overwhelming majority of this public input was in favor of a clean energy mix for Coloradans.

At the end of the day, it’s all about leadership.

Now that the legislative session is over, we can celebrate what passed, lament what didn’t pass, and plan ahead for what we need to get done next year. Conservation Colorado lauds a few of the stand-out lawmakers who advocated for our state’s communities, public lands, water, and air this session. This year at our annual Rebel with a Cause gala we are excited to celebrate House Majority Leader KC Becker as our 2018 Legislator of the Year for her leadership addressing climate change head-on and for her advocacy in support of measures that protect our communities from the impacts of oil and gas development.

Here are five other exceptional lawmakers whose partnership makes our work possible.

Representative Faith Winter

Representative Faith Winter

It’s easy for conservationists to keep their faith in Representative Winter as an environmental champion. At the Capitol, she is an outspoken advocate for equity in transportation. Rep. Winter was one of the main engineers behind the revised Senate Bill 1 transportation funding measure and helped fight for dedicated funding for options that include more buses, more bike lanes, and more sidewalks. As the Chair of the Transportation and Energy committee, she sponsored legislation like the RTD Regional Transportation District Low-income Fare Program, which aimed to create a program to offer reduced fares to low-income RTD riders. This session, Rep. Winter demonstrated her ability to reach compromise on critical legislation and proved her willingness to take on the culture of sexual harassment at the Capitol, one of the toughest fights we’ve ever seen under the Golden Dome.


Representative Dylan Roberts

Representative Dylan RobertsA mid-term appointment, Representative Dylan Roberts filled the seat of  conservation champion Representative Diane Mitsch Bush when she decided to run for Congress. He got off to a great start with a focus on protecting our water, advancing rural economic development, and preserving our unique landscapes.

Rep. Roberts was a primary sponsor of one of our priority bills, aimed to hold mining companies accountable if their future operations have any negative impacts on Colorado’s water. Despite broad support from local communities, the measure ultimately died in a Senate committee.


Senator Leroy Garcia

Senator Leroy Garcia

Senate Minority Leader Leroy Garcia has emerged as a passionate public lands advocate. He was the prime sponsor on the reauthorization of the Colorado Lottery division, which provides vital funding for Great Outdoors Colorado, a program that supports outdoor recreation and land conservation in all 64 counties in the state. Additionally, in response to the Trump administration’s attempt to lease lands near the Great Sand Dunes National Park for oil and gas drilling, Sen. Garcia penned a passionate op-ed in the Pueblo Chieftaincondemning the federal push to auction off our public lands as “a direct threat to our communities, our economy, and our way of life.”  

As the new Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Garcia has stepped up to the plate and batted on behalf of public lands protections.


Representative Dominique Jackson

Representative Dominique Jackson

Representative Dominique Jackson ardently fights for the safety of her constituents and Coloradans across the state. Rep. Jackson sponsored multiple bills that focused on protecting the constitutional rights of state citizensestablishing a program to offer reduced fares to low-income RTD riders, and adding more safety requirements for oil and gas wells and pipelines. As a member on three important committees in the House, Rep. Jackson seizes on her opportunities to vote on numerous bills that could impact Coloradans’ public safety, environmental health, and human rights.


Senator Kerry Donovan

Senator Kerry DonovanThere doesn’t seem to be a pressing West Slope issue that Senator Kerry Donovan won’t take on. From rural broadband deployment to gathering climate change data, Sen. Donovan advances legislation that addresses the intersections between dynamic policies, resource accessibility, and geographical challenges.

Sen. Donovan also sponsored a water conservation bill, the Reclaimed Water Use On Industrial Hemp bill, that alleviates some of the demand on our overstretched rivers by expanding the opportunities to use recycled water. Together, these pieces of legislation convey Sen. Donovan’s drive to fight for our communities and urban water conservation to reduce the pressure on the water supplies of Colorado’s agricultural industry on the West Slope.


Departing Champions

Speaker Crisanta Duran and Senator Lucía Guzmán


As Speaker of the House and Senate Minority Leader, Representative Crisanta Duran and Senator Lucia Guzman have fought for all Coloradans. They have advocated for urgent action to fight climate change, negotiated bipartisan compromises to ensure transportation options that make sense for all of us, and spoken up for those whose voices have been marginalized for far too long. This session, their leadership in standing by sexual harassment survivors was an exceptional example that such behavior will not and cannot be tolerated.

Senator Matt Jones and Representative Mike Foote


Throughout their tenures in the state legislature, Representative Mike Foote and Senator Matt Jones have partnered as stalwart champions for protecting Colorado communities from the harmful impacts of industrial oil and gas development. This session they worked together on three commonsense oil and gas bills, including the Protect Act, which would have enhanced the ability of local government to regulate oil and gas activities and hold operators accountable.

 

We’re proud to work with these lawmakers and so many other passionate legislators at the Capitol to fight for the protection of Colorado’s lands, air, and water. But too many good policies were blocked this year by anti-conservation legislators. That’s why we need everyone to join us in the fight for the future and help us elect pro-conservation leaders in the legislature.

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.

News outlets are reporting that President Donald Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt are expected to begin the process of rolling back national clean car standards in the coming days. These standards are widely supported, save Coloradans money at the gas pump, and reduce smog and toxic pollution.

“Trump and Pruitt are forcing EPA to review and reverse years of clean air policies, including the most effective safeguards to protect public health and cut carbon pollution,” said Noah Long, senior attorney with Natural Resources Defense Council. “Coloradans will be hurt by this rollback unless the state stands up to assert its right to clean air.”

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.

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.

“These rollbacks will cancel out nearly all of the climate benefits that will be provided by the governor’s executive order on climate,” said Will Toor, director of transportation programs for the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. “They will also make it harder for Colorado to meet federal air quality standards and will force consumers to pay hundreds of millions of dollars a year in additional fuel costs. They will leave Colorado residents poorer and breathing dirtier air,”

“The federal clean car standards save Coloradans money every time we fuel up our cars and result in less air pollution every time we drive,” said Danny Katz, director of CoPIRG. “The Trump administration is taking action to make cars more inefficient, which will cost us at the pump and every time we step outside for some fresh air.”

With this federal rollback, states that have adopted their own standards will continue to enjoy the benefits of cheaper car travel and cleaner air, while other states will move backward with dirtier and less efficient vehicles. Conservation groups in Colorado are calling on the governor to take action so Colorado can continue to see the benefits of cleaner cars, even as federal protections are undone.

“Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt’s rollback of the clean car standards endangers our public health and environment and will stifle Colorado’s transition to the clean energy economy,” said Jim Alexee, Director of Sierra Club’s Colorado Chapter. “Governor Hickenlooper has advocated for having the cleanest air in the nation, and now he has an important opportunity to put Colorado in the fast lane to protect our health and climate, and to keep us from wasting money on gas.”

“These rollbacks will be devastating for our climate and our air,”  said Sophia Guerrero-Murphy, transportation advocate at Conservation Colorado.  “Governor Hickenlooper has committed to cleaning up Colorado’s air pollution, and to achieve that goal we need to see bold action in our state for clean transportation.”

Background:
These national emissions standards have benefited Colorado both in terms of cost savings and better air quality.

  • According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, no other federal policy is delivering as much oil savings, consumer benefits, and carbon emission reductions as the 2012 Federal Fuel Economy and Vehicle Emissions Standards.
  • Those states that have adopted the Advanced Clean Car standards will continue with their low emission vehicle standards (ten states in total). In other states, substantially dirtier and less efficient vehicles will be allowed to be sold.
  • These standards from the EPA pushed car manufacturers to make their cars more fuel efficient. For Colorado, that means the average on-road fuel economy of new cars and trucks in 2025 will be 37 mpg versus an average of 21 mpg from before these went into effect.
  • According to AAA, the average cost of owning and operating a vehicle in 2017 is $8,649. Because of the federal emissions standard, the average Colorado household would have seen $2,700 in savings by 2030 from lower gas bills.
  • Transportation is the #2 source of greenhouse gas emissions in Colorado, and the highest in the nation.
  • The greater Denver area ranked the 6th worst in the country for bad air days in 2015, and we are still in not in alignment with federal air quality safety regulations.

Today the House Select Committee on Climate Responsibility will hold its first of three hearings to investigate solutions to the problems that climate change poses to our Colorado way of life. The committee will hear from experts from across the state focusing on energy efficiency, rural economic development opportunities, and the electricity sector.

Leading environmental, business, and agriculture organizations are excited about the focus of the Select Committee:

“Climate change is real, and it is already affecting those of us who live, work, and play in Colorado. The longer we wait to cut our carbon pollution, the direr the consequences will be for our state, economy, and communities. Colorado needs to take bold actions, and this Select Committee is the perfect place to explore how Colorado can be a leader among states.” – Amelia Myers, Energy Advocate, Conservation Colorado

“Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) is pleased to be involved with the House Select Committee, and we appreciate their leadership in tackling these difficult issues. This Committee is an important step to evaluate smart solutions to curb greenhouse gas emissions while also growing jobs across the state. There are more than 66,000 people working in Colorado’s clean energy economy — an increase of 6% over the previous year. From experience, we can expect Colorado’s economy to continue to grow from smart policies that benefit our environment.” –Susan Nedell, Rocky Mountains Advocate, Environmental Entrepreneurs

“The livelihoods of Colorado’s farmers and ranchers, rural economies, and our food supply are all vulnerable to the extremes of climate change. The National Young Farmers Coalition thanks the committee for taking action to address these challenges, including highlighting climate solutions already being practiced by some of Colorado’s most innovative farmers and ranchers and opportunities to encourage further investment in voluntary climate-smart agriculture practices and markets.” – Alexander Funk, Western Policy Director, National Young Farmers Coalition

Outside of the Select Committee, the legislature will also consider bills that seek to address the effects of climate change. HB18-1274, for example, would set a goal of reducing our statewide carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050 from 2005 levels, a goal that is in line with Governor Hickenlooper’s executive order as well as the Paris Climate Agreement.

Contact:

Jace Woodrum, 720-412-3772
Susan Nedell, 303-250-4559

Written by Audrey Wheeler

Colorado’s Senator Cory Gardner has claimed many times that he values our outdoors and environment. Unfortunately, when it comes to conservation and environmental issues, Senator Gardner has little to brag about. In fact, Gardner has voted with President Trump 92.4 percent of the time since Trump took office, both on environmental issues and everything else that’s come up in the Senate.According to the League of Conservation Voters’ 2017 National Environmental ScorecardSen. Gardner received a zero percent score. According to the 19 Senate votes scored, Gardner could not have been a worse ally for the environment. Let’s take a look at some of his votes.

1. For Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

Protesters outside of Gardner’s Denver office raise the cry against Scott Pruitt.

In spite of hundreds of calls to his office, protests outside of his office, and social media campaigns, Gardner supported Scott Pruitt. Pruitt has denied man-made climate change and is known for his many lawsuits against the EPA. Now he is the head of the agency.

2. For Rick Perry to be the Secretary of Energy.

Perry’s famous slip where he forgot the Department of Energy was one of the agencies he wanted to eliminate is not even his biggest disqualifier for being Secretary of Energy. He has ignored the consensus around climate science and has many financial ties to energy companies, yet Congress — and Sen. Gardner — approved him for the position.

3. For Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon Mobil, to be Secretary of State.

Tillerson led Exxon during its long-term campaign to spread lies about climate science and deceive the public. He also has deep ties to Russia and Putin, which should have disqualified him from representing our country on the international stage. Instead, Congress voted to confirm him.

4. For Ryan Zinke to be Secretary of the Interior.

At first, Zinke seemed like the least extreme member of Trump’s cabinet. However, his financial backing from the oil and gas industry makes him less than suitable to manage our public lands. His record since becoming Secretary of the Interior has been peppered with misuse of funds and efforts to undermine public land protections, like shrinking Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah.

5. To undo a rule that would have made it easier for the public to influence decisions about our public lands.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had recently made a rule to update land management processes. Both experts and the public agreed it was a much-needed step to improving management of our public lands. Senator Gardner’s vote overturned this rule and prevented the BLM from ever making a similar rule. This is an example of shutting out local voices while putting our public lands at risk.

6. His vote to repeal the stream protection rule allows coal companies to have a freer hand in dumping mining debris in streams.

This debris pollutes streams with toxic heavy metals, which can have dire health impacts on the communities nearby. It was yet another move to stand up for fossil fuel companies at the expense of our health and people.

7. To move forward with repealing a rule that protects our air from oil and gas emissions.

Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, leaks from oil and gas sites across the country, wasting taxpayer dollars and exacerbating climate change. The Bureau of Land Management’s Methane Rule established commonsense standards that require oil and gas companies to deploy readily available, cost-effective measures to reduce methane lost through venting, flaring, and leaks. While the rule itself is still in question, there’s no doubt that Sen. Gardner went against the wishes of most Coloradans and voted to repeal the rule.

9. To open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. 

This vote was snuck into the Tax Bill that Congress passed in December 2017. There was a proposed amendment to remove the piece of the Tax Bill that allowed for drilling in the Arctic Refuge — but Sen. Gardner voted against the amendment, and voted to pass the Tax Bill. Now the largest protected wilderness in the country, known to the indigenous Gwich’in people as “the sacred place where life begins,” is open to drilling.


In an increasingly blue state which Gardner won by a slim margin in 2014, he’s becoming one of the country’s least-liked politicians. Not only did Coloradans vote decisively for Hillary Clinton, but they care about the issues Gardner has attacked. The environment is a key example.

During his 2014 campaign, Gardner repeatedly claimed to be “Not That Kind Of Republican”. In order to win Colorado, he tried to separate himself from the extreme partisanship and positioning of his party. He advocated for clean energy and protecting future generations.

Cory Gardner’s 2014 campaign video was all about the environment.

“What can we do to make sure we are protecting this beautiful environment?” he asked on the campaign trail. However, Senator Gardner’s promises to be a “new kind of Republican” have proved to be empty.

On environmental issues, Gardner’s track record leaves much to be desired. Despite his efforts to portray himself as a Westerner who values public lands and protecting our future, his voting record tells the truth.

At the same time, Gardner still claims to love the environment. In February, he and Senator Bennet introduced a package of public lands bills designed to fix a couple of tiny issues with Colorado’s public lands. These bills would affect a grand total of less than 1,000 acres of public lands — out of 24 million acres in Colorado. Although Gardner says he’s “proud” to work on bills like this “that will ensure future generations of Coloradans are able to enjoy our state’s natural treasures,” these bills are a distraction from his anti-environmental onslaught.

We must continue to tell Senator Gardner that Coloradans don’t want to see him siding with Trump. Especially when it comes to our air, land, and water, which he campaigned for and claims to support, Gardner needs to vote with his constituents.

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

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper today announced major steps to fight climate change, including putting the state of Colorado on track to meet the emissions reductions targets of the landmark Paris climate agreement and joining Colorado into the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of 13 states and Puerto Rico committed to meeting the goals and objectives of the Paris Agreement. 

“Times like these demand decisive action, and we are pleased to see Governor Hickenlooper join the burgeoning movement among states, cities, and businesses to tackle climate change,” said Pete Maysmith, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado. “The actions that the governor has announced will not only help us fight climate change, but will bring clean energy jobs and business innovation to the Centennial State. With today’s announcement, President Trump has become even more isolated from the world, whose leaders are taking aggressive action to fight climate change. We are excited to work with Governor Hickenlooper to meet or exceed all of these important targets.”

Other actions in the governor’s announcement include:

  • Measurable goals for carbon emissions cuts in the utility sector, as well as those for energy efficiency.
  • Supporting electric vehicle infrastructure in Colorado. 
  • Focusing on making buildings more sustainable.
  • Adopting greenhouse gas tracking and reporting requirements for Colorado, which will enable the state to identify opportunities to cut pollution and therefore save energy and money.
  • Spurring economic development in Colorado’s coal and mining communities.
  • New partnerships with local governments to fight climate change.

The 2015 Paris Agreement included a worldwide goal of limiting temperature increases to no more than 2 degrees Celsius and ideally 1.5 degrees Celsius. As part of this, the U.S. set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to between 26 and 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, and also outlined “mid-century” goals to get to zero emissions.

Colorado’s clean energy economy is rapidly expanding, with 62,000 jobsalready in the clean technology sector and more than 2,000 cleantech companies. Nearly 90 Colorado businesses have pledged to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Written by Audrey Wheeler

A year ago, we reported on the West Elk Coal Mine, a highly contested mine in Colorado’s Gunnison National Forest. At that time, we and many other Coloradans were concerned about Arch Coal’s proposal to expand its coal mine, which would destroy 1,720 acres of forest.

Now, those concerns have become reality. Just two weeks ago, the Trump administration’s Forest Service announced that it is forging ahead with a plan to allow the company to expand the mine. If approved, this decision will cause irreparable harm on the national forest in more ways than one.

To take a step back, the West Elk coal mine is located in western Colorado, north of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. It’s an extremely controversial mine for a variety of reasons, including its location inside a roadless area of a national forest, its exemption from a new moratorium on coal leasing, and the fact that it is owned by formerly bankrupt company Arch Coal. But perhaps the most disturbing issue is the air pollution that it already causes, which would increase if the mine expands.

Mount Gunnison towering over the Sunset Roadless Area. The aspen forests on the right would be damaged by the mine expansion. Photo by Ted Zukoski of Earthjustice.

The West Elk mine has already been the single largest source of methane pollution in Colorado, spewing 58,000 tons of methane into the air every year. Methane — an immensely potent greenhouse gas — has more than 80 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide, and is a major contributor to climate pollution.

Although Colorado has some of the strongest rules in the nation for methane pollution from oil and gas activity, as the Colorado Independent reports, “Unlike methane from oil and gas drilling, coal mine methane remains unregulated at both state and federal levels.” The proposed expansion to the coal mine could mean emitting enough methane to negate half of the emissions prevented by Colorado’s methane rules for oil and gas.

Plus, under Arch Coal’s plan, more than six miles of forest will be bulldozed for roads and up to 48 drilling pads will be built in the Sunset Roadless Area, which connects to the West Elk Wilderness. The area is a rolling landscape of aspen and spruce-fir forests that provide habitat for native black bear, elk, lynx, and cutthroat trout.

The actions by the Trump administration to move forward with this mine expansion are even more disturbing because of how they deal with the impacts of government projects on climate change. Previously, government environmental reviews like this had to take into account the impact of the project on climate change. Now, the Forest Service claims that calculating climate impacts is not an “appropriate tool at the project level” and is “no longer representative of governmental policy.” This comes out of a Trump executive order that disbanded the agency working group associated with it.

Hikers in the Sunset Roadless area near the West Elk mine. Photo by Ted Zukoski of Earthjustice.

The Forest Service wants to give Arch Coal access to more than 17 million tons of coal — but at what cost? The West Elk Mine already has over a decade of coal in reserve, and this decision not only ignores the economic realities that face the coal industry, but it generates even more greenhouse gas emissions, further exacerbating climate change. Coal has been central to the local economy in this area for generation, but this coal mine expansion is a bad idea for the forest and for our climate.

The negative consequences of expanding the West Elk Coal Mine and the damage it would cause to our national forest are obvious. The U.S. Forest Service is asking the public to weigh in on this problematic West Elk Coal Mine expansion. Take action today to send a message to the administration that we value our public lands too much to watch them be destroyed. Follow this link to sign a petition to the Forest Service.

This one decision could destroy aspen groves, displace native wildlife, and vent methane pollution into our air. It’s a sign of what to expect under the Trump administration in terms of our public lands — and it’s up to us to stop it.

Cover image: The West Elk Mine. Image from WildEarth Guardians flickr.

Contact: Jessica Goad 720-206-4235

The Colorado state Senate just passed HB 1227, a bill to extend a successful energy efficiency program, on a 21-14 vote. The state House has already passed the bill, so it is going to Governor Hickenlooper’s desk.

Theresa Conley, Advocacy Director at Conservation Colorado, made the following statement:

This is an important win for Colorado. Energy efficiency programs have been wildly successful in our state, having saved consumers money and helped our environment. Despite misleading information that this bill would cost ratepayers money, its passage demonstrates that bipartisanship can be found on energy issues. We thank Senators Priola and Fenberg, as well as Representatives Winter and Lawrence, for their teamwork and for their commitment to Colorado’s consumers and our environment.

Colorado has long been a bipartisan leader in energy efficiency policies. Energy efficiency saves money for families and businesses and reduces air pollution. A Colorado bill passed in 2007 created the Energy Efficiency Resources Standard, which requires energy savings goals for utility companies, providing incentives for implementation of energy efficiency programs. This program is set to expire in 2018, and HB 1227 extends it through 2028.

Since its implementation in 2009, the EERS has created over 40,000 jobs, avoided 1.85 million metric tons of pollution, and saved Colorado consumers and businesses over $1.3 billion in utility costs. HB 1227 ensures the continuation of programs that help Colorado consumers and business save money, support existing jobs, create new jobs, and benefit our environment.