Written by Petrika Peters

Have you heard? For the FIRST time in history the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed limits for unnecessary carbon pollution from power plants in the U.S. — and IT’S A BIG DEAL!

The EPA estimates that with the new safeguards in place, carbon pollution from power plants will be reduced 30% nationwide by 2030. What has us so jazzed at Conservation Colorado? We know how well-positioned Colorado is to lead on this rule by implementing exciting new measures.

In Grand Junction we celebrated this momentous event by gathering to get fired up by passionate speakers. Were you there? Tag yourself in our Facebook album.

We have a lot to celebrate, but this is only the beginning.

It’s hard to predict exactly what will happen in the coming decades in Grand Junction. We know it will get hotter — maybe not every year right here, but our temperatures are trending upward. I can’t imagine the Grand Valley any hotter in July, but think Phoenix because that is our future without action.

On top of that, longer frost-free seasons, less frequent cold air outbreaks, and more frequent heat waves accelerate crop ripening and maturity.  That acceleration reduces our yields of tree fruit and wine grapes, stresses our livestock, and further strains our agricultural water consumption. Those are scary things and they are happening now.

I love our peaches, cherries, and bounty of local produce — I want the next generation to experience and love these things as well. I know you do too. The good news? There are lots of things you can do RIGHT NOW to help combat climate change.

Here are my “Top 5 Must Do’s” this summer in the Grand Valley to fight climate change.

1) Sign the petition supporting EPA’s Carbon Pollution Safeguards. Did I mention this is a BIG DEAL!?

2) Turn up your thermostat a couple of degrees. I know it’s hot, but waiting one more degree before pumping the AC and swamp coolers can make a HUGE difference for our climate.

3) Eat one more vegetarian meal a week. Let’s face it: cows produce a lot of global-warming causing methane pollution. I’m not saying cut all beef out, but veggies are delicious and here in the Grand Valley we are lucky to have access to tons of local produce! Click here to see a list (compiled by our friends at Field to Fork CSA) of Grand Junction restaurants that serve local food. What are you waiting for?? Get out and enjoy the good food!

4) Bike to work! (or take public transport). June was bike-to-work month in Grand Junction. Now that you are in the habit, don’t stop! You can bike most of the year here — embrace it. It’s good for your health, soul, and the climate!

5.) GJ is hot, hot, hot! Take local action to combat climate change. From illuminating education presentations to comment writing, we’ve got it happening. Join Us!

Stay cool folks, it’s hot out there.

Your Field Organizer,

Petrika

Welcome to our new monthly feature by one of our West Slope Field Organizers, Petrika Peters. In this spot, she’ll feature local citizens’ groups that she is personally involved with, and that help Conservation Colorado’s grassroots efforts, in the Grand Junction area. Enjoy!

A newer, but nonetheless powerful and inspiring, group of concerned citizens in Mesa County is working to protect our air from harmful pollution. They dubbed themselves “Citizens for Clean Air” (CCA) and they are chock full of movers and shakers already making huge impacts for our Grand Valley air quality.

I have had the pleasure of working with this inspiring group for the past year and have seen first hand some of the amazing things they have accomplished in such a short time. Without CCA, Conservation Colorado would not have been able to accomplish much of what we have been pushing for, including landmark air quality rules that protect us from pollution or increased public awareness of the harms of oil and gas pollution.

These motivated citizens are working in innovative ways to make substantial positive change in our community; change that impacts all Coloradans, who, well, breathe. Anyone from the West Slope knows that nearly every winter in the Grand Valley, we are challenged by significant health consequences due to the cold air inversions that hold pollution in.

Protect our #COAir rally

Last year we experienced a record-breaking 11 days of national air quality standard violations due to high levels of particulates and other known pollutants such as nitrogen oxide (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) contained within the inversion. During this time, Mesa County issued “no-burn” announcements on 47 days, another record.

As a group, Citizens for Clean Air recognizes that our air problems are multi-faceted and require the “cleaning up” of many different pollutant sources. Vehicle emissions, agricultural burning, non-EPA certified wood-fired stoves, and industry emissions all contribute to our “brown cloud,” as well as a host of associated health and economic troubles. You see, bad air harms both our health and our quality of life – leading to increased school absences, sick days, medication use, and visits to doctors and emergency rooms; all of which have an economic and personal impact on our community.

Of late, CCA became increasingly concerned about the impact that oil and gas drilling has on our public health. Oil and gas operations spew horrible pollutants into our air.  The production, transportation, and processing life cycle of oil and gas is a major contributor to ground level ozone. Ozone causes a slew of health issues. Some of these include acute eye irritation, chest congestion, nausea, dizziness, and shortness of breath.

Air pollution is impacting our crops, the livelihood of farmers, and our tourist economy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture states that, “ground-level ozone causes more damage to plants than all other air pollutants combined.” Ozone levels are already at a level that causes some loss of crop production. Colorado farmers are already enduring a severe drought; reduced harvests due to poor air quality only worsen their diminishing bottom line.

Let’s face it–who wants to visit a valley known for its haze? In order to cultivate our quality of life and sustain our economy, Conservation Colorado and CCA recognize that we MUST fix our air quality problems.

That’s why CCA is a formal party to the recent Air Quality Control Commission’s (AQCC) rule-making to improve safeguards from oil and gas pollution. The new AQCC protections will have a real impact our local air quality. While oil and gas emissions are not the sole contributor to our brown cloud, there are over 1,000 wells in Mesa County and more on the horizon if the proposed FRAM Whitewater project goes through.

I continue to be inspired by the motivation and active participation of this group of committed citizens. As CCA strives to solve this multi-faceted problem, we know one thing for sure–the Grand Valley simply can’t handle any more air pollution from any source.

This year’s brown cloud settled over the valley in December and despite the constant reminder, inspiration is urgently needed to get local governments and residents to act to improve our air quality.

To learn more or join the efforts of CCA contact Karen Sjoberg at 970-628-4699 or mmagency1@mindspring.com

Your Field Organizer,

Petrika

Written by Sarah White

On January 1st, 2013, following a combined 60 year history of fighting for our spectacular environment, Colorado Environmental Coalition and Colorado Conservation Voters merged to create Conservation Colorado. Since then, we have hired 9 new staff members, opened a new field office in Durango, and engaged our 16,000 members to take 7,220 actions!

What else have we done? The list goes on, but we picked out 7 notable achievements that we couldn’t have reached without your support.

1) New Faces

We didn’t just hire anyone, we hired the best of the best to inject new energy to the endless tasks we take on to fight for Colorado’s future. Combining old and new has proven to be effective as we saw numerous bills we supported become law this year and took on new campaigns to protect Colorado’s land, air, water, and people. Plus, they certainly made Halloween fun:

2) That Good ‘Ole Rocky Mountain Air

Greenhouse-gas-causing methane harms Coloradans and adds to climate change. Don’t believe us? Just look at the stories we collected on Facebook of Coloradans living with oil and gas operations in their backyards. Basically, it’s a big – huge – deal that Colorado will be the first state to make oil and gas operators capture methane and other harmful pollutants. And, it’s all because of you.

3) Record-breaking events

Turns out our volunteers and members think we put on quite the party – so much so that we had record breaking attendance at almost all of our events this year. From our annual Rebel With A Cause Gala to our Save The Ales beer tasting event, Coloradans came out to support what they love: our state. In addition, we hosted the Beyond The Bones hiking series in Northwest Colorado, the ClimateFest concert in Denver, West Slope Harvest Celebration in Palisade, and the Save The Last Dance book tour all around Colorado.

4) Hey-O Durango!

We started out with offices in Denver, Grand Junction, and Craig, but soon realized that 3 wasn’t enough. So we did something crazy – we started an office in Durango! Our Southwest Organizer, Emily, was welcomed with open arms and plenty of things to start organizing around.

5) Local Grassroots Organizing Pairs Well With National Legislation

Wait a second, Colorado’s wildlife habitats and wilderness areas are being talked about on a national level? That doesn’t happen every year. Both the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act and Browns Canyon National Monument and Wilderness Act have widespread support from the communities, local businesses, and elected officials.  We couldn’t be more excited to see the progress these bills have made and to support the Colorado lawmakers who are working to protect them for future generations.

6) Water Planning

It’s one of those things that seems boring and wonky, but necessary. Yet, as Theresa showed us in her popular blog series, Drought Days, water is anything but. From our extreme summer drought to our extreme September floods, water proved more than ever just how vital it is to Colorado. This past year, we joined together with coalition partners to pass a reusable water bill and encouraged Governor Hickenlooper to clean up Colorado’s water – because water is anything but boring. Still don’t believe us? Just watch Colorado Rising, a short film featuring a family’s story about the High Park Fire of 2012:

7) 252 – woot woot!

252 may just be a number to you, but it’s a reason to celebrate for us. We fought hard during the legislative session for common sense safeguards against oil and gas pollution, but their multi-million dollar lobbying efforts pushed us back. However, we won big with Senate Bill 252, which increases access to wind and solar energy across ALL of Colorado. It became law this summer and Colorado will now get cleaner, sustainable energy…and jobs to go along with it.

We can’t put it all in one blog post, but simply put, we have had a good first year. We’re proud of this state and you should be too. But with our first birthday coming up on January 1st, we realize that there’s always more work to be done to protect the state that we love for future generations.

That’s where you come in – we have asked you to make calls, write emails, send in letters, and follow us on social media. And, you have done it all. We couldn’t achieve any successes without you and we definitely couldn’t have accomplished as much as we did without your passion for Colorado. When thinking about who you want to give to this Colorado Gives Day, invest in a sure thing, invest in us and other members and volunteers like you who have made it clear to rest of our state that Colorado’s conservation voice deserves to be heard.

Written by Sarah White

Earth Day is upon us today and we’re excited! We focus a lot of our efforts on the long-term conservation of Colorado’s beautiful lands and clean air. But today we celebrate what we can do right now help our environment.

These steps are simple, but they add up to create a massive impact on climate change in our state every single day. Now, we know you have been told to do some of these things before, but Earth Day is a day to remind ourselves that these steps are more important now than ever before.

1. Let’s start with the obvious: reduce, reuse, recycle:

Did you know that there’s an island in the Pacific Ocean that is the size of Texas and is completely made up of trash? Although we have made great progress, far too much of our everyday lives ends up harming our air, land, and water. We can all do our part by reducing what we consume, try and reuse as much as possible, and recycle the rest.  Every little bit helps reduce the amount of new, harmful chemicals that are introduced into the environment, helps us use energy more efficiently, and minimizes the land our landfills need.

2. Help preserve our water supply by conserving your water:

April snow has made us hopeful for a good snowpack this year, but years of drought have depleted Colorado’s reservoirs to the point where it’s going to take many years of above-average snowfall to bring them back to normal. So, how can you help? From your sink to your lawn, conserve your water usage.

3. Walk, ride your bike, use our great transportation system:

We all know that climate change is the problem of our age but want can an individual do?  The car you drive and how you choose to get around can have a huge impact on your energy consumption. Better yet, get out and enjoy our great Colorado weather;  ride your bike, walk, or take public transportation to help you get where you need to go.

4. Go outside this Earth Day:

No, seriously, go outside. How will that help? We hope the more time you spend exploring our beautiful state, the more passionate you’ll become about preserving it for future generations. Check out some of the areas we are working to protect. But remember, take only pictures and leave only footprints.

5. Get involved with your elected officials:

Final self plug: we have made this step easy for you; Take an Action. Tell your local legislators why you are concerned and what they can do to get your support. Our vast landscapes, wildlife, rivers, and our tremendous outdoor opportunities help define our beautiful state. Any day a lawmaker hears from a constituent is a day that he or she must think a little longer about the impacts that his or her decisions have.  Check out our latest Actions and send your elected official a message that you care about protecting Colorado!