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.”

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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

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Denver, COToday, 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.”

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Contacts:

Garrett Garner-Wells, Conservation Colorado, 303-605-3483, garrett@conservationco.org 

Travis Madsen, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, 720-937-2609, tmadsen@swenergy.org

Emily Gedeon, Sierra Club, emily.gedeon@sierraclub.org, 720-308-6055

Nadia Perl, Natural Resources Defense Council, 510-928-1717, nperl@nrdc.org

GRAND JUNCTION, COLORADO — Today, the Department of the Interior officially announced that it plans to relocate the Bureau of Land Management headquarters to Grand Junction.

In response, Erin Riccio, Western Slope field organizer with Conservation Colorado, released the following statement:

“It’s no surprise the Bureau of Land Management wants to relocate to Grand Junction. With a fantastic quality of life supported by our stunning public lands, the location is a no-brainer.

“We’re among the many residents in Grand Junction who are excited about this news that will benefit the local economy and bring employees closer to some of the lands they manage. However, moving the BLM headquarters to Grand Junction won’t actually protect our treasured landscapes as long as the Trump administration’s ‘energy dominance’ agenda is in place. At every opportunity, this administration and its supporters have gutted public input processes and dodged transparency requirements, even going so far as to allow drilling permits during January’s government shutdown.

“It is also worth noting that Senator Cory Gardner, who took credit for this move, continues to serve as a cheerleader for President Trump’s anti-conservation agenda. He voted time and time again to cut West Slope residents and Coloradans out of land management decisions, open treasured landscapes to drilling, and remains the only Colorado Senator to never sponsor a Colorado wilderness bill.

“We’re excited that the BLM is coming to Grand Junction. But regardless of where the BLM calls home, Coloradans want a fair public process with a more comprehensive lands management focus than the ‘energy dominance’ agenda of the Trump administration and Senator Gardner.”

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As the 2017 legislative session kicks off today, Conservation Colorado, a 22,000-member-strong environmental organization, outlined its key priorities for the session.

Contact: Jessica Goad, 720-206-4235

In response to the news that President Donald Trump is intending to sign executive orders to build a border wall with Mexico, ban some refugees to the U.S., and punish “sanctuary cities” like Denver, Conservation Colorado Executive Director Pete Maysmith released the following statement:

As an organization that does significant organizing with Latino and immigrant communities, we see firsthand how these sorts of extreme policies would impact people across the board and hurt our neighbors, friends, and colleagues. We are appalled by these announcements, which are immoral and contrary to our American values.

These policies will also have major impacts on the environment, including the border wall’s destruction of one of the most unique habitats and important wildlife corridors in the American Southwest.

Our America is better than this, and Conservation Colorado pledges to stand with all people of Colorado as we fight for a better environment and future for our families. We call on the president to reconsider these policies that will hurt so many among us, and call on Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet to stand up for Colorado families rather than ideological and hateful rhetoric that hurts and degrades our communities.

Conservation Colorado this morning announced a campaign to bring the Outdoor Retailer show to Denver after the show’s contract with Salt Lake City expires in the summer of 2018.

Senate President Kevin Grantham and House Speaker Crisanta Duran this evening announced H.B. 1242, a bill to fund transportation in Colorado. Pete Maysmith, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado, stated:

We are pleased to see Speaker Duran and President Grantham working together to develop legislation to address our long-standing transportation needs. While we’re still analyzing the details of the bill, we are encouraged by the significant amount of dedicated funding to multimodal transportation as well as provisions giving local governments the freedom and choice to spend money on these options.

As the second-fastest growing state in the nation, we must invest in modern transportation options, especially those that are designed to move people, not just cars. Coloradans across the state deserve a transportation system that reflects the future.

More information about multimodal options:

  • Dozens of local officials, from both sides of the aisle and from rural and urban communities, sent a letter to leadership last week urging “significant dedicated funding for multimodal transportation options.”
  • Multimodal options are critical to generating the public support needed to pass a measure should it come before voters. Recent polling from the Colorado Contractors Association found that more than 70 percent of voters say they are more likely to support a measure when told that it includes funding dedicated to multimodal options.
  • Multimodal options are severely underfunded (a recent study found Colorado is ranked 29th among states in per capita funding for transit, investing just one-twentieth of the national average).

The Colorado House Education Committee is taking testimony this afternoon on HB 1306, a bill that would provide funds for Colorado schools to voluntarily test for lead in their drinking water.

Contact: 

Jessica Goad, Conservation Colorado, 720-206-4235
Kaili Lambe, People’s Climate of Colorado, 719-445-8332

Despite snow and cold, thousands of Coloradans who believe that climate change is real and that our elected officials must take immediate action to address it turned out to the People’s Climate March on Denver this morning.

Led by indigenous leaders and youth activists, the march highlighted the voices of communities most directly affected by climate change. The march was a collaborative effort of environmental, social, racial, and economic justice groups.

Credit: Philip Wegener Photo and Video

Marchers returning from the mile-long circuit formed into the shape of a thermometer with a line at 2 ℃, which represents the amount of average global temperature rise that the planet can tolerate before the most dangerous and destructive effects occur.

Speakers and performers after the march included Colorado State Representative Joe Salazar, spoken word artists, a representative of the labor community, a Naval Officer and national security expert, members of the American Indian Movement of Colorado, several youth leaders, and representatives from the groups in the steering committee.

“The science of climate change is irrefutable, as are the potential consequences of inaction,” said Leia Guccione, Veteran of Operation Free. “No single threat poses a greater or more enduring danger to both the safety of our men and women in uniform and our nation as a whole. Climate change makes our battles harder, demands for humanitarian relief more urgent, and our resilience at home weaker–we must take action now.”

“Service Employees International Union Local 105 members are joining thousands of working people taking to the streets for the People’s Climate March to build unity, fight for a clean economy, and to protect the environment for future generations,” said Tikdem Atsbaha, a janitor at Denver International Airport and mother of two. “Greedy corporations are continuously putting profits over people and the environment, as a union member and working mom, I can’t stand by and let them threaten the very air we breathe and water we drink.”

“This is about our future, said Tay Anderson, the Student Body President of Manual High School.” That’s why it’s so important that young people get engaged, get active, and vote.”

Cover image: Christian O’Rourke, O’Rouke Photography