Today the Colorado General Assembly passed SB18-066, sending it to Governor Hickenlooper’s desk for signature. The bill reauthorizes the Lottery Division, which will expire in 2024 without legislation, to administer the program for 25 additional years. The proceeds from Colorado’s lottery support outdoor recreation and land conservation in all 64 counties in the state.

“Colorado is the only state that distributes 100 percent of lottery proceeds to support outdoor recreation and land conservation,” said Scott Braden, Wilderness and Public Lands Advocate at Conservation Colorado. “The legislature’s support for lottery reauthorization sends a clear message that we value our public lands — from city playgrounds to state parks. With this bill, we will ensure that Coloradans can continue to access and enjoy the trails, rivers, and wildlife we all treasure.”

Half of the proceeds from Colorado’s Lottery go to a program called Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO). GOCO has returned more than $1.1 billion in funding to the people of Colorado. These projects have helped connect families to the outdoors, created and enhanced community trails and parks, built outdoor recreation facilities, preserved wild spaces and wildlife habitat, and improved river access and quality.

GOCO has funded projects from the Eastern Plains to the Western Slope, including:

  • Creating and improving over 1,600 community parks and outdoor recreation areas.

  • Conserving more than 1 million acres.

  • Restoring or reconstructing 900 miles of trails.

  • Protecting nearly 1,000 miles of rivers.

  • Adding over 47,000 acres to the state parks system.

  • Investing in efforts supporting 43 endangered or threatened species.

News outlets are reporting that President Donald Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt are expected to begin the process of rolling back national clean car standards in the coming days. These standards are widely supported, save Coloradans money at the gas pump, and reduce smog and toxic pollution.

“Trump and Pruitt are forcing EPA to review and reverse years of clean air policies, including the most effective safeguards to protect public health and cut carbon pollution,” said Noah Long, senior attorney with Natural Resources Defense Council. “Coloradans will be hurt by this rollback unless the state stands up to assert its right to clean air.”

Coloradans have saved $550 million at the pump since the federal government set standards in 2012 to double fuel efficiency for cars and light trucks by 2025. Under these standards, the average Colorado household would have seen $2,700 in savings by 2030—savings that won’t happen with this rollback.

This rollback will increase carbon emissions in Colorado by 3.9 million tons per year, undercutting Governor Hickenlooper’s goals to address our changing climate. Emissions of smog-causing air pollutants from vehicles would increase by about 15 percent, making it harder for places like Colorado’s Front Range to meet federal ozone standards that protect our health. For Coloradans, especially the 343,000 people who are living with asthma, more air pollution means more coughing and wheezing, increased risk of infection, and permanent damage to lung tissue.

“These rollbacks will cancel out nearly all of the climate benefits that will be provided by the governor’s executive order on climate,” said Will Toor, director of transportation programs for the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. “They will also make it harder for Colorado to meet federal air quality standards and will force consumers to pay hundreds of millions of dollars a year in additional fuel costs. They will leave Colorado residents poorer and breathing dirtier air,”

“The federal clean car standards save Coloradans money every time we fuel up our cars and result in less air pollution every time we drive,” said Danny Katz, director of CoPIRG. “The Trump administration is taking action to make cars more inefficient, which will cost us at the pump and every time we step outside for some fresh air.”

With this federal rollback, states that have adopted their own standards will continue to enjoy the benefits of cheaper car travel and cleaner air, while other states will move backward with dirtier and less efficient vehicles. Conservation groups in Colorado are calling on the governor to take action so Colorado can continue to see the benefits of cleaner cars, even as federal protections are undone.

“Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt’s rollback of the clean car standards endangers our public health and environment and will stifle Colorado’s transition to the clean energy economy,” said Jim Alexee, Director of Sierra Club’s Colorado Chapter. “Governor Hickenlooper has advocated for having the cleanest air in the nation, and now he has an important opportunity to put Colorado in the fast lane to protect our health and climate, and to keep us from wasting money on gas.”

“These rollbacks will be devastating for our climate and our air,”  said Sophia Guerrero-Murphy, transportation advocate at Conservation Colorado.  “Governor Hickenlooper has committed to cleaning up Colorado’s air pollution, and to achieve that goal we need to see bold action in our state for clean transportation.”

Background:
These national emissions standards have benefited Colorado both in terms of cost savings and better air quality.

  • According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, no other federal policy is delivering as much oil savings, consumer benefits, and carbon emission reductions as the 2012 Federal Fuel Economy and Vehicle Emissions Standards.
  • Those states that have adopted the Advanced Clean Car standards will continue with their low emission vehicle standards (ten states in total). In other states, substantially dirtier and less efficient vehicles will be allowed to be sold.
  • These standards from the EPA pushed car manufacturers to make their cars more fuel efficient. For Colorado, that means the average on-road fuel economy of new cars and trucks in 2025 will be 37 mpg versus an average of 21 mpg from before these went into effect.
  • According to AAA, the average cost of owning and operating a vehicle in 2017 is $8,649. Because of the federal emissions standard, the average Colorado household would have seen $2,700 in savings by 2030 from lower gas bills.
  • Transportation is the #2 source of greenhouse gas emissions in Colorado, and the highest in the nation.
  • The greater Denver area ranked the 6th worst in the country for bad air days in 2015, and we are still in not in alignment with federal air quality safety regulations.

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

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

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

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

Representatives Dylan Roberts and Barbara McLachlan today introduced HB18-1301, a bill to protect water quality after hard rock mining takes place. This bill ensures protecting water quality is a priority when issuing new mining reclamation permits and requires adequate financial tools to be in place for cleanup of potential mining pollution.

“It’s simple: our drinking water should be clean,” said Kristin Green, Water Advocate for Conservation Colorado. “That’s why HB18-1301 is so critical. Our state’s mining laws are in dire need of an update to protect the rushing rivers and streams we all treasure. Coloradans across the board want to see mining pollution addressed, and we can all agree that it’s a good idea to protect the rivers we count on for our drinking water from toxic mining pollution.”

Colorado has a rich history of mining, and past mining operations have created significant water quality and public health issues for the state. More than 1,600 miles of rivers and streams have been impacted by mining pollution.

Public opinion research shows that 88 percent of Coloradans believe it’s a problem that tens of thousands of Colorado’s polluting mine sites have not been cleaned up, while 70 percent say mining companies should be held financially responsible for the damage and pollution that they cause.

Specifically, HB18-1301 would:

  • Give the state of Colorado the authority to include water quality protection in the bond amount when issuing permits for hard rock mining. Bonds are the money provided by mine operators to help cover costs for protecting public health and the environment, even if the company goes bankrupt or abandons operations.

  • Hold operators accountable by ensuring they have a plan for water quality treatment that includes an end date, to avoid creating more chronically polluting mines in our state.

  • Outlaw “self-bonding” in Colorado, aligning our laws with the majority of states and federal agencies. Colorado is one of just seven remaining states that allows self-bonding, which leaves taxpayers vulnerable to footing the bill for mine cleanup.

    Contact:

Today the House Select Committee on Climate Responsibility will hold its first of three hearings to investigate solutions to the problems that climate change poses to our Colorado way of life. The committee will hear from experts from across the state focusing on energy efficiency, rural economic development opportunities, and the electricity sector.

Leading environmental, business, and agriculture organizations are excited about the focus of the Select Committee:

“Climate change is real, and it is already affecting those of us who live, work, and play in Colorado. The longer we wait to cut our carbon pollution, the direr the consequences will be for our state, economy, and communities. Colorado needs to take bold actions, and this Select Committee is the perfect place to explore how Colorado can be a leader among states.” – Amelia Myers, Energy Advocate, Conservation Colorado

“Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) is pleased to be involved with the House Select Committee, and we appreciate their leadership in tackling these difficult issues. This Committee is an important step to evaluate smart solutions to curb greenhouse gas emissions while also growing jobs across the state. There are more than 66,000 people working in Colorado’s clean energy economy — an increase of 6% over the previous year. From experience, we can expect Colorado’s economy to continue to grow from smart policies that benefit our environment.” –Susan Nedell, Rocky Mountains Advocate, Environmental Entrepreneurs

“The livelihoods of Colorado’s farmers and ranchers, rural economies, and our food supply are all vulnerable to the extremes of climate change. The National Young Farmers Coalition thanks the committee for taking action to address these challenges, including highlighting climate solutions already being practiced by some of Colorado’s most innovative farmers and ranchers and opportunities to encourage further investment in voluntary climate-smart agriculture practices and markets.” – Alexander Funk, Western Policy Director, National Young Farmers Coalition

Outside of the Select Committee, the legislature will also consider bills that seek to address the effects of climate change. HB18-1274, for example, would set a goal of reducing our statewide carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050 from 2005 levels, a goal that is in line with Governor Hickenlooper’s executive order as well as the Paris Climate Agreement.

Contact:

Jace Woodrum, 720-412-3772
Susan Nedell, 303-250-4559

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

Notably, Senator Cory Gardner received a zero percent score.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact:

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

Today Colorado Senators passed SB18-066, which extends the operation of the State Lottery Division. The bill reauthorizes the Lottery Division, which will expire in 2024 without action from the General Assembly, to administer the program for 25 additional years. The proceeds from Colorado’s Lottery support outdoor recreation and land conservation in all 64 counties in the state.

“Colorado is the only state that distributes 100 percent of lottery proceeds to support outdoor recreation and land conservation,” said Scott Braden, Wilderness and Public Lands Advocate at Conservation Colorado. “The Senate’s support for lottery reauthorization sends a clear message that we value our public lands — from city playgrounds to state parks. Our Representatives should follow suit and pass this bill to ensure that Coloradans can continue to access and enjoy the trails, rivers, and wildlife we all treasure.”

Half of the proceeds from Colorado’s Lottery go to a program called Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO). GOCO has returned more than $1.1 billion in funding to the people of Colorado. These projects have helped connect families to the outdoors, created and enhanced community trails and parks, built outdoor recreation facilities, preserved wild spaces and wildlife habitat, and improved river access and quality.

GOCO has funded projects from the Eastern Plains to the Western Slope, including:

  • Creating and improving over 1,600 community parks and outdoor recreation areas.
  • Conserving more than 1 million acres.
  • Restoring or reconstructing 900 miles of trails.
  • Protecting nearly 1,000 miles of rivers.
  • Adding over 47,000 acres to the state parks system.
  • Investing in efforts supporting 43 endangered or threatened species.

About Conservation Colorado
Conservation Colorado protects Colorado’s environment and quality of life by mobilizing people and electing conservation-minded policymakers. Learn more at conservationco.org.

Contact: Jace Woodrum, 720-412-3772
jace@conservationco.org

Contact: Jace Woodrum, 720-412-3772

Today, the House advanced HB-1071, Regulate Oil Gas Operations Protect Public Safety. The 7-6 vote comes just days after the Colorado Supreme Court agreed to hear the Martinez v. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission appeal, shining a spotlight on the conflict between the oil and gas industry and the welfare of the public.

In response, Conservation Colorado and the League of Oil and Gas Impacted Citizens (LOGIC) issued the following statements:

“There really is no debate here: Colorado must prioritize the health and safety of our residents and the preservation of our environment when regulating the oil and gas industry. We need the state to set a strong standard that directs the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to put people over profits,” said Sophia Guerrero-Murphy, Energy Advocate, Conservation Colorado.

“Oil and gas has chosen to try to force large-scale industrial facilities nearer homes and schools while proclaiming they have the right to do so. But neither the state, nor the oil and gas industry can continue to make the claim that neighborhood drilling is safe. So when it comes to a question of protecting the public health and safety of Colorado residents, it should be a no brainer. Our state needs to take steps to make the well-being of Colorado families its first priority,” said Sara Loflin, LOGIC Executive Director.

About HB-1071
HB-1071, Regulate Oil Gas Operations Protect Public Safety, is a response to large-scale oil and gas development that has been expanding into neighborhoods, especially as Colorado grows and becomes more dense. For years, communities in Colorado have been struggling with how to balance health and safety with heavy industrial activities like oil and gas.
Tragically, in the Spring of 2017, oil and gas development led to a home explosion in Firestone, Colorado, where two people lost their lives, and another was seriously injured. Since then, there have been 14 more oil and gas-related explosions, 6 leaks that contaminated waterways, and 22 leaks that are under investigation for potential contamination of water wells. Even under the safest operating conditions, which aren’t always employed, this industrial activity poses a risk to health and safety.

HB-1071 seeks to compel the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to prioritize health, safety, and environmental welfare when considering new oil and gas permits. This bill seeks to clarify the state’s priorities in a quickly shifting landscape where the tensions between fostering industry and protecting public welfare are mounting. There are significant hazards and dangers associated with fracking and drilling, especially in urban areas, and any time a permit is considered, the potential impacts on the community and the environment must be weighed.

About Martinez v. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission
Martinez v. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has ignited the ongoing debate over how to protect the health and safety of Coloradans as oil and gas development expands into neighborhoods and developed areas.

In 2013, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez and several other Colorado young people asked the COGCC to adopt a regulation stating that no drilling permits will be issued without a finding that drilling can occur without impairing Colorado’s air, water, and wildlife and that drilling does not adversely affect public health. The COGCC denied the request, holding that it lacked legal authority to issue such a rule. In March 2017, the Colorado Court of Appeals set aside the COGCC’s decision, holding that state law makes “protection of public health, safety and welfare, including protection of the environment and wildlife resources” a prerequisite for approving oil and gas development. While rejecting the COGCC’s legal interpretation, the Court did not address whether the agency should adopt the specific rule language requested by the Martinez plaintiffs.

The COGCC and the American Petroleum Institute appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court, which announced that it would take the case on January 29, 2018.

Conservation Organizations and Business Groups Commend Plan

Today Governor John Hickenlooper released Colorado’s Electric Vehicle Plan, which outlines a process to electrify the state’s transportation corridors and includes bold goals to further accelerate adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) and ensure Colorado remains a leader in the EV market. This plan represents the next step for the Governor’s July executive order to support Colorado’s clean energy transition and make Colorado a climate leader.

Conservation groups applauded this plan for its goals of almost a million electric vehicles on the road, 500 electric buses, a larger network of charging stations by 2030, and attention to expanding electric vehicle access across the state and urban neighborhoods.

“We’re excited to see Governor Hickenlooper set bold goals for electric vehicles in Colorado. These actions will help cut down on harmful air pollution and move the state toward a healthier future, especially when paired with more renewable energy on our grid. We look forward to learning about the ambitious policies that will make this plan a reality,” said Sophia Guerrero-Murphy, Transportation and Energy Advocate at Conservation Colorado.

“Governor Hickenlooper is taking a bold step forward by setting a target of nearly a million electric vehicles on the road by 2030. This would save consumers over half a billion dollars a year in fuel costs, would drive down electricity rates, saving utility customers $50 million per year, and would have a major impact on cleaner air and lower carbon emissions. Colorado has already adopted the nation’s best tax credit for electric vehicles and begun investing in charging stations. But we will need to increase electric vehicle adoption by a factor of ten to meet this goal. We look forward to working with the state on the legislation, investments, and policies that will be needed,” said Will Toor, Transportation Program Director for the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP).

“We need to eliminate pollution from cars, trucks, and buses. The best way to do that is to move to a 100% electric vehicle transportation system. We applaud Governor Hickenlooper for releasing a plan that highlights many of the steps we need to take. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get moving,” said Danny Katz, Director of CoPIRG (Colorado Public Interest Research Group).

“Colorado leads the nation with the highest tax credits for purchases of electric vehicles, and the EV plan sets the stage for the state to continue to position itself at the front of the pack in the transition to a clean energy economy,” said Matthew Shmigelsky from CLEER/Refuel Colorado.

“Encouraging the rapid transition to electric vehicles is an all-around win for our climate, our public health, and our economy. Coupled with Colorado’s transition to clean energy, electric vehicles offer the promise of 100 percent clean transportation as we move forward. The Colorado Sierra Club applauds Governor Hickenlooper for accelerating our transition to a 21st century clean transportation system,” said Jim Alexee, Director, Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter.

Due to tax credits, Colorado is the cheapest state in the country in which to buy an electric vehicle. As of August 2017, there were 11,238 electric vehicles in Colorado, according to the Zero Emission Vehicle Sales Dashboard.

Electric vehicles are already more efficient than traditional, gasoline engines. They have more power, fewer maintenance needs, and pollute less than a 35 mile per gallon gas car. As Colorado’s energy providers work to bring more renewable energy onto our grid, charging an electric vehicle will pollute less than a car that gets 88 miles per gallon in the next decade. This will result in fewer harmful toxins in our air for everyone.

About Conservation Colorado
Conservation Colorado protects Colorado’s environment and quality of life by mobilizing people and electing conservation-minded policymakers. Learn more at conservationco.org.

About SWEEP
SWEEP is a Colorado based advocacy organization that works to advance energy efficiency in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.

About CoPIRG
CoPIRG Foundation is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education, and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety, or well-being.

About CLEER
Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER) develops and delivers creative clean energy programs and services for communities, governments, businesses, and households in western Colorado.

About Sierra Club
With 24,000 members and 80,000 supporters, the Colorado Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action.

Contact: Jace Woodrum, 720-412-3772

Today Senator Michael Bennet and Representative Jared Polis introduced the Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act to permanently protect the natural beauty, outdoor recreation, historic resources, and wildlife habitat of the White River National Forest area, including Camp Hale as the first-ever National Historic Landscape.

“This bill would protect 96,000 acres in the country’s busiest national forest,” said Scott Braden, Wilderness and Public Lands Advocate at Conservation Colorado. “Throughout the inclusive process to develop this legislation, thousands of Coloradans have spoken up to protect this wild place and preserve it for hiking, fishing, hunting, wildlife watching, and world-class mountain biking.”

The bill will protect portions of the White River National Forest in Colorado’s Summit and Eagle counties. The region is home to iconic vistas and mountain towns that attract visitors from metro Denver and around the world. These wild places are at risk from overuse and development that could threaten the area’s clean water, wildlife, and booming outdoor recreation economy.

“Senator Bennet and Representative Polis are showing, once again, their incredible commitment and leadership on behalf of Coloradans who treasure their public lands. All of us want to ensure that the outdoor recreation industry continues to grow, that our wild places are preserved for our grandchildren, and that the natural heritage that defines Colorado remains for all to explore and enjoy,” continued Braden.

The Act would create 20,000 acres of new wilderness areas in the Williams Fork Mountains, Tenmile Range, and Hoosier Ridge, and it would expand the existing Holy Cross, Eagles Nest, and Ptarmigan Peak wilderness areas by another 20,000 acres.

In addition, nearly 30,000 acres of public lands surrounding Camp Hale will be protected as the country’s first National Historic Landscape. In 1945, Colorado’s challenging landscapes helped to train the soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division who went on to fight in Italy’s mountains in World War II. Former members of the 10th Mountain Division went on to help found approximately 60 ski resorts around the country, including Vail, Aspen, Arapahoe Basin, Keystone, and Steamboat. A flood of surplus skis and other outdoor equipment helped launch the modern outdoor recreation industry.

“Protecting the area around Camp Hale honors those soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice and those who returned to Colorado to help the state become one of the greatest places to play outside,” said Braden.

Senator Bennet and Representative Polis will celebrate the introduction of the bill at the Outdoor Retailer Snow Show (OR Show) in Denver. In response to extreme anti-public lands policies, the OR Show moved from Utah to Colorado, making it the perfect place to mark the introduction of this historic legislation. Senator Bennet and Representative Polis will speak at the OR Show on Saturday, January 27, 4:30 – 5:00 p.m. at the Outdoor Research booth (44030-UL).