For Immediate Release: Thursday, February 28, 2019

Contact:

  • Garrett Garner-Wells, Communications Director, Conservation Colorado, 303-605-3483
  • Emily Gedeon, Conservation Program Director, Sierra Club, 720-308-6055

DENVER — Today, Governor Jared Polis, House Speaker KC Becker, and Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg announced a bill to ensure health, safety and the environment come first in our oil and gas regulatory system.

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;
  • Better protect property owners from forced pooling; and,
  • Combat the growing problem of orphaned wells by setting forth a rulemaking around financial assurances and bonding requirements for oil and gas permits.

Over the last decade, Colorado’s oil and gas industry has stood in the way of numerous reforms. They blocked efforts to protect health and safety and spent millions on politics and public relations. At the same time, the industry has cut corners on public health and safety, brazenly sited industrial oil and gas operations in residential neighborhoods, and ignored their obligation to develop and maintain a social license to operate. These actions have resulted in a backlog of overdue reforms that this bill seeks to correct.

Conservation groups responded to the bill’s release with the following statements.

“Coloradans have a right to expect that their health and our clean air and water come first — this is Colorado after all. But our current laws governing the oil and gas industry have not kept pace with industrial processes that are ever closer to our neighborhoods, leaving them to bear the consequences. We must reform Colorado’s broken oil and gas system so that our health, safety and environment are not a question but a top priority for state regulators.”

  • Kelly Nordini, Executive Director, Conservation Colorado

“The lack of modern, common sense protections from fracking for oil and gas in Colorado has endangered the health of our children, and put our first responders in harm’s way. It’s time for change. It’s time for Colorado’s leaders to put the health and safety of Coloradans before the profits of oil and gas companies.”

  • Jim Alexee, Director, Colorado Sierra Club

“As a resident of Battlement Mesa, I have come to understand that the COGCC usually behaves as a partner with the oil and gas industry rather than an advocate for protecting the health and safety of Colorado citizens. Their mission to ‘foster’ oil and gas development leaves citizens at serious risks with little or no recourse when major industrial operations move into our communities. NOW is certainly the time for change at the COGCC!”

  • Dave Devanney, member, Western Colorado Alliance

“It is time for leadership, and it is time for meaningful action to put health and safety first when it comes oil and gas. Big oil has become increasingly brazen over the last few years in running roughshod over Colorado communities – forcing massive industrial operations in the midst of homes and schools and forcibly taking the minerals of tens of thousands of private Coloradans. It is time that our legislature act, and put the health, safety, and property rights of our communities first.

  • Sara Loflin, Executive Director, League of Oil and Gas Impacted Coloradans

Written by Audrey Wheeler

Here in Colorado, the oil and gas industry has had too much influence for too long while our communities and environment suffer.

Over the last decade, communities across the state have found themselves with no power to stand up to the industry when drilling comes to their neighborhoods. The very agency that is supposed to regulate the industry also has a dual mission to “foster” industry growth. And hundreds of oil and other toxic spills related to drilling occur in Colorado every year.

At the same time, the oil and gas industry has cut corners when it comes to Coloradans’ health and safety. They’ve built industrial operations in residential neighborhoods, ignoring community complaints even during the most egregious examples, such as in Battlement Mesa, with a pad 350 feet from homes. Companies have spent tens of millions on public campaigns and elections. As a result, nearly every commonsense policy to keep the industry in check has failed.

But with new leadership in the governor’s office and the state legislature, we have the chance to make a change.

A bill announced today by Governor Polis, Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, and House Speaker KC Becker would protect public health and safety, give more power to local governments, and enact new protections for our environment. We’re overdue for reforms like this to our state laws.

Here are 10 reasons why these reforms are urgent for Colorado:

Oil and gas operations pose a threat to our health and safety.


  1. Our state has had at least 116 fires and explosions at oil and gas operations from 2006 to 2015.
  2. After the deadly explosion in Firestone that killed two people, former employees of Anadarko accused the company of sacrificing safety to boost profits. In court documents, they claimed company culture was cavalier with regard to public safety and oversight.
  3. Coloradans who live close to oil and gas operations face health risks including cancer, birth defects, and asthma.

Colorado’s current oil and gas regulations are too weak to protect our communities, workers, and environment.


  1. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has a nearly uninterrupted, 68-year history of failing to deny permits for oil and gas companies to drill—regardless of the risks that wells pose to health, safety, and the environment.
  2. Fifty-one oil and gas workers were killed on the job in Colorado between 2003 and 2014. Several more have been killed since then.

The industry has blocked commonsense reforms time and time again.


  1. Oil and gas companies have a successful history of defeating regulations: only four of twenty-five bills that would have protected health and safety were passed by the state legislature since 2013.
  2. In 2018 alone, the oil and gas industry opposed six bills aimed at increasing protections for communities and the environment, including those to put oil and gas rigs further away from school playgrounds, improve accident reporting, and facilitate mapping of underground pipelines that run near homes—a direct response to the tragedy in Firestone.

And they spend millions to influence the public and legislators at every step of the political process.


  1. Oil and gas companies invest heavily in defeating citizen efforts to improve our state laws or implementing those that help their bottom line. In 2018, they spent $37.3 million to defeat Proposition 112, a ballot initiative for larger setbacks for oil and gas development, and advance Amendment 74, an effort to guarantee company profits in the state constitution.
  1. The industry donates big money to elections, both traceable and dark money. In the 2018 election cycle, oil and gas interests gave close to $1 million to just one electoral committee, the Senate Majority Fund (known as the “campaign arm for Republican senators” in Colorado).
  2. Oil and gas interests paid at least $200,000 on lobbying to sway decision-makers at the Capitol in 2018.

This story isn’t about one irresponsible company, but about a well-funded campaign to maximize profits over public safety and stop at nothing to get there. It’s past time we adopted common-sense rules that make the industry a better actor in Colorado — and we need to seize that chance.

In response to Senate passage of S. 47, which would permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), among other provisions, Conservation Colorado issued the following statement from Executive Director Kelly Nordini:

“Today’s vote is the first step in fixing a problem of Congress’ own making. It was tragically unnecessary for LWCF to expire in the first place and though Senator Cory Gardner supports LWCF, we saw no real leadership to make it happen. And, in a state where three-quarters of voters consider themselves outdoor recreation enthusiasts, Senator Gardner missed another major chance that his colleagues in Utah and New Mexico took advantage of: to conserve thousands of new acres of public lands. As the only Colorado Senator to never sponsor a wilderness bill, Senator Gardner should support the CORE Act immediately and work to ensure its passage.”

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.

The People’s Climate March in Denver. Photo by Christian O’Rourke

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.

When it comes to oil and gas development in Colorado, our legislators can’t revisit the state’s outdated laws soon enough.

From January 14 to 29, Coloradans witnessed: cleanup efforts of a pipeline leaking thousands of gallons of contaminantsalong the Colorado River; over a thousand gallons of natural gas fluids flow into Parachute Creek; and oil and gas regulators decline to hold a hearing about their approval of a natural gas well pad located 500 feet from homes in Battlement Mesa.

And these problems are not new.

For communities on the frontiers of oil and gas development, the past decade has been marked by the expansion of heavy industry into their backyards. At the same time, regulators have allowed industry to call the shots while leaving communities on the sidelines.

These issues have persisted for far too long. Our state legislators must enact common-sense reforms that prioritize health, safety, and our environment over corporate profits.

Colorado’s current oil and gas policies protect industry profits, not people.

As it stands, the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC)—the agency responsible for regulating the oil and gas industry—is to “foster” exploration and production of oil and gas resources and protect public health, safety, and welfare.

These priorities are fundamentally in conflict with one another, which is no surprise to those who have been impacted by oil and gas development.

“The COGCC is an arm of the industry,” said Dave Devanney, Battlement Mesa resident and Chairman of Battlement Concerned Citizens, a group formed to protect the community from the effects of fracking and drilling. “[It’s] not helping citizens deal with the issues of oil and gas in their neighborhoods. There are very little consequences.”

Leslie Robinson, a Garfield County resident and Chair of Grand Valley Citizens Alliance, a community group raising awareness about oil and gas impacts, shared this sentiment by saying, “The mission of the COGCC is to encourage oil and gas development in Colorado and make sure that the royalty owners can get to their assets as cheaply as possible. That’s it.”

To community members, it’s clear: the current system is broken.

People deserve a say in what happens in their own neighborhoods.

In Colorado, local governments can be sued for trying to respond to oil and gas development. This is problematic not only because local governments should have a say in what their communities look like, but because of the health impacts that oil and gas operations can have on our families and environment.

Leslie Robinson

As oil and gas operations move closer to our homes, schools and parks, Coloradans are increasingly exposed to toxic air pollutionspills, explosions and fires, and a host of health impacts including cancer, birth defects and asthma.

But even as new technologies allow operators to expand into heavily populated urban and suburban neighborhoods, these concerns are largely ignored. Though oil and gas development has evolved rapidly over the past decade, our laws and regulations haven’t kept pace, leaving our communities and environment to bear the consequences.

Leslie and Dave know firsthand what it’s like to live with the fear of what these impacts will have on their communities.

Dave Devanney

Leslie experienced the potential danger of oil and gas development when a spill happened on the same day that the COGCC announced a new natural gas pad would be drilled in Battlement Mesa. The pad—located only 508 feet away from homes and 600 feet from the Colorado River—alarmed the community. Leslie and others asked the COGCC to more closely examine the impacts and dangers of the project, but the community’s calls fell on deaf ears.

As a resident living in close proximity to the proposed natural gas pad, Dave knows that we shouldn’t drill “where our kids go to school and where they play—where we [all] live, work and play.”

Regulators need better tools for ensuring that industry operations are responsible, accountable, and transparent.

Each year, hundreds of spills occur in Colorado, countless wells are abandoned, and thousands of property owners are forced to sell their mineral rights through a practice known as “forced pooling.”

We need more inspectors to ensure wells, gathering sites, and storage facilities are maintained and operated properly. We also need clearer standards to hold oil and gas operators accountable for any damage that they cause to our landscapes, rivers and communities. Not only for us, but for Colorado’s air, water, wildlife, and future generations.

“It’s necessary for our kids to grow up in a healthy environment,” said Dave.

“I don’t have any children myself, but I don’t want to ruin the world for the next generation. It’s important to be a voice,” said Leslie.

It is past time for our state legislators to act. With the 2019 legislative session underway, our elected leaders have the responsibility and the opportunity to reform this broken, outdated system and put our communities’ health first.

Today, Senator Michael Bennet and Representative Joe Neguse announced they are introducing the Colorado Outdoor Recreation & Economy (CORE) Act, the most significant and broadly supported effort to protect Colorado’s public lands in a generation.

This public lands package combines several popular proposals into a single bill that will protect wild places across the state, including:

  • The Continental Divide and Camp Hale in the White River National Forest, the most-visited national forest in the U.S. New wilderness and special management areas, as well as the country’s first National Historic Landscape, will preserve the history, wildlife, clean water, and booming outdoor recreation economy in the area;
  • The iconic mountains in the San Juan and Uncompahgre National Forests of southwestern Colorado, by expanding popular wilderness areas and including lands that were left out of initial wilderness designations;
  • The Thompson Divide in the White River National Forest, by ensuring that no future oil, gas, or mining development occurs on its rugged, wild lands. This will protect historic ranching and agriculture, outdoor recreation opportunities, and the state’s largest intact aspen grove along Kebler Pass; and,
  • The Curecanti National Recreation Area, which will be formally established by Congress as a unit of the National Park system, includes an abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities including boating, hiking, and fishing.

Together, this bill will protect approximately 400,000 acres of iconic Colorado public lands for future generations.

“Coloradans love our lands and this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity that Senator Bennet and Representative Neguse have put together— protecting some of Colorado’s most popular, iconic and historic public lands in a way that is widely supported by locals. We urge the entire Colorado delegation to listen to Coloradans and pass the CORE Act in this Congress.”

  • Kelly Nordini, Executive Director, Conservation Colorado

“The CORE Act continues a proud Colorado tradition of protecting our wild lands, clean water and outdoor recreation opportunities for future generations.  This legislation would protect some of the best that Colorado’s public lands have to offer, including pristine watersheds and key wildlife habitat along the Continental Divide, three popular fourteeners, and the rugged mountains and ranching heritage of the Thompson Divide. The CORE Act has something for everyone and all Coloradans stand to benefit. We are thankful for the leadership from Senator Bennet and Representative Neguse in writing the next chapter of Colorado’s proud history of supporting wilderness and public lands.”

  • Jim Ramey, Colorado State Director, The Wilderness Society

“We are grateful for Senator Bennet’s ongoing work to protect public lands in Colorado, and that Representative Neguse is championing these important issues as well. Both of them understand how important these lands are to residents of Colorado and our way of life — as well as people throughout the country who utilize and cherish these public lands.”

  • Will Roush, Executive Director, Wilderness Workshop

“The Colorado Mountain Club is pleased to see the CORE Act protect some of the most iconic landscapes in our state. This legislation protects an array of recreation opportunities —  backcountry skiing in the Ten Mile Range, climbing and mountaineering in the San Juans, mountain biking in Summit County, and hiking and camping along the Gunnison River –- and these designations will ensure that Colorado’s unique outdoor experiences are preserved for future generations.”

  • Julie Mach, Conservation Director, Colorado Mountain Club

“Over the past 10 years, a wide diversity of constituents has hammered out compromise agreements to ensure the future of treasured iconic Colorado landscapes in the San Juan Mountains.  We and other local proponents are tremendously appreciative that Senator Bennet has responded to the call from recreationists, businesses, landowners and local elected officials in Ouray, San Juan and San Miguel counties by sponsoring Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act.”

  • Jimbo Buickerood, Lands and Forest Protection Program Manager, San Juan Citizens Alliance

“Considering how long and hard so many people have worked on protections for the San Juan Mountains and the expansion of the Sneffels Wilderness Area itself, it’s rewarding to see Senator Bennet honoring local community’s wishes in introducing the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act.  This reflects the consensus reached by citizens, stakeholders, and local elected officials.”

  • Jim Stephenson, Public Lands Chair, Ridgway-Ouray Community Council

“We thank Senator Bennet for his strong leadership in introducing the CORE Act in Congress.  In our area, the lands included for permanent protection include all those in the previously introduced San Juan Mountains Wilderness Bill.  In the decade since the bill was first introduced, its boundaries and delineations have been refined to ensure that existing uses are still allowed, while critical areas are protected.”

  • Lexi Tuddenham, Executive Director, Sheep Mountain Alliance

“Colorado hunters, anglers and recreationists have long understood the need to proactively conserve those intact tracts of wildlife habitat and fisheries that sustain our longstanding outdoor traditions.  We appreciate Senator Bennet’s continued leadership to advance legislation in Colorado’s central and southern mountains that would help maintain the opportunities to experience the unique sense of solitude and challenge that our wild public lands and waters provide.  We standby ready to help move this legislation forward.”

  • Tim Brass, State Policy and Field Operations Director, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers

Resources
Video B-roll for Broadcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikDq0XHzsWI&feature=youtu.be
Images for Reproduction: https://www.wilderness.org/articles/media-resources/media-resources-colorado-outdoor-recreation-economy-core-act

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

Today, the Colorado Supreme Court released its ruling on Martinez vs. Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission, retaining the status quo of an under-regulated industry.

In response, Kelly Nordini, executive director of Conservation Colorado, released the following statement:

“For too long, Coloradans asking for stronger health and safety protections have lost at the legislature, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and in the courts. That needs to change.

“Today’s Martinez decision is yet another reminder that we need to tilt the balance back in favor of Coloradans’ health and safety. With a new administration in place, we look forward to working with Governor Polis, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and legislative leaders to reform this broken system and put our communities first.”

Background on the Case

In 2013, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez and several other young Coloradans asked the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to adopt a regulation stating that no drilling permits will be issued without a finding that drilling can occur without impairing Colorado’s air, water, and wildlife and that it does not adversely affect public health. The COGCC denied the request, holding that it lacked legal authority to issue such a rule. In March 2017, the Colorado Court of Appeals set aside the COGCC’s decision. The Court held that state law makes “protection of public health, safety and welfare, including protection of the environment and wildlife resources” a prerequisite for approving oil and gas development. While rejecting the COGCC’s legal interpretation, the Court did not address whether the agency should adopt the specific rule language requested by the Martinez plaintiffs. Today, the Colorado Supreme Court issued a ruling overturning the appeal and siding with the COGCC.

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.

Transportation


  • 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.

Water


  • 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.

 

Communities


  • 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!