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The order will remain in effect until May 1, 2023 unless modified or rescinded prior to that date.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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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)

Senate

  • 18 Senators had a perfect score.
  • The lowest scores were Senators Chris Holbert, Vicki Marble, and Jim Smallwood at 0 percent each.

House

  • 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.”

DENVER – Today the Bureau of Land Management announced a plan allowing the gas drilling industry to dominate Colorado’s idyllic North Fork Valley with new oil and gas leasing. The plan failed to adopt a community-supported proposal that was under consideration by the agency to protect the water supply, wildlife and scenery of the North Fork Valley.

Previously, the North Fork Valley community has fought back three previous attempts to lease public lands for drilling close to the towns of Crawford, Hotchkiss and Paonia while the agency worked to complete its land use plan. The final resource management plan for the area will guide management of public lands for decades to come.

The Western Slope Conservation Center issued the following statement from Patrick Dooling, Executive Director:

“We are extremely disappointed that the BLM is moving forward with a plan that so clearly disrespects the wishes of our community and prioritizes drilling over all other uses here. The push to open our public lands for expanded drilling in Colorado’s premier sustainable farming and agri-tourism region is broadly opposed by local farms, businesses, and residents.

“The BLM’s final plan directly neglects the wishes of local governments, numerous organizations and countless citizens and shows that the current administration continues to prioritize the interests of the oil and gas industry over the public. We have fought back irresponsible drilling leases before and we fight back against this attempt to lock in risk of future drilling for years to come.”

The Wilderness Society issued the following statement from Jim Ramey, Colorado State Director:

“Instead of protecting the clean water supply that allows the North Fork Valley to thrive, the BLM is putting the gas drilling industry first.”

“It’s a shame to see Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a native Coloradan, hand out favors to fossil fuel interests at the expense of local farmers, recreation businesses and the public here in his home state.

Not only does the plan sellout the community in the North Fork Valley by ignoring the locally-grown North Fork Alternative Plan, it also guts protections for critical wildlands across Colorado’s western slope. Places like Dry Creek Basin and Roc Creek – public lands that offer backcountry recreation, scenic views and important wildlife habitat – would be stripped of protections under the Trump administration’s proposed changes to the plan.”

Conservation Colorado issued the following statement from Executive Director Kelly Nordini:

“Today is just one more example of President Trump and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt putting the oil and gas industry ahead of local communities. Instead of helping foster the North Fork Valley’s thriving and growing agriculture and outdoor recreation economy, they are placing these sustainable industries in the crosshairs of an industry that threatens the very clean air, water and climate that helps these local businesses.”

“The Trump administration’s so-called ‘energy dominance’ agenda isn’t just a giveaway of public lands to their polluting industry friends, it mortgages Coloradans’ very future by exacerbating climate impacts instead of avoiding them.”

Why is this so important to western Colorado?

Why is this so important to western Colorado? Oil and gas development is incompatible with a healthy future for the spectacular North Fork Valley of western Colorado. The communities of the North Fork Valley are strongly opposed to oil and gas development, largely due to the negligible economic gains and the significant irreparable damage that could occur from oil and gas activities in the watershed.

  • Clean Water: The North Fork Valley is a hub of organic and traditional agriculture and one of only two federally recognized wine regions in Colorado. Protection of the valley’s water supply relies on protecting the North Fork from source-to-use. Pollution must be prevented from entering this critical water system. For farmers and the agricultural economy, water quantity and quality are both of utmost importance. Organic agriculture, specialty crops, and high-quality hay all depend on abundant water free from contamination.

Surface contamination and spills, which occur regularly in Colorado oil and gas fields, could spread rapidly through the irrigation systems that water the valley. Oil and gas development is well-known to contaminate water supplies, both above and below ground, and to harm water bodies, rivers and source areas. That is a risk too great for operators in the valley, home to Colorado’s highest concentration of organic farms, an agritourism haven, and major headwaters to the Colorado River system.

  • Wildlife: Of particular concern are impacts to mule deer, elk, Canada lynx, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, bald eagle and greenback cutthroat trout. Coupled with the impacts of existing energy development, additional leasing and development directly threaten rare mid-elevation habitat and the wildlife which depends upon it. The state currently does not possess adequate data on elk and mule deer populations in the area of the proposed development, and CPW staff have indicated that recent elk population numbers in the area have been in steep decline over the last few years. The local elk and mule deer are essential to the local economy, not to mention the ecology of our landscapes.

At risk in the final plan are some of the same lands the local community joined together to oppose leasing in 2011 and 2012, and again in late 2018. The initial leasing attempts prompted the BLM to consider a locally grown vision for the North Fork Valley that would keep energy development away from sensitive areas. The BLM agreed to consider the North Fork Alternative Plan in the Uncompahgre Resource Management Plan revision, however, the proposed final plan ignores the local community and undermines the citizens’ vision.

The BLM had been deferring leasing in the North Fork Valley while it revised the Uncompahgre RMP and made a long-term plan for managing the many values of this special landscape, but under Trump administration policies the agency is plowing forward with highly controversial, short-sighted leasing proposals. With its drilling above all other uses strategy for public lands, the Administration is deaf to the voices and vision the local community has worked with the BLM on for years. “Energy dominance” for the purpose of enriching fossil fuel industry executives could well result in farmers, winemakers and ranchers losing their livelihoods.

The North Fork Valley is too wild, too beautiful, and too productive to be sacrificed for oil and gas interests. Efforts to move forward with leasing in the North Fork Valley will continue to be met with strong opposition. The valley has produced energy for our country from public lands for over a century from its coal mines. Now is the time to protect remaining wildlands in the area for future generations to enjoy.

Cover image: North Fork Valley, CO. Mason Cummings, The Wilderness Society.

DENVER – Today, Conservation Colorado released a new report called “How Senator Cory Gardner’s Green Bonafides are in the Red” detailing the Senator’s failure to stand up for Colorado’s environment and way of life. From climate change to public lands to administrative nominees, the report assesses Gardner’s votes on the environment, highlights five instances of issues on which he is out of touch with Coloradans, and provides concrete examples of where Gardner’s media narrative does not match his voting record.

Specifically, the report finds that Gardner:

  • Voted against the environment in 85 percent of key votes; and,
  • Voted five times to block limits on carbon pollution, seven times to protect billions in subsidies for fossil fuels, seven times to undermine scientific reviews, and 10 times to make it harder to establish or enforce environmental protections; and,
  • Is out of step with Coloradans’ opinions on a suite of conservation issues.

Senator Gardner’s failure to stand up for our environment has real impacts for Coloradans across the state. Conservation leaders and citizens released the following statements in response:

“Senator Gardner’s voting record is unacceptable. He ran on promises to protect our land, air, water, and communities and he has failed to deliver on nearly all of those promises. Even worse, when faced with climate change — the defining issue of our time — he refused to step up and lead. Senator Gardner is running out of time to reflect Colorado values and should change direction before it’s too late.”
– Jessica Goad, deputy director, Conservation Colorado

“When he was first elected, Senator Gardner promised Coloradans that he would be ‘a new kind of Republican.’ Sadly, the ground he broke was becoming the only Colorado senator of either party since 1964 not to sponsor a single wilderness bill. Coloradans deserve a leader who truly fights for our clean air and water, public lands, and diverse communities.”
– Pete Maysmith, senior vice president of campaigns, League of Conservation Voters

“Adams County is doing our part to fight climate change, but we can’t do it alone. Our federal leaders, including Senator Gardner, should look to Colorado’s example when it comes to protecting our lands, reducing methane pollution, and combating climate change. Coloradans know we don’t have time to waste; Colorado leaders should heed their call.”
– Commissioner Emma Pinter, Adams County

“Politics isn’t a game. Every refusal to stop a reckless drilling plan or address the climate crisis puts the livelihoods and future of Colorado families at risk. Hotter summers, altered growing seasons, and unpredictable snowpack are threats that farmers can’t afford. Please, Senator Gardner: step up and lead.”
– Mark Waltermire, owner, Thistle Whistle Farms in Hotchkiss, CO

DENVER – Today, Colorado advocates for conservation, public health, consumers, and workers applauded Governor Jared Polis for signing into law HB 19-1261, the Climate Action Plan to Reduce Carbon Pollution, and six other bills that put Colorado on a path of bold climate action.

HB 19-1261 establishes science-based greenhouse gas reduction targets, putting Colorado on a path to reduce harmful climate-changing emissions at least 26 percent by 2025, 50 percent by 2030, and 90 percent by 2050, as compared to 2005 levels. The bill requires the state’s Air Quality Control Commission to develop cost-effective regulations to meet the targets and directs the Commission to solicit input from a variety of stakeholders, including workers and communities that are currently economically dependent on industries with high levels of carbon pollution.

“The Climate Action Plan ensures that, once again, Colorado is a national leader in the fight against climate change,” said Kelly Nordini, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado. “Thanks to the bold leadership of our pro-conservation trifecta, we now have economy-wide targets for reducing carbon pollution — targets that are critical for cleaning up our air, protecting our health, and preserving our Colorado way of life.”

“Coloradans have been calling on our elected leaders to take meaningful action on climate change, and this legislation is a critical step,” said Jon Goldin-Dubois, President of Western Resource Advocates. “The greenhouse gas pollution reduction goals included in the Climate Action Plan will lead to cleaner air, improved public health, and a healthier climate for this and future generations. Our window to take action is small and shrinking, and we applaud Colorado lawmakers for their leadership on this critical bill.”

“Coloradans love our public lands, but as the seventh fastest warming state we’re already facing the impacts of a warming climate which threaten our way of life and our $62 billion outdoor recreation economy,” said Jim Ramey, Colorado State Director at The Wilderness Society. “What’s important now is that we work with the Air Quality Control Commission to achieve the goals set by this legislation so that present and future generations can continue to enjoy our public lands, drink clean water and breathe clean air.”

“Frontline communities disproportionately bear the burden of environmental injustice and climate change and need to be at the center of Colorado’s climate solutions,” said Adrienne Dorsey, Executive Director of GRID Alternatives Colorado. “By signing an equitable Climate Action Plan, Governor Polis is making the benefits of clean energy accessible to Colorado’s underserved communities: reduced air pollution, savings on electricity bills, and access to jobs in our state’s growing clean energy economy.”

“Young people are at the forefront of the movements against climate change,” said Charley Olena, Advocacy Director for New Era Colorado. “We have tens of thousands of young voters across this state every year, and in every corner of Colorado, climate change looms large in the minds of these voters. HB 1261 is exactly the kind of bold action on climate that young voters called for when they turned out in droves in 2018. We’re thrilled with the end result and look forward to engaging in the rulemaking process moving forward.”

“Coloradans have been waiting for climate leadership, and the leaders that Coloradans sent to the Capitol delivered on their promises to take action,” said Jim Alexee, Director of the Colorado Sierra Club. “The legislation passed in the 2019 legislative session sets Colorado on a path to reach Governor Polis’ goal of powering our state with 100% renewable energy.  The Colorado Sierra Club supported legislation that moves us forward by supporting energy industry workers, meeting the demands of  electricity customers, and cutting pollution so our kids and grandkids can enjoy Colorado for generations to come.”

“We applaud Governor Polis for signing HB19-1261. A crisis such as climate change requires deliberate, bold action—and Colorado has just shown the country what that looks like,” said Carlos Fernandez, State Director for The Nature Conservancy in Colorado. “House Bill 19-1261 is a major victory for our state and our future.”

“Protect Our Winters commends Governor Polis for working with the legislature to sign strong climate goals into law. This bill is immensely important for the future of snowsports and outdoor recreation in our state, which pumps $28 billion into Colorado’s economy annually and suffers in the face of climate impacts, from a diminishing snowpack to increasing wildfires,” said Lindsay Bourgoine, Director of Policy & Advocacy for Protect Our Winters. “We are proud our governor recognizes these detrimental impacts to our industry and our community and his response is bold climate action.”

“Colorado’s economic future depends on our ability to tackle the issue of climate change. Agriculture, tourism, outdoor recreation, and many other industries are in danger of being irreparably harmed unless we act now,” said Carol Hedges, Executive Director of the Colorado Fiscal Institute. “Thank you to lawmakers and the governor for taking steps to ensure future generations will be able to enjoy the things that make Colorado an awesome place to live, work, and play.”

“Climate change, according to the American Public Health Association, is ‘the greatest threat to public health today,’” said Kate Stigberg, Director, Healthy Air and Water Colorado. “We want to commend Governor Polis for signing House Bill 1261, the Climate Action Plan, today. This is a huge step forward to ensure we can create a healthier future for Coloradans today and for generations to come.”

“Thank you, Governor Polis, for taking leadership on climate,” said Ning Mosberger-Tang of the Indivisible Legislative Table. “Coloradans have already experienced numerous extreme weather events in the past few years. Climate change is happening right now and it’s already affecting all of us. We need to protect our climate and our future while growing the economy and addressing environmental justice issues at the same time. By signing HB-1261 into law, we’re taking a giant step forward.”

“Thank you, Governor Polis, for understanding the connection between the climate crisis and the impact it has on our children’s health and our environment,” said Christine Berg, Colorado Field Consultant for Moms Clean Air Force. “It is imperative that states and local governments step forward with solutions, and Colorado is leading the way. We are grateful for the Governor’s vision and leadership.”

“Transition is never easy. The economic and technological transition necessary to keep climate change within the limits a consensus of scientists tell us is necessary to avoid unimaginable consequences will indeed be challenging,” said Ken Jacobs, Impact Investors and Chair of the Good Business Colorado Sustainable Environment Working Group. “The good news is that Coloradans have the expertise and resources to accomplish the ambitious goals set forth in this bill. Passage of this bill, and subsequent action by the AQCC will unleash a torrent of enterprises and productive business activity in the coming years.  Accordingly, Good Business Colorado strongly supports HB 1261 Climate Action Plan To Reduce Pollution.”

DENVER — Today, the Colorado legislature voted on final passage of HB 19-1261, the Climate Action Plan To Reduce Pollution. Once signed, HB 19-1261 will:

  • Create a framework to tackle climate change by setting science-based goals to reduce carbon pollution, the underlying cause of climate change, of at least 26 percent by 2025, 50 percent by 2030, and 90 percent by 2050 compared to 2005 levels.
  • Direct the experts at the Air Quality Control Commission to create cost-effective regulations for the goals.
  • Ensure ample opportunity for public input on the best ways to meet the pollution limits in order to ensure a fair outcome for Coloradans across the state.

Coloradans are already seeing the negative impacts of climate change every day. It manifests as poor air quality affecting our health, extreme wildfires, disrupted growing seasons for agriculture, shorter ski seasons, and reduced river flows for rafting and fishing are changing how we live our lives and threatening things we love about our state. In fact, 62% of Coloradans – a full 12 points more than the next-highest Western state – say climate change is a serious problem.

 

Colorado groups responded to the bill’s passage from the House with the following statements:

“Make no mistake: this is a big deal. The Climate Action Plan to Reduce Pollution ensures that we are doing our part to reduce carbon pollution and leave a livable, healthy Colorado to our kids and grandkids. Thank you to the members of the House and Senate who stepped up to lead. We urge Governor Polis to act quickly and sign this bill into law.”

— Kelly Nordini, Executive Director, Conservation Colorado

 

“This critical legislation lays the foundation for Colorado to take meaningful action to address climate change. Here in Colorado we see the effects of climate change every day, from more frequent and intense wildfires, to severe flooding to unhealthy air quality and prolonged drought. This legislation puts us on course to cut greenhouse gases and preserve a healthy, livable climate for ourselves and our children.”

— Jon Goldin-Dubois, President, Western Resource Advocates

 

“Climate change is the pivotal challenge of our time. Colorado’s policy makers are meeting this urgent challenge head on with bold leadership to address our state’s dangerous climate pollution, and they’re doing it in a way that’s consistent with science while strengthening our economy.”

— Pam Kiely, Senior Director of Climate Regulatory Strategy, Environmental Defense Fund

 

“We are thrilled to see Colorado take such a big step forward in passing the Climate Action Plan,” said Carlos Fernandez, State Director for The Nature Conservancy in Colorado. “Climate change is an urgent problem that is already causing serious impacts in our state. HB 19-1261 will tackle the problem head-on by setting goals rooted in science to cut carbon pollution from every sector of our economy.”

— Carlos Fernández, State Director, The Nature Conservancy in Colorado

 

“Protect Our Winters commends the Colorado legislature for passing strong climate goals. This bill is immensely important for the future of snowsports and outdoor recreation in our state, which pumps $28 billion into Colorado’s economy annually and suffers in the face of climate impacts, from a diminishing snowpack to increasing wildfires. We are proud our lawmakers recognize these detrimental impacts and their response is bold climate action.”

— Lindsay Bourgoine, Director of Policy & Advocacy, Protect Our Winters

 

“Young people are at the forefront of the movements against climate change. New Era engages tens of thousands of young voters across this state every year, and in every corner of Colorado, climate change looms large in the minds of these voters. In 2018, Colorado’s young people voted in droves, even outnumbering voters over 60. We turned out because we need action, especially when it comes to the issue of averting catastrophic climate change. HB 19-1261 sets  ambitious, yet achievable pollution reduction targets and is exactly the kind of legislation my generation wants and needs.”

— Charley Olena, Advocacy Director, New Era Colorado

 

“Climate change has quickly become a public health crisis and a serious threat to the health of all Coloradans. Specifically the rapidly warming temperatures affect our cardiovascular, respiratory, and nervous systems. Solving such a massive problem like climate change cannot be done overnight, but we can take the necessary steps now to ensure that our children have the opportunity to live healthier lives. We commend our state’s leaders for taking this critical step with the passage of HB 1261 in protecting the health of Coloradans today and for generations to come.”

— Kate Stigberg, Healthy Air and Water Colorado

 

“Putting a limit on carbon will improve our air quality and public health particularly those most vulnerable; Colorado’s children. This bill protects our air, our environment and our health while building on the economic success of the renewable energy sector by driving innovation and creating thousands of jobs that cannot be outsourced. Thank you to our state leadership for putting Colorado’s children first as we fight against the impacts of the climate crisis.”

— Christine Berg, Moms Clean Air Force

 

“We’re proud of Colorado for taking a bold step toward reducing the environmental and economic impacts of carbon production and use in the state. This forward edge legislation acknowledges that there are trade-offs and commits the state to addressing the negative effects of the transition while not compromising on important environmental values. Well done!”

— Carol Hedges, Executive Director, Colorado Fiscal Institute

 

“Coloradans love our public lands, but as the seventh fastest warming state we’re already facing the impacts of a warming climate like increased drought and more severe wildfire seasons. We applaud Colorado’s leaders for tackling this threat head-on so that present and future generations can continue to enjoy our public lands, drink clean water and breathe clean air.”

— Jim Ramey, Colorado State Director, The Wilderness Society

 

“Colorado has an opportunity to advance climate policy that brings the tangible benefits of clean energy to Colorado’s underserved communities: reduced air pollution, savings on electricity bills, and access to jobs in our state’s growing clean energy economy. We applaud the House’s passage of the Climate Action Plan today, especially the bill provisions that put equity, inclusion, and frontline communities at the center of Colorado’s climate solutions.”

— Adrienne Dorsey, Executive Director of GRID Alternatives Colorado

 

“Climate change is happening right now. We have a limited time window to act and prevent the worst disasters from happening. We need to cap our carbon emissions as specified in HB 19-1261 and show that we can protect our future while growing the economy and addressing environmental injustice issues at the same time. Thank you Colorado leaders for taking a giant step forward on the path of innovation, renewal and equity.”

— Indivisible Colorado Legislative Table

DENVER — Today, Governor Jared Polis signed SB 19-181, Protect Public Welfare Oil and Gas Operations. The new law will protect public health and safety when it comes to oil and gas development.

Conservation groups responded to the bill’s passage with the following statements:

“Today marks a new chapter in Colorado’s history. For the first time ever, our state is on track to put the health and safety of workers and residents, and our environment ahead of oil and gas industry profits. This policy is nearly a decade in the making, and we applaud our elected leaders who fought for so long to make it a reality.” — Kelly Nordini, Executive Director, Conservation Colorado

“Coloradans now finally have a voice when it comes to oil and gas development in our state. We thank Governor Polis, Senator Steve Fenberg, Speaker KC Becker and our leaders in the Colorado legislature for listening to the urgent calls from Coloradans who are ready for change. The policy changes in Senate Bill 181 will help to make our communities healthier and safer.” — Jim Alexee, Director, Colorado Sierra Club

“SB 19-181 is a victory for the people of Colorado. By signing this bill, Gov. Jared Polis will expand Colorado’s leadership on methane and curb emissions of this dangerous greenhouse gas, while also helping prevent catastrophic well explosions that threaten our communities. As the Trump administration continues its assault on federal methane protections, it is more important than ever that Colorado respond by boldly cutting methane and fighting climate change.” — Matthew Garrington, State Campaigns Manager, Energy Program, Environmental Defense Fund

“There has never been any Colorado legislation as comprehensive and impactful as SB 19-181. The people beset by the callous onslaught of oil and gas development now have a state government that is prioritizing their interests over the industry’s. This is long overdue and much appreciated.” — Josh Joswick, Issues Analyst/Community Organizer, Oil and Gas Accountability Project

“We thank Governor Polis and the Legislature for modernizing our laws to allow the experts in our state and local governments to make decisions that protect public health and the environment from the dangerous impacts of oil and gas development.” — Joel Minor, Attorney, Earthjustice

“This oil & gas bill signals that Governor Polis and the legislature are putting public health over polluter interests in the state.”  Sam Gilchrist, Western Campaigns Director, NRDC

“Finally, after all these years we have a bill that will protect health and safety in the gas lands. Residents of Garfield County thank Governor Polis for making this long-awaited bill law. However, we must ensure the intent of the law is upheld through the rule-making process.” — Leslie Robinson, Member, Grand Valley Citizens Alliance

“Members of Battlement Concerned Citizens (BCC) and residents of Battlement Mesa are pleased to see the adoption of SB 19-181 and the prioritizing of public health and safety over corporate profits. We appreciate the hard work and determination of the Colorado legislators and Governor Polist that made this possible. We are looking forward to a new era of cooperation with the oil and gas industry to develop our valuable natural resources in a way that prioritizes public health and safety.” — Dave Devanney, Member, Battlement Concerned Citizens

 

Industry groups spent heavily on misleading advertising against SB 19-181. Analysis conducted by Westword’s Chase Woodruff as the bill moved from the Senate to the House showed that “the fossil-fuel industry [outspent] proponents of SB 181 by more than a 15-to-1 margin.” That spending included included TV advertising that was labeled “misleading” by the Colorado Sun and, at various points, “full of overstatements” and not “not accurate at all” by 9 News’ Kyle Clark.

SB 19-181 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;
  • Direct air quality experts to consider rules to greatly reduce harmful emissions including methane, a dense greenhouse gas;
  • Better protects property owners from forced pooling;
  • Combat the growing problem of orphaned wells by setting forth a rule making around financial assurances and bonding requirements for oil and gas permits; and,
  • Create a professional, paid commission that can better address the litany of permits, rulemaking and oversight the commission must handle.

Today, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm David Bernhardt as Secretary of the Interior. Bernhardt will replace former Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who resigned in disgrace last December under a cloud of ethics violations.

Kelly Nordini, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado, released the following statement in response:

“Being a Colorado native does not give David Bernhardt special qualifications for running the Department of the Interior, and shame on Senator Gardner for letting the fox guard the henhouse simply because he’s from the same neighborhood. Senator Cory Gardner made a huge mistake with his vote today, given Bernhardt’s troubling record and spiraling conflicts of interest. Westerners love their public lands and the environment and Bernhardt cannot be entrusted to protect them on our behalf.

“Senator Gardner likes to talk about protecting public lands for future generations, but today’s vote to confirm a former oil lobbyist puts the public lands we love at risk. This is yet another instance of Senator Gardner telling Coloradans one thing and then doing the opposite.”