Conservation Colorado and Western Resource Advocates released the following statements today, praising the Colorado House of Representatives for passing HB18-1069 on a vote of 47 to 14. The bill expands the use of reclaimed water for toilet flushing; it will now move to the Senate for further debate.

“Colorado faces a future where our demand for water will outgrow our supply. That’s why we need to implement innovative policies like this bill, which will stretch our current water resources,” said Kristin Green, Water Advocate, Conservation Colorado. “The future of Colorado’s communities, environment, and economy depends on healthy rivers. This forward-thinking solution is one way to help provide all Coloradans with the water they need while also preserving our precious waterways.”

“Water is the lifeblood of our region, and we need to implement proven solutions that safely and cost-effectively reuse existing water resources. A growing number of states, including, Florida, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, have already successfully supplemented their water supplies with recycled water,” said Laura Belanger, Water Resources and Environmental Engineer, Western Resource Advocates. “Water reuse, in concert with other water-smart tools and strategies, can help us provide for our communities while also protecting our beloved rivers and lakes.”

This legislation is related to three other bills moving through the Colorado legislature to allow reclaimed water to be used for edible crops and community gardens, marijuana cultivation, and industrial hemp use. HB18-1069 now moves on to the Colorado Senate for consideration.

DENVER – The League of Conservation Voters, Conservation Colorado’s national partner, today released the Colorado delegation’s scores on the 2017 National Environmental Scorecard.

Notably, Senator Cory Gardner received a zero percent score.

“We knew Senator Cory Gardner was bad on environmental and public health issues, but looking at his entire voting record from 2017, we now know he couldn’t be any worse. We deserve lawmakers who represent the needs of their constituents, not President Trump’s extreme anti-environmental agenda and his attacks on Colorado’s air, water, land, and wildlife,” said Maria Handley, Acting Executive Director of Conservation Colorado. “We need our representatives in Congress to fight for Colorado values. Thankfully we can count on champions like Senator Bennet and our pro-conservation representatives to push back.”

The 2017 League of Conservation Voters (LCVScorecard measures votes cast during the first session of the 115th Congress. The delegation from Colorado earned the following scores for 2017:

Senator Bennet – 84 percent
Senator Gardner – 0 percent
Representative Degette – 89 percent
Representative Polis – 100 percent
Representative Tipton – 6 percent
Representative Buck – 6 percent
Representative Lamborn – 0 percent
Representative Coffman – 6 percent
Representative Perlmutter – 100 percent

“This Congress repeatedly refused to stand up to President Trump’s extreme anti-environmental agenda and his attacks on our air, water, land, and wildlife,” said LCV Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld. “In a year where devastating hurricanes and wildfires showed why the need to fight climate change is so urgent, Congress instead inflicted lasting damage on our communities by reversing clean water protections, confirming industry favorites to key environmental posts, and opening up the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. Our environmental champions are more important than ever as the administration’s hostility toward our communities continues to grow.”

The 2017 Scorecard includes 35 House votes and 19 Senate votes, including 8 Senate votes to confirm anti-environmental Cabinet and sub-Cabinet nominees who have wasted no time implementing Trump’s dangerous agenda.

LCV has published a National Environmental Scorecard every Congress since 1970. The Scorecard represents the consensus of experts from about 20 respected environmental and conservation organizations who selected the key votes on which members of Congress were scored. The votes included in the Scorecard presented members of Congress with a real choice and help distinguish which legislators are working for environmental protection. More information on individual votes and the Scorecard archive can be found at scorecard.lcv.org.

Contact:

Jace Woodrum, 720-412-3772
Alyssa Roberts, 202-454-4573

Conservation Colorado’s executive director of eight years, Pete Maysmith, will be leaving his position at the end of September to join the national League of Conservation Voters as Senior Vice President for Campaigns.

“We are so proud of Pete and the wisdom, tenacity, and endless energy he has brought to Conservation Colorado,” said Diane Carman, chair of the board. “The fact that our national partner has recruited him speaks volumes about the power and success of this organization. Conservation Colorado is strong, healthy, and will work harder than ever to pass visionary environmental policies and elect pro-conservation candidates in 2018. We wish Pete the best and look forward to working with him in his new role.”

“In the new reality that is the Trump administration, now more than ever we need to build our organizing and political power to ensure that our elected officials represent our values,” said Maysmith. “I’m thrilled to take on the challenge of building the conservation movement nationally and in other states, and together we will fight the forces that seek to pollute our air and water and undermine our right to a healthy environment. I am certain that the organization is in good hands, and I will be cheering them over the coming months and years.”

Carrie Curtiss, Conservation Colorado’s deputy director who has been with the organization for 11 years, has agreed to serve as acting executive director until she makes a long-planned career transition at the end of the year. In the meantime, Conservation Colorado will undertake a national search for a new executive director.

Maysmith and Curtiss guided the organization through the 2013 merger of Colorado Conservation Voters and the Colorado Environmental Coalition that led to the creation of Conservation Colorado. Since the merger, the organization has significantly increased its budget and staff capacity, with a deep focus on electoral capacity and Latino organizing and outreach.

During their tenure, and in partnership with key allies across Colorado, Maysmith and Curtiss oversaw myriad programmatic successes, including:

  • The implementation of “Clean Air Clean Jobs,” which resulted in the retirement of 900 megawatts of coal-fired power
  • The increase of Colorado’s renewable electricity standard to 30 percent by 2020
  • The doubling of the rural renewable electricity standard to 20 percent by 2020
  • The passage of the strongest state methane pollution rules in the nation
  • The release of the first-ever state water plan that emphasizes conservation
  • The creation of the first state holiday celebrating public lands
  • The protection of tens of thousands of acres of public lands, including the Hermosa Creek Wilderness and the Browns Canyon National Monument
  • The decision to have Colorado join the U.S. Climate Alliance in the face of the Trump administration leaving the Paris Climate Agreement

Conservation Colorado is the largest state-based environmental organization in the country with nearly 40 staff in Denver and three field offices as well as 36,000 members across the state. The organization spent $1.3 million in the 2016 elections and had a 90 percent win rate of its endorsed candidates.

Contact: Jessica Goad, 720-206-4235
Eight Major Rivers Across the State Given Grades for Their Health and Well-being

Conservation Colorado today unveiled its first-ever “rivers report card,” an assessment of the health and well-being of eight rivers across the state based on several factors including water quality and flows. Only one river received an “A” grade, while four received grades of “C” or worse.

“Colorado’s rivers sustain our communities, economy, environment, and way of life,” said Kristin Green, Water Advocate at Conservation Colorado. “They provide us with clean drinking water, irrigate Colorado crops, support wildlife habitat, and provide world-class recreation opportunities. In order to protect our rivers, we must first have a clear understanding of what threatens them. This report is a call to action for anyone who cares about our rivers to get involved and fight to ensure they are clean, healthy, and flowing.”

The grades for the rivers analyzed in the report are:

  • Arkansas River: C
  • Colorado River: D
  • Dolores River: D-
  • North Fork of the Gunnison River: B-
  • North Platte River: B+
  • Rio Grande River: B
  • South Platte River: C
  • Yampa River: A

Grades for each river were assessed by analyzing their flows, the amount of water diverted out of the basin, water quality, and the existence of major dams. 

Colorado’s rivers are threatened by climate change, overuse, poor dam management, energy development, and the needs of a population that is set to double by 2050. The report provides several ideas to protect our rivers, including conserving water, voluntarily sharing water rights, avoiding large new water diversions, building water-smart landscapes, and implementing Colorado’s Water Plan. 

Contact: Jessica Goad, 720-206-4235

As the 2017 Colorado state legislative session comes to a close, Conservation Colorado celebrated seven victories but also lamented several important bills that were killed or left on the cutting room floor by the state Senate.

Pete Maysmith, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado, put it this way:
This year’s legislative session had several great, bipartisan wins for conservation issues. Conservation champions and legislators on both sides of the aisle stood up for our air, land, water, and communities, and we’re proud of the passage of meaningful and innovative bills to protect our environment.

 

But throughout the session, a group of obstructionist right-wing Republican senators repeatedly blocked progress by voting ideologically rather than for the needs of everyday Coloradans. Their opposition to simple, commonsense fixes to problems facing Colorado — such as giving citizens the opportunity to vote on a long-term sustainable funding to solve our transportation problems — should serve as a reminder about why voting matters.

Key victories that Conservation Colorado achieved were:

  • Extended a successful energy efficiency program (HB 1227)
  • Helped schools test for lead in their water (HB 1306)
  • Outlawed “rolling coal” (SB 278)
  • Defended tax credits for electric vehicles (SB 188)
  • Supported energy assistance to low-income households (HB 1116)
  • Secured funding for healthy rivers (HB 1248)
  • Prevented bills that would seize or sell off our public lands from being introduced

Despite the wins, several other environmental priorities were killed or stalled this session thanks to ideological opposition. These bills included:

  • Funding for the Colorado Energy Office and important clean energy programs, which Republicans held hostage in order to try to provide a windfall for natural gas companies (SB 301)
  • Improvements to transportation infrastructure and multimodal options (HB 1242)
  • Funding for our state parks (HB 1321)
  • Opening up new opportunities for investment in electric vehicle infrastructure (HB 1232)
  • Three measures to keep our communities safe from oil and gas drilling in neighborhoods:
    • Better protecting children from oil and gas wells located near schools (HB 1256)
    • Providing notice and transparency to property and mineral rights owners in the gas patch (HB 1372)
    • Securing mapping of and information about oil and gas lines, a critical necessity in the wake of the Firestone tragedy (HB 1336)

Conservation Colorado will be releasing its annual conservation scorecard with scores for legislators based on their environmental votes during the 2017 legislative session early this summer.

Contact: Jessica Goad 720-206-4235

This evening the Colorado state Senate Finance Committee voted down HB-1242, a bipartisan transportation funding bill. In response, Pete Maysmith, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado, stated:

It is extremely disappointing that just three Senate Republicans stood against the very tenants of TABOR and refused to let the people of Colorado vote on whether to tax themselves to improve our crumbling transportation system.

Coloradans from across the state weighed in and said they wanted a way to fix our roads and bridges, build safer sidewalks and routes to schools, and  invest in infrastructure to move people, not just cars.

We are committed to working with Senate and House leadership to continue to find solutions that allow Colorado to be prepared for future growth and changes. We thank Senator Grantham and Representative Duran for their tremendous efforts.

Contact: Jessica Goad, 720-206-4235

The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting this morning that President Trump is expected to sign an Executive Order on Wednesday that would require a “review” of national parks and monuments that have been protected by presidents using executive action under the Antiquities Act since 1996. This review could result in parks and monuments being shrunk or completely losing protections.

In Colorado, this means that three national monuments are in the crosshairs: Browns Canyon near Salida (designated in 2015), Chimney Rock near Pagosa Springs (designated in 2012), and Canyons of the Ancients near Cortez (designated in 2000).

Scott Braden, Wilderness and Public Lands Advocate at Conservation Colorado, made the following statement:

With this review, the Trump administration has launched an attack on Colorado’s heritage and the iconic public lands that are critical to our economy and way of life. The fact that federal bureaucrats are attempting to overturn protections for our lands is deeply offensive to those of us who live in the Colorado and the West.

More details:
– No president has ever attempted to revoke a national monument and legal scholars believe it is illegal.
– Coloradans are strongly supportive of presidents’ abilities to create new national parks and monuments. One poll found that 82 percent of Coloradans believe protections for parks and monuments should be kept in place rather than revoked.
– Regions surrounding national monuments have seen continued growth in employment, personal income, and increased per capita income.
Scott Braden is available for TV, radio, and print interviews today and throughout the week.