Conservation Colorado’s 2021 legislative scorecard highlights state legislative conservation victories and the elected officials who made them possible.
It’s 2020 and the stakes of the election could not be higher.
It is more clear than ever that leadership matters. We must elect leaders who will fight climate change, who value the health of our communities and our environment, and who will challenge racists practices. You can find out which candidates Conservation Colorado has endorsed here.
But ballot initiatives — the policies that you, as a voter get to decide — are also critical to the future of our state. This year, Conservation Colorado recommends the following positions on general election ballot measures (see more details as to why below):
🚫 Initiative 76: Citizenship Qualification of Voters – NO
Proposition 113: National Popular Vote – YES
Proposition 114: Wolf Reintroduction – NEUTRAL
🚫 Proposition 115: Prohibit Late Term Abortions – NO
🚫 Proposition 116: Reduce State Income Tax – NO
🚫 Proposition 117: Restrict the Usage of Enterprise Funds – NO
Proposition 118: Paid Medical and Family Leave – YES
Denver 2A: Climate Sales Tax – YES
Colorado River District 7A: Property Tax Funding for Water – YES
St. Vrain River District: 7A: Property Tax Funding for Water – YES
Here are more details on the ballot measures we’ve taken positions on, in the order that they will appear on your ballot.
No to Citizenship Qualification of Voters
🚫 Initiative 76 – NO
We stand firmly against this initiative, which is purely a messaging tactic to energize anti-immigrant voters in the 2020 election and poses a clear threat of future voter suppression. Accessible voting is vital to the health of our democracy and getting pro-conservation candidates into office!
Yes to National Popular Vote
Proposition 113 – YES
In 2019, Colorado passed legislation signed by the governor to join the National Popular Vote (NPV) interstate compact. Following its passage, a coalition gathered signatures to place a “veto referendum” on the ballot, marking the first time since 1932 that Colorado will have a veto referendum on the ballot.
Joining the NPV compact is an important step to ensure a democracy that works for everyone!
Neutral on Wolf Reintroduction
Proposition 114 – Neutral
Gray wolves were native to Colorado and the return of this iconic species to our state benefits Colorado’s environment. Conservation Colorado supports the restoration of wolves across Colorado, and reintroduction can accelerate restoration.
However, given our longstanding land and water conservation priorities in western Colorado and our work with rural allies to achieve them, we have chosen to remain neutral on Proposition #114.
If passed , we will work with the Department of Natural Resources and Colorado Parks and Wildlife, as well as with affected communities, to develop and implement the required reintroduction and management plan to create a viable, self-sustaining future for wolves throughout all of Colorado. We strongly encourage the legislature to provide sufficient funding for both rangeland management programs and compensation for livestock producers for losses proven to be caused by wolves.
No to Prohibiting Late Term Abortions
🚫 Proposition 115 – NO
This intentionally confusing ballot measure would ban abortion later in pregnancy, with no exceptions for health or individual circumstances. Proponents of this ballot measure have said outright they want to force a woman to carry a pregnancy to term — even in cases of rape, risks to the woman’s health or a lethal fetal diagnosis. This is an important public health and racial equity issue.
No to Reducing State Income Tax and Restricting the Usage of Enterprise Funds
🚫 Proposition 116 – NO
🚫 Proposition 117 – NO
It takes money to do good work on the environment. Every year, the key state agencies that protect our Colorado way of life — including the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, Department of Natural Resources, and the Colorado Energy Office — receive funds to do their important work, and this measure would severely hamper critical work on climate, oil and gas, and protecting our public lands and waters. We must defeat these damaging initiatives and protect Colorado’s recovery from COVID and the economic crisis.
Yes to Paid Medical and Family Leave
Proposition 118 – YES
The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the systemic injustices faced by Colorado’s communities of color. Without access to paid leave for illnesses that can be caused by pollution, and forced to choose between work and family, frontline communities and communities of color are hit particularly hard. This public health crisis shows that public health, social justice, and environmental justice are inextricably related; this measure would relieve at least one systemic issue Coloradans face.
Yes to Climate Sales Tax
Denver 2A – YES
The measure would increase the sales tax in Denver by 0.25 percent, or 2.5 cents on every $10 to be spend on climate change mitigation and adaptation policies. Food, water, medical supplies, feminine hygiene products, and fuel would be exempt from the sales tax increase. The tax would raise between $36-45 million per year depending on the amount of money that Denverites spend on goods.
The money would be used to fund Denver’s Climate Action Program, specifically job creation in renewable and clean energy technologies, increased investments in solar and renewables, neighborhood-based environmental and climate justice programs, adaptation and resiliency programs that help communities prepare for a changing climate, programs and services that provide affordable and reliable transportation choices, and energy efficiency upgrades.
Yes on Property Tax Funding for Water (West Slope)
Colorado River District 7A – YES
This is an increased mill levy that represents a balanced and responsible way to ensure the West Slope’s water is protected from the pressures of climate change and rapid growth. The Colorado River District has specific plans to use this money on the West Slope to protect clean drinking water supplies, healthy habitats for fish and wildlife, recreation opportunities, and water for farmers and ranchers. It would provide almost $5 million annually to be leveraged with state and federal dollars on projects that have been identified as important priorities for local communities.
Yes on Property Tax Funding for Water (Northern Front Range)
St. Vrain River District 7A – YES
This ballot measure would increase property taxes in order to fund water conservation projects such as water quality, river flows, wildlife conservation, and recreational opportunities. This river district, which encompasses northern Boulder County, a small portion of southern Larimer County, and western Weld County. This is the first time in the 50-year history that the district has asked voters for a mill levy increase. A volunteer board of local residents will oversee spending with the tax sunsetting/expiring in 10 years, and the district will publish an annual public expenditure report/audit identifying the various uses of funds.
Community members and UCD students lead the charge in documenting and fighting unhealthy air pollution in Globeville and Elyria-Swansea.
The Central Mountains Region is rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. And the issues it faces are as diverse as the landscapes it spans.
Application for school districts to apply for funding for clean buses opens October 7th
DENVER – Today, Conservation Colorado, the state’s largest statewide environmental advocacy organization, released Cleaner Air for Denver with Electric School Buses. The new report, by VEIC Research, finds that replacing diesel buses with electric buses will result in more than $100,000 in savings on maintenance and fuel costs and cut harmful pollution.
The report arrives as Colorado school districts prepare to apply to this round of the Regional Air Quality Council’s “Alt Fuels Colorado” Program — which is funded through the multi-million dollar VW settlement with Colorado — opens on October 7th and runs through November 8th. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is administering over $68.7 million in funds as part of the settlement, including $18 million to replace and scrap diesel school buses.
“Every day, kids across across the state are exposed to harmful air pollution from diesel bus fumes,” said Juan Gallegos, Protégete Program Director for Conservation Colorado. “This new report shows that electric school buses will deliver cleaner air to our communities today as we move toward clean, renewable electricity. And in an era of tight budgets, our leaders will be thrilled to know that they can deliver these benefits while saving money. This report is a call to action for school districts, especially those with majority Latinx students, to take action now and apply for the VW settlement money to replace their bus fleets.”
Specifically, the report finds that:
- With each bus replaced, DPS will see a total of $112,353 in fuel and maintenance savings over the lifetime of the vehicle.
- And for each bus replaced, there are $13,044 in societal benefits from the reduced air pollution.
- Electric buses produce less nitrous oxide (NOx) and greenhouse gases (GHG) than new and existing diesel buses, even when including upstream impacts from electricity generation and diesel refining.
- Denver’s grid is getting cleaner so electric buses will offer even cleaner operation in the future.
Denver Public Schools (DPS) is the largest and most populated school district in the state and is a leader in sustainability practices. DPS is one of the few school districts that has a climate change plan.
“We support the efforts of the DPS Sustainability Office and Conservation Colorado, and value the findings from this report,” said Albert Samora, Executive Director of DPS Transportation Services. “Our team has begun to look at alternatives to diesel buses and will incorporate the findings of this report as we progress with our analysis and planning for the future.”
“VEIC was thrilled to work with Denver Public Schools, with the support of Conservation Colorado, to identify a pathway toward a cleaner bus fleet,” said Jennifer Wallace-Brodeur, Director of Clean Transportation at VEIC. “Investing VW Settlement dollars in Denver’s school transportation will yield long term benefits for children’s health and we’re excited to see Denver advancing this important work.”
“Every time we get on a diesel school bus we’re putting our health in jeopardy,” said Joyce Lopis, a DPS student attending Vista Academy High School in Green Valley Ranch. “Transitioning buses to electric will help reduce hospital bills, absent days, and air pollution. We have the right to breathe clean air without putting our health in danger.”
Just last week, Colorado’s AQCC voted to adopt a Zero Emission Vehicle standard which will bring help Coloradans breathe easier and bring more EVs to CO.
DENVER — Governor Jared Polis today announced an executive order to protect iconic Colorado wildlife and the landscapes they call home, aimed at conserving western landscapes and big game species for future generations. Gov. Polis’ order means Colorado will prioritize, coordinate and focus on protecting the traditional migration corridors of Rocky Mountain elk, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, mountain goats, bighorn sheep and moose.
Specifically, the executive order directs:
- Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to compile a status report of wildlife migration and associated science by the end of the calendar year;
- Colorado Department of Natural Resources to identify policy, regulatory or legislative opportunities to ensure the ongoing conservation of seasonal habitat and migration corridors;
- CPW to incorporate the importance of migration corridors into public education and outreach efforts; and,
- Colorado Department of Transportation to enable safe wildlife passage and reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions.
The order will remain in effect until May 1, 2023 unless modified or rescinded prior to that date.
Conservation groups released the following statements in response:
“The health of our wild spaces and wildlife are a measure of the health of our state. Governor Polis campaigned on a pledge to ‘keep Colorado wild.’ Today’s executive order is a first step in delivering on that promise to ensure that Colorado remains wild for future generations.”
– Kelly Nordini, executive director, Conservation Colorado
“Colorado’s wildlife are a key part of our state’s heritage and our outdoor way of life. This executive order will help Colorado balance our state’s rapid growth with the increasing need to safeguard our wildlife by helping to keep their habitats and corridors protected and connected. We applaud Governor Polis for taking action and look forward to continued partnership to enact this measure.”
– Rachael Hamby, Western lands policy analyst, Western Resource Advocates
“These wild places are vital for birds to thrive, taking cover in the winter and stopping over as they migrate. The protections that Governor Polis has set in motion through this Order will benefit many species and set important standards throughout the state.”
– Nada Culver, Vice President for Public Lands, National Audubon Society
“The Colorado Sierra Club applauds the Governor for taking bold action to protect wildlife and our Colorado heritage. Thanks to Governor Polis, Colorado is taking key steps to better understand and protect the historical migration pathways of the animals.”
– Jim Alexee, director, Colorado Sierra Club
“We humans share this beautiful state with the wildlife, plants, insects, and birds that are part of nature. The efforts of Governor Polis to protect the wildlife and their habitats through the designation and maintenance of wildlife corridors will enhance the quality of life for us all. These corridors will ensure that future generations will experience the rich diversity of animal life that we do.”
– Sherry Schenk, Public Lands Committee member, Western Colorado Alliance
“Colorado’s leadership in advocating for protection of wildlife corridors is more important than ever before . In southwest Colorado, the most critical wildlife corridor for lynx in the state is at risk from a massive real estate development atop Wolf Creek Pass. We look forward to working with state agencies to make the Governor’s vision a reality.”
– Mark Pearson, executive director, San Juan Citizens Alliance
Denver, CO – Today, following a vote by Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commissioners to adopt a statewide Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) standard, organizations and businesses working to save energy, cut carbon and clean the air we breathe, lauded the vote and what a ZEV standard means for the future of Colorado.
The new ZEV standard will reduce harmful tailpipe pollution, protect our health and climate, and save Coloradans money. By requiring auto makers to build and deliver an increasing number of electric (or zero emission) vehicles to Colorado, the standard will increase the availability of new electric vehicle models and help accelerate the clean vehicle market in the state. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment estimated that the rule will prevent more than 3 million tons of climate pollution while saving Coloradans more than a billion dollars through 2030.
Colorado is the first state in a decade, and the 11th state overall, to adopt the ZEV standard. Governor Polis issued an executive order in January directing the Air Quality Control Commission to consider taking this step. Today’s vote concludes the process.
“Increased adoption of electric vehicles is a win for clean air, climate action, and our Colorado way of life,” said Kelly Nordini, executive director of Conservation Colorado. “Today’s vote means Coloradans will have many more choices for electric vehicles and moves Colorado closer to reclaiming our title as a conservation leader for the West and the nation.”
“Colorado is plugging into electric vehicles in a big way,” said Travis Madsen, Transportation Program Director at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. “It’s a smart choice. We will save billions of dollars while cleaning our air and protecting our climate. We look forward to working with automakers — who supported Colorado’s adoption of this standard — to accelerate electric transportation in additional states.”
“Today’s vote to adopt the ZEV program is a big step towards reducing transportation pollution for Coloradans across the state, which is a triple win for our health, our climate, and our wallets. We applaud the AQCC and Governor Polis for making Colorado the first Mountain West state to adopt a ZEV program,” said Emily Gedeon, the Conservation Program Director of the Colorado Sierra Club. “We are closely tracking the automakers’ agreement to make sure that it doesn’t slow down progress on bringing electric vehicles to our smoggy state. Our communities deserve mobility options that don’t pollute the places we live and play in. Automakers must now deliver on their support for clean cars and uphold their promise to support the authority of Colorado and any other state to adopt a ZEV program.”
“Unhealthy air days are all too common and completely unacceptable. By adopting the Zero Emission Vehicle program we are taking big steps to cut air pollution from the tailpipes of vehicles and quicken our transition to a cleaner, electric-powered transportation system.” – Danny Katz, Director at CoPIRG (Colorado Public Interest Research Group).
“As the Trump administration moves to roll back federal clean car standards, Colorado’s adoption of a ZEV standard is an essential step forward.” said Simon Mui, Deputy Director of the Clean Vehicles and Fuels Group at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Colorado and other states must step up to reduce carbon emissions that threaten public health and contribute to climate change. That’s why we’ll continue working at the state level to make clean cars accessible and affordable, in Colorado and beyond.”
“With today’s vote, Colorado joins the growing coalition of states positioned to reap the public health and economic benefits of the rapid transition to a cleaner transportation sector with zero-emitting vehicles. That automakers for the first time expressly support Colorado’s adoption of the ZEV program is further evidence of this transition. Coloradans will see cost savings at the pump, cleaner air, and a safer climate. EDF applauds the move and looks forward to continued progress to ensure Colorado meets its climate goals.” – Alice Henderson, Attorney, Environmental Defense Fund
“Colorado’s economic future will be driven by the clean energy economy with today’s vote, “ said Susan Nedell, Mountain West Advocate for E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs). “Adopting a ZEV standard launches the state into a top destination for new cleantech investment and expansion while saving Coloradans on fuel and maintenance, protecting the state’s vital outdoor recreation and tourism industries, and creating thousands of new jobs across energy storage and clean vehicles.”
Garrett Garner-Wells, Conservation Colorado, 303-605-3483, email@example.com
Travis Madsen, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, 720-937-2609, firstname.lastname@example.org
Emily Gedeon, Sierra Club, email@example.com, 720-308-6055
Nadia Perl, Natural Resources Defense Council, 510-928-1717, firstname.lastname@example.org
Today, Conservation Colorado released its 2019 Conservation Scorecard, an annual look at how every state legislator voted on key environmental bills during the recent legislative session. The scorecard provides Coloradans with the information they need to ensure their elected officials reflect Coloradans’ values, including protections for our air, land, water, and communities.
“Colorado’s 2019 legislative session was historic by any measure,” said Kelly Nordini, executive director of Conservation Colorado. “From climate action and clean energy to oil and gas reforms to protecting our lands, water, and wildlife, this year’s scorecard provides an accounting of who helped and hindered Colorado’s progress.”
Here are top-line results from the Scorecard:
Key votes scored include:
- Colorado’s Climate Action Plan (HB1261)
- Comprehensive Oil and Gas Reform (SB181)
- EV Utility and Tax Credits (HB1159 and SB77)
- Hard-Rock Mining Reform (HB1113)
- Conservation Easement Improvements (HB1264)
- Promoting a Just Transition (HB1314)
- 18 Senators had a perfect score.
- The lowest scores were Senators Chris Holbert, Vicki Marble, and Jim Smallwood at 0 percent each.
- 36 members had a perfect score.
- The lowest scores were Representatives Mark Baisley, Susan Beckman, Perry Buck, Tim Geitner, Stephen Humphrey, Kimmi Lewis, Lori Saine, Shane Sandridge, and Dave Williams at 0 percent each.
Nordini continued: “This year, the Colorado legislature passed commonsense policies that were years in the making. At a time when the stakes could not be higher, Colorado’s new elected leaders produced results that will protect our state for years to come.”
I write as the enthusiastically wide-eyed recent addition to Conservation Colorado. My name is Koki Atcheson and I graduated from Colorado College this May with a BA in Environmental Science: Integrated and a minor in Education. I am so grateful to the Public Interest Fellowship Program and Conservation Colorado for this opportunity to start as a Communications Fellow.
I accepted a position in Colorado, far from my home base in Honolulu, Hawaii, because I recognize the state of Colorado as a national leader in advancing pro-environmental policies, public lands protections, renewable energy, and clean air and water for all people. I draw inspiration from Colorado’s green spaces of all sizes and the energy of city planners and community members working in partnership with nature. I see hope and great potential in the conservation movement, and I am eager to join a team who works relentlessly toward a better future for our environment and our people.
Once I walked through Conservation Colorado’s doors, I did not wait long to experience advocacy work firsthand. Moments after finding my desk, I listened in on a tele-press conference detailing Senator Cory Gardner’s voting history, and the implications of his anti-environmental votes. This was my introduction to what it means to hold elected officials accountable.
Senator Gardner has failed to fulfill his advertised commitments to renewable energy and the environment. Between 2015 and 2018 he voted against the environment 85 percent of the time. This record does not honor the conservationist identity that I share with 69 percent of Coloradans.
Reading Conservation Colorado’s report of Senator Gardner’s voting history, I was most upset to see that he has made surface-level claims of pro-environmental beliefs without stepping up as a leader in climate policy, sponsoring a wilderness bill, or consistently voting to secure the best interests of Colorado’s people and environment. These findings reinforce the necessity of digging deeper than political candidates’ promotional materials, and making this information easily accessible.
In Colorado, pro-conservation elected officials accurately represent the values and needs of residents. Pro-conservation actions promote public health through policies that minimize displacement and pollution, and maximize green spaces for all. In this way they are a vehicle for justice, and can work to counteract centuries of environmental racism.
Senator Gardner has an immense opportunity to represent Coloradan values and leave a positive legacy for the state he serves through working to advance clean energy, fully sponsor conservation bills, and protect the wilderness areas that keep Colorado wild.
If Colorado hopes to remain a proud champion for our environment, all of our elected officials must step up and boldly pursue action that honors our state’s human and natural needs. In my time as a Communications Fellow at Conservation Colorado, I look forward to learning from a wealth of mentors who are doing the political work to sculpt an equitable, environmentally connected future.
SUPPORT OUR WORK
Our community of over 60,000 members are the driving force behind environmental wins from your backyard to the state Capitol.