The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) today passed a rule that will require new oil and gas development to be set back 1,000 feet from all outdoor and modular school facilities, rather than just from school buildings. This rule closes a loophole that formerly allowed oil and gas activity to occur near school playgrounds and sports fields, as long as it was 1,000 feet from the school building.

“Closing this loophole is a much-needed change, and we’re glad to see increased protections for the health and safety of children across Colorado from dirty and industrial fossil fuel development,” said Sophia Mayott-Guerrero, Energy and Transportation Advocate at Conservation Colorado. “But, it is important to note that this is just one small step forward; we look forward to working with Governor-elect Polis and the legislature to ensure that health and safety of all Coloradans is prioritized when it comes to oil and gas development.”

“It is past time the COGCC consider the health and safety of kids. Implementing a 1,000-foot setback from all school use areas and child care centers where kids learn and play is the least the COGCC can do,” said Sara Loflin, Executive Director of LOGIC, “It is ridiculous that we have had to fight to get oil and gas sites further away from kids and the places where they learn and play.”

“Finally, after three years of effort, the COGCC is responding to the concerns of impacted schools, parents and residents,” said Leslie Robinson, chairwoman of the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance and Garfield County resident. “We should not put children at risk for a privately owned company’s bottom line. Everyone is a champion when we protect children’s health and safety and we hope that this rule is the beginning of more significant changes in Colorado’s oil and gas industry.”

Applying the setback to outside areas where students and teachers learn, recreate, and work took more than two years to occur, as the state legislature killed multiple bills that would have implemented this important change. As Colorado’s political climate shifts, this rulemaking adds momentum to advancing policies that put the public’s health, safety, and welfare first while holding the oil and gas industry accountable.

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Today, three conservation organizations — Conservation Colorado, Western Resource Advocates, and Environmental Defense Fund — praised Xcel Energy’s announcement that the Minnesota-based corporation and Colorado’s largest utility had committed to going 100 percent carbon-free by 2050 company-wide. It is the most ambitious commitment to climate action of any power company in the country and their commitment will help Colorado play a leadership role nationally on both climate and clean energy.

“Colorado has yet again established itself as the national leader on clean energy, which is great for our economy, our air and future generations,” said Kelly Nordini, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado. “By pledging to cut its carbon pollution and transitioning away from fossil fuels, Xcel is leading the way to the future with Colorado as  a national model in fighting climate change. With governor-elect Jared Polis also committing to a bold vision and leadership on climate and clean energy policy, our future is only getting brighter.”

“Utilities have a critical role to play in reducing overall carbon emissions. Xcel Energy should be commended for its leadership in setting ambitious, achievable goals,” said Western Resource Advocates President Jon Goldin-Dubois. “Our experience working with Xcel Energy in Colorado for over a decade – to expand renewable energy and reduce carbon emissions – has proven that a healthy economy and protection of our environment can go hand in hand. As Xcel Energy takes action to meet these goals, it will expand opportunities, and dramatically re-shape the energy and carbon landscape across its service area.”

“The grim description of public health impacts in the recently-released National Climate Assessment have provided yet more evidence of the urgency of mitigating climate change. Simply put, we must eliminate carbon pollution, and Xcel Energy is the first power company in the country to commit to doing just that,” said Pam Kiely, Sr. Director of Regulatory Strategy for Environmental Defense Fund. “Xcel has outlined targets that are actually commensurate with the ambition needed from the power sector for us to achieve economy-wide goals, and we look forward to working with Xcel to demonstrate how a decarbonized power sector can catalyze a carbon-free economy.”

Xcel is the largest electricity provider in Colorado. In August, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission approved Xcel’s Colorado Energy Plan, which was supported by WRA, Conservation Colorado, EDF and a diverse coalition that included business, labor, and other leaders. Under the plan, Xcel will retire two aging coal-fired power plants and replace the energy with wind, solar, and the nation’s largest battery-storage project—many of those investments being driven directly into Pueblo County, where the coal plants will be retired. It will dramatically cut carbon pollution, create  hundreds of jobs, and will lead to the investment of over $2 billion in Colorado’s rural economy.

DENVER — Today, Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) voted unanimously to adopt the Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) Program standards for cars and trucks. Vehicle emissions are among  the largest contributors to carbon pollution in Colorado and contribute to the smog and air toxins that threaten public health. The new LEV standards will reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from cars that threaten our health and economy, help Coloradans breathe easier, and help families save money at the pump.

Ahead of today’s vote, more than 7,600 Coloradans called on the AQCC to adopt state emission standards for gas-powered vehicles. Colorado now joins thirteen states and the District of Columbia in adopting the LEV standards.

In 2012, the federal government adopted a national standard that mirrors the LEV Program, with the support of car manufacturers and federal regulators. The Trump Administration, however, is working to roll back those standards.

In response to extensive support at public meetings, the AQCC has also started a stakeholder process to consider adoption of a Zero Emission Vehicle Program. The ZEV Program would set benchmarks for car manufacturers to introduce more electric vehicles into the Colorado market, resulting in even greater emissions reductions from the transportation sector.

Organizations supporting the LEV standards have released the following statements:

Emily Gedeon, Colorado Sierra Club’s Conservation Program Director:

“In the face of rollbacks to clean car standards by the Trump Administration, Coloradans spoke out for cleaner air, and the AQCC listened. Not only will the new standards protect us from excessive, toxic car and truck pollution, but they will save Coloradans money because their new cars and trucks will travel further with each gallon of gas. We look forward to continuing to engage Coloradans to speak out to the AQCC to get cleaner cars on the road in Colorado.”

Garrett Garner-Wells, Director of Environment Colorado:

“Throughout this process, Coloradans sent a clear message: the cars we drive shouldn’t hurt the people and places we love. We applaud the AQCC for listening to the thousands of voices from throughout our state who want cleaner air and climate action by voting to implement low emission vehicle standards.”

Danny Katz, CoPIRG Foundation Director:

“We shouldn’t have to choose between getting to where we need to go and polluting our air. Adopting a statewide emissions standard is the right decision because it will reduce tailpipe pollution. It also saves us at the pump as car companies take advantage of rapidly advancing fuel efficiency technology and produce cars that go further on a gallon of gas.”

Sophia Mayott-Guerrero, Conservation Colorado Energy and Transportation Advocate:

“Transportation is the biggest contributor to climate change in the U.S. With so many people moving to Colorado, we have more and more cars on the road, giving us dirtier air and accelerating climate change. Colorado took an important step to clean up tailpipe emissions, and now we need to get more electric vehicles on the road.”

Noah Long, Senior Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“While the Trump administration is undermining public health, Colorado is stepping in to protect it by ensuring our cars are the cleanest in the nation. This will mean lower spending at the pump for drivers and cleaner air for our families and our future. The next step is just as important: The state must also move to spur sales of more electric vehicles.”

Michelle Robinson, Director of the Clean Vehicles Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists:

“Colorado’s decision is the right choice for drivers, for the climate, and for the future of transportation. By adopting this clean car program, Colorado will ensure that drivers will save hundreds of millions of dollars at the pump in the years to come, money that will be re-invested in the local economy. This decision will also cut oil use in Colorado, reducing the pollution that causes climate change.   At a time when the federal government is rushing to dismantle clean car standards, in defiance of science and common sense, state leadership is more important than ever. With the addition of Colorado, a growing coalition of clean car states will continue to spur innovation in the auto industry and move us toward a cleaner future.”

Fred Krupp, President of Environmental Defense Fund:

“Clean cars for Coloradans is a mile high home run that means healthier air, a safer climate and cost savings. The new state clean car [ vehicle emission ] standards will protect Coloradans’ health and the state’s natural beauty, and will save people’s hard-earned money. The Trump administration has been undermining our most important health and environmental protections, but states like Colorado are stepping up with win-win solutions that will benefit everyone.”

Other organizations and public agencies to publicly support the increased LEV standards include Environmental Entrepreneurs, Ceres, Colorado Moms Know Best, the City of Aspen, the City of Fort Collins, the City of Longmont, Boulder County Public Health, the City and County of Denver, Eagle County Public Health, Jefferson County Public Health, Pueblo County, and the City of Lakewood Sustainability Division.

Conservation Colorado released the following statement from Executive Director Kelly Nordini on the election of Jared Polis as governor:

Jared Polis said that we can protect the Colorado we love, and he set a bold path to a clean energy future. Colorado voters value our air, land, water, and people so it’s no surprise that they said “yes” to a leader who reflects these values.

Tonight’s elections show yet again that there is tremendous enthusiasm for environmental issues in Colorado. Now more than ever, states must lead the way when it comes to addressing the challenges ahead, and Governor-elect Polis will be at the forefront. Coloradans expect bold leadership from their governor, and we are thrilled to partner with him on his agenda.

At an unprecedented level, Coloradans were energized and engaged on environmental issues in this election because they clearly see the threat coming out of the Trump administration and want Colorado to be a national leader. That’s why in the 2018 election cycle, Conservation Colorado and its political committees spent more money, knocked on more doors, and engaged more voters than ever before. Our activities included:

  • Endorsing 55 candidates.
  • Spending $4.6 million on direct contributions to candidates, expansive digital ad programs, direct mail, canvasses, and TV and radio ads.
  • Knocking on 561,375 doors in targeted areas across the state and making 2,735 calls.
  • Sending more than 150,000 texts, including 110,000 texts to Latino voters.
  • Mobilizing more than 300 members and volunteers to knock doors, make phone calls, and take action to support pro-conservation candidates.
  • Contributing $1.3 million in opposition to Amendment 74.

Conservation Colorado Executive Director Kelly Nordini has released the following statement on the failure of Proposition 112:

Let’s be clear: the oil and gas industry spent at least $30 million to beat this measure by fear-mongering about jobs. No one in this state would be foolish enough to say that tonight’s result mean that voters want an oil and gas rig closer to their homes, schools, or hospitals.

The fact remains: the oil and gas problem in this state has not been solved. Local communities still have too little say in where dangerous facilities are sited; the industry benefits from loopholes to laws meant to protect our environment; our state’s severance tax is the lowest effective severance tax in the nation; and spills, fires, explosions, and pollution remain all too commonplace.

In recent years, the oil and gas industry has stood in the way of basic, common-sense protections like keeping drilling away from our schools or tracking where pipelines exist so we don’t experience another Firestone tragedy. We need our leaders to take action in 2019 to ensure that Colorado has the strongest protections in the west.

Conservation Colorado Executive Director Kelly Nordini released the following statement on the failure of Amendment 74:

Tonight was a victory by a diverse, bipartisan coalition against an oil and gas industry that poured $11 million into a cynical attempt to write their own corporate profits into our constitution. Voters saw this deceptive measure for what it was – a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The only thing that the industry gained with their risky gamble with our state’s economy was an even further straining of their social license to operate in this state.

Conservation Colorado Executive Director Kelly Nordini has released the following statement on the results of state Senate and House elections:

Coloradans have spoken, and their values are clear: they want leaders who will take action to protect what makes our state so special: our clean air, wild places, rushing rivers, beautiful vistas, and diverse people.

We are congratulating dozens of candidates at the state and local levels who have prioritized conservation issues as part of their campaigns. Their victories will ensure that our state Senate and House will be led by conservation champions who will take action on the issues that are so important to Coloradans.

We’re excited to work with all of our state legislators to ensure that we continue Colorado’s national leadership on protecting our air, lands, water, and people.

Conservation Colorado’s top priority race was Senate District 16, and the group spent $350,000 to help Tammy Story secure victory. Senator Tim Neville’s repeated attacks on our public lands was a key factor in his loss. It’s clearer than ever that Colorado voters — especially in Jefferson County, a bellwether area — value our open spaces and wild places and vote with them in mind.

At an unprecedented level, Coloradans were energized and engaged on environmental issues in this election because they clearly see the threat coming out of the Trump administration and want Colorado to be a national leader. That’s why in the 2018 election cycle, Conservation Colorado and its political committees spent more money, knocked on more doors, and engaged more voters than ever before. Our activities included:

  • Endorsing 55 candidates.
  • Spending $4.6 million on direct contributions to candidates, expansive digital ad programs, direct mail, canvasses, and TV and radio ads.
  • Knocking on 561,375 doors in targeted areas across the state and making 2,735 calls.
  • Sending more than 150,000 texts, including 110,000 texts to Latino voters.
  • Mobilizing more than 300 members and volunteers to knock doors, make phone calls, and take action to support pro-conservation candidates.
  • Contributing $1.3 million in opposition to Amendment 74.

Conservation Colorado Executive Director Kelly Nordini released the following statement on the election of Phil Weiser as attorney general:

Conservation issues played an incredibly important role in this year’s race for attorney general. From day one, Phil Weiser prioritized Colorado values and pledged to address climate change, protect our lands and water, and ensure our state’s continued leadership on conservation.

As the Trump administration continues to rollback critical environmental protections, we need an attorney general who will stand up and fight back on behalf of Coloradans. Phil Weiser is that attorney general.

At an unprecedented level, Coloradans were energized and engaged on environmental issues in this election because they clearly see the threat coming out of the Trump administration and want Colorado to be a national leader. That’s why in the 2018 election cycle, Conservation Colorado and its political committees spent more money, knocked on more doors, and engaged more voters than ever before. Our activities included:

  • Endorsing 55 candidates.
  • Spending $4.6 million on direct contributions to candidates, expansive digital ad programs, direct mail, canvasses, and TV and radio ads.
  • Knocking on 561,375 doors in targeted areas across the state and making 2,735 calls.
  • Sending more than 150,000 texts, including 110,000 texts to Latino voters.
  • Mobilizing more than 300 members and volunteers to knock doors, make phone calls, and take action to support pro-conservation candidates.
  • Contributing $1.3 million in opposition to Amendment 74.

Conservation Colorado Victory Fund to spend $3.2 million on upcoming elections

Walker Stapleton has been named to the signature “Dirty Dozen in the States” list for 2018. This list, modeled after LCV Victory Fund’s federal “Dirty Dozen,” identifies the 12 worst state-based candidates for our environment and way of life running for state office across the nation.

In order protect the Colorado way of life and ensure that our Governor reflects the conservation values of voters, Conservation Colorado Victory Fund is announcing a $3.2 million political program to defeat Walker Stapleton and elect pro-conservation candidates to the state legislature.

“Colorado voters expect their governors to value our way of life and our land, air, and water as much as they do,” said Conservation Colorado Victory Fund Executive Director Kelly Nordini. “Walker Stapleton seems to be almost completely focused on drilling for oil and gas rather than making Colorado a leader on renewable energy, clean air, and public lands.”

Conservation Colorado Victory Fund’s 2018 program will be the largest political program the committee has ever run. It will feature a robust field program to knock doors throughout the state and include a comprehensive digital and mail program to ensure voters know where candidates stand from the governor’s race to the state House.

The reasons for Walker Stapleton’s inclusion in the “Dirty Dozen” are clear. As state treasurer, Stapleton chose to work for himself and side with special interests, not the people of Colorado. As a candidate for governor, he is running on policies that will benefit corporate polluters.

“When Coloradans need a smart leader who shows up and fights for their priorities, Stapleton would let corporate polluters and other special interests dictate the future of our state,” said Nordini.

Background

About the “Dirty Dozen in the States”
Modeled after LCV Victory Fund’s federal “Dirty Dozen,” the state version highlights 12 of the most anti-environment state-level candidates from around the country who state LCVs are working to defeat for the 2018 election cycle. Members of the “Dirty Dozen in the States” have consistently sided against the environment and — regardless of party affiliation — are running in races in which an LCV state affiliate has a serious chance to affect the outcome.

About Conservation Colorado Victory Fund
Conservation Colorado Victory Fund is a program of Conservation Colorado, a grassroots organization that mobilizes people to advance pro-conservation policy and elect conservation-minded leaders.

Paid for by Conservation Colorado Victory Fund and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. Nikki Riedt, registered agent.

Today, the Colorado Outdoor Business Alliance released a letter signed by more than 100 Colorado businesses in support of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), one of the nation’s premier conservation programs. The open letter encourages Colorado decision makers to support full and permanent reauthorization of LWCF as an investment in our state’s outdoor recreation economy.

LWCF uses federal revenues from offshore oil and gas drilling to support the conservation of our public lands and waterways. It has protected natural areas, local parks, ballfields, and walkways in almost every county of the U.S. Colorado has received more than $260 million to support projects in the state, from Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area and Cross Mountain Ranch on the Yampa River to urban parks like Montbello Open Space Park.

The business signers include outdoor recreation and tourism businesses, as well as other emerging industries, from all across Colorado.

“We’ve built our brand around those who dare to study maps and approach adventure differently,” said Sarah and Thor Tingey of Alpacka Raft in Mancos. “Programs like LWCF support that by creating more opportunities for people to access rivers and streams and explore public lands and archaeological sites that may not have been previously protected. But even more, LWCF is and has been, a major catalyst in getting local, community-driven projects completed on time. This program is essential to each and every one of us in this country — whether we enjoy exploring desert canyons in pack rafts or riding our bikes along paved river trails.”

LWCF has been a successful program and has bipartisan support. But it will expire on September 30, 2018, unless Congress acts to reauthorize it.

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund has served to bridge strong partnerships between federal land managers, local and state governments, the private sector and non-profits,” said Ned Mayers of Western Anglers in Grand Junction. “This is a critical connection in efforts to sustain and grow our outdoor recreation economy and in setting the stage for how we do that for years to come. We need programs like LWCF to spur conservation projects and help our local economies and governments to complete community-driven projects.”

The full text of the letter and list of business supporters is below.

The Colorado Outdoor Business Alliance is a program of Conservation Colorado. It aims to bring together Colorado’s leading businesses who recognize the fundamental role that public lands and a healthy environment play in sustaining Colorado’s emerging outdoor recreation economy.

An Open Letter to Colorado’s Decision Makers:

Since the 1960s, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has fulfilled a bipartisan commitment to natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation programs, while using zero taxpayer dollars to do so. From protecting natural areas and open space to local parks, ball fields, and walkways, LWCF has played a pivotal role in spurring local and regional economies and community well-being. As Colorado business owners and community leaders, we recognize the distinct advantage that our quality of life provides our companies, such as attracting and retaining a high-quality workforce, and LWCF has played a critical role in bolstering the competitive advantage of locating a business in Colorado.

We ask that you advocate for and support permanently reauthorizing and fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund before its expiration on September 30, 2018. LWCF is integral to meeting the needs of our communities, businesses and local chambers, improving access to the outdoors, conserving working landscapes, developing new urban parks, and protecting wildlife. An investment in LWCF is an investment in Colorado’s booming outdoor recreation economy, which supports nearly 230,000 direct jobs. Eliminating or placing restrictions on LWCF would directly undermine this economic asset, and place our outdoor recreation economy at risk.

All told, Colorado has been a major beneficiary of LWCF funding, receiving over $260 million to support projects across the state; projects that have multiplied across local economies around places like the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area and the Cross Mountain Ranch along the Yampa River. In addition to benefiting our communities and local economies, LWCF is a key component in maintaining clean, safe and reliable drinking water, improving public land access, ensuring our children have places to play, and attracting entrepreneurs, retirees, and tourists – all of which positively impact our local economies, businesses and quality of life.

With less than 100 days until the Land and Water Conservation Fund expires, we urge you to work diligently towards permanently reauthorizing this program with full and dedicated funding. Doing so is in the best interest of the Colorado business community, our local and regional economies and our quality of life. You can take immediate action by co-sponsoring H.R. 502 or S. 569 & 896. Supporting this program is supporting the Colorado business community and the outdoor recreation economy.