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.”

DENVER — Today, the Colorado legislature voted on final passage of SB 19-181, Protect Public Welfare Oil and Gas Operations. It now heads to Governor Jared Polis, who is expected to sign the measure.

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

“Coloradans can breathe easier today knowing that our state is finally on track to put the health and safety of workers and residents, and our environment ahead of oil and gas industry profits. Thank you to our leaders who heeded voters’ clear message and delivered these overdue reforms.”

— Kelly Nordini, Executive Director, Conservation Colorado

“Rural Western Coloradans throughout our region applaud the passage of SB 181 and a critical step forward to protect our people and our environment while letting the industry continue to do business in our state. We thank the legislators who worked so hard to ensure communities living with oil and gas development have more a voice on decisions that directly affect their health and well-being.”

— Emily Hornback, Director, Western Colorado Alliance for Community Action

“SB181 is an important foundational step for impacted Coloradans. It is time that communities have a voice when it comes to massive industrial projects being forced into their neighborhoods and near their schools. Thank you to our legislators who stood up for Colorado’s impacted communities today.”

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

“These are the protections Coloradans are clamoring for. They’re vital for our health and safety and are needed nationwide. Governor Polis should sign this bill as soon as it hits his desk.”

— Sam Gilchrist, Western Campaigns Director, Natural Resources Defense Council

“Grand Valley Citizens Alliance members past and present have been working on health and safety issues in Garfield County’s gas patch for over 20 years. We want to thank both House and Senate legislators who made our vision reality – that people will finally have an equal voice about oil and gas development in their neighborhoods.”

— Leslie Robinson, Chair, Grand Valley Citizens Alliance

“Coloradans will finally have a voice when it comes to oil and gas development in our state. We thank our elected officials 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

 

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.

Once signed, 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 and create a commission with paid, full time experts;
  • 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;
  • Greatly reduce harmful air pollution including methane, a potent greenhouse gas;
  • Better protects property owners from forced pooling; and,
  • Combat the growing problem of orphaned wells by setting forth a rule making around financial assurances and bonding requirements for oil and gas permits.

DENVER— Today, SB 19-181, Protect Public Welfare Oil and Gas Operations, passed the Colorado State Senate on a 19-15 vote.

The bill will:

  • Refocus the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to prioritize health safety and the environment over industry profits;
  • Empower local governments to have a stronger say by clarifying basic powers such as zoning and noise limitations and allowing local oversight and enforcement of operations;
  • Addresses the growing climate, air, water, and wildlife impacts of oil and gas development across the state including increasing regulations for methane, a dangerous air pollutant that is a significant contributor to climate change;
  • Better protect property owners from forced pooling; and,
  • Combat the growing problem of orphaned wells by setting forth a rule making around financial assurances and bonding requirements for oil and gas permits.

 

Conservation and community groups responded to the bill’s Senate passage with the following statements.

“Thank you to the Colorado State Senate for acting decisively to prioritize Colorado’s air, water, and residents over oil and gas industry profits. This bill is nearly a decade in the making. We urge the House to act swiftly, pass these common-sense reforms, and send them to Governor Polis to sign so we can put Coloradans’ health and safety first.”

— Kelly Nordini, Executive Director, Conservation Colorado

 

“This is a transformational step forward for a common sense, balanced approach to fracking in Colorado. We applaud leaders in the state Senate, and local officials across Colorado, for their bravery in the face of corporate special interests.”

— Jim Alexee, Director, Colorado Sierra Club

 

“We are thankful to the state Senate for their leadership and for taking the time to bill thoughtful legislation that truly puts the health and safety of Colorado communities first. It is past time that we make health and safety the priority of the state when if comes to Big Oil and neighborhood drilling.”

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

 

“The state Senate is showing real national leadership, showing other states how to protect communities from the public health and safety impacts of oil and gas extraction. The House should follow suit quickly.”

—  Sam Gilchrist, Western Campaigns Director, NRDC

 

“Western Coloradans cheer the passage of SB 181 out of the state Senate as a long overdue step to protect the public health and safety of residents living with the impacts of oil and gas.”

—  Emily Hornback, Director, Western Colorado Alliance

For Immediate Release: Thursday, February 28, 2019

Contact:

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

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

The bill will:

  • Refocus the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to prioritize health safety and the environment over industry profits;
  • Empower local governments to have a stronger say by clarifying basic powers such as zoning and noise limitations and allowing local oversight and enforcement of operations;
  • Better protect property owners from forced pooling; and,
  • Combat the growing problem of orphaned wells by setting forth a rulemaking around financial assurances and bonding requirements for oil and gas permits.

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

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

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

  • Kelly Nordini, Executive Director, Conservation Colorado

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

  • Jim Alexee, Director, Colorado Sierra Club

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

  • Dave Devanney, member, Western Colorado Alliance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Kelly Nordini, Executive Director, Conservation Colorado

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

  • Jim Ramey, Colorado State Director, The Wilderness Society

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

  • Will Roush, Executive Director, Wilderness Workshop

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

  • Julie Mach, Conservation Director, Colorado Mountain Club

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

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

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

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

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

  • Lexi Tuddenham, Executive Director, Sheep Mountain Alliance

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

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

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