Conservation Colorado, the largest statewide environmental advocacy organization in Colorado, today announced its endorsement of Jared Polis for governor.

“Jared Polis is one of the strongest voices for conservation in the state and the nation, and he will work hard to protect what we all love about Colorado: our clear blue skies, rushing rivers, wild places, and diverse communities,” said Maria Handley, acting executive director of Conservation Colorado. “Conservation is a key part of Jared’s bold vision for Colorado’s future, which is backed up by his long record of fighting fearlessly to protect Colorado’s outdoor spaces along with the thousands of businesses and jobs they sustain. We couldn’t be more thrilled to work on behalf of such an accomplished and qualified candidate.”

Jared Polis added, “Conservation Colorado has been working for more than 50 years to protect Colorado’s wild places by electing environmental champions and fighting at the grassroots level for strong policies that protect our planet and strengthen our communities. I’m proud to have their endorsement and look forward to working with their 40,000 members to defend our public lands, grow our outdoor recreation economy, create good-paying green jobs that can never be outsourced, and make sure we can continue to enjoy our Colorado way of life.”

Polis will face Republican Walker Stapleton in the general election in November. Stapleton has undermined the benefits of renewable energy for consumers, opposes efforts to clean up air pollution from transportation, and openly pleaded with the oil and gas industry to spend more money on his campaign.

“The contrast between Jared Polis and Walker Stapleton couldn’t be more clear. While Walker Stapleton has pledged his allegiance to polluting corporations, Jared Polis is committed to protecting the health and safety of all Coloradans and the state we call home,” said Handley. “We need a leader who will fight for our families, and who will always put Coloradans first. That choice is clear, and that leader is Jared Polis.”

Conservation Colorado’s family of organizations is poised to spend millions of dollars in support of Jared Polis and state legislative candidates who have committed to protecting the environment. In 2016, Conservation Colorado invested $1.3 million on expansive digital ad programs, mail, paid canvasses, and TV and radio ads. The organization mobilized nearly 1,000 volunteers to knock on more than 76,000 doors, resulting in a 90 percent win rate in terms of candidates endorsed.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper today announced an executive order directing Colorado air quality officials to begin a process to adopt state advanced clean car standards in response to the Trump administration’s expected rollback of federal rules. The governor’s executive order will make Colorado the first state in the interior of the country to chart the path of enacting these standards, and it will give Coloradans strong safeguards from air pollution caused by gasoline and diesel vehicles.

By initiating this public rulemaking process, Colorado could join 13 other states and the District of Columbia as leaders in clean car technology and clean air. Ultimately, the implementation of the standards will save Coloradans money at the gas pump, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce pollutants from millions of vehicles.

 

Advocates for the environment and public health have released the following statements:

“Motor vehicles are a significant contributor to air pollution and climate change. As the federal government continues to roll back environmental protections to appease industry interests, it’s up to the states to take action. Colorado can’t — and won’t — be left behind. Governor Hickenlooper’s executive order ensures that Colorado is a leader in the nation and shows that Coloradans are committed to cutting air pollution for the sake of our health, economy, and environment.”  – Maria Handley, acting executive director, Conservation Colorado.

“Transportation is the number two source of greenhouse gas emissions in Colorado — and number one source of emissions in the nation. Adopting clean car standards means fewer bad air days and a better quality of life for citizens across our state.”  – Garrett Garner-Wells, director of Environment Colorado.

“Inefficient cars are just wasteful – they cost consumers every time we go to the pump and they hurt our health when they produce unnecessary pollution. Clean car standards result in more fuel efficient and cleaner vehicles, which benefit our wallets and our personal health. As technology advances, we need to take advantage of even cleaner, more fuel efficient cars. That’s why we applaud Governor Hickenlooper’s action to make Colorado a leader around fuel efficient, cleaner cars.”  – Danny Katz, director of CoPIRG (Colorado Public Interest Research Group).

“With the Trump administration abdicating leadership on cleaning up tailpipe pollution and saving consumers money on gas, states need advanced vehicle standards to ensure their citizens get to drive the cleanest, most affordable cars on the market. This action will help ensure Coloradans still get clean air and cleaner cars.”  – Noah Long, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“Governor Hickenlooper deserves credit for taking bold action to make Colorado the first state in the Mountain West to adopt the Clean Car Standards. As the federal government continues to favor corporate interests over the public good, Governor Hickenlooper’s action will help save families from paying extra at the gas pump and help keep pollution out of our Rocky Mountain air.”  – Zach Pierce, senior campaign representative for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in Colorado.

 

Background:

Thirteen states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington) and the District of Columbia have adopted a set of state clean car standards designed to reduce the emission of smog-forming pollutants, particulate matter, and carbon pollution and to support the development of zero-emission vehicle technology. These states represent nearly 40 percent of the new vehicle sales market. Governor Hickenlooper’s executive order puts Colorado on the path to join these states by initiating a public process with the Air Quality Control Commission.

recently released report details some of the health and economic benefits of adopting the Advanced Clean Car Standards. Denver was ranked the 11th most polluted city in the nation for ozone levels, and vehicle emissions are one of the largest contributors. Adopting the advanced standards will not only protect Coloradans from illness, but it will save money. According to the report, with the clean car standards in place, by 2040 Colorado would save roughly $16 to $37 million in health care costs; reduce the number of work days lost due to illness from air pollutant emissions; and save $260 million per year in social costs from long-term damage caused by carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

The governor’s executive order comes in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ongoing efforts to roll back 2012 federal clean car standards designed to improve air quality and protect public health. The federal emissions standards have been good for 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 Vehicle Emissions Standards.
  • According to AAA, the average cost of owning and operating a vehicle in 2017 is $8,649. Because of the federal clean cars standards, the average Colorado household was expecting to see $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 federal standards were set to reduce carbon emissions in Colorado by 4.5 million tons per year.
  • In the Denver area, emissions of smog-causing air pollutants from vehicles is set to increase by about 15 percent if the federal standards are rolled back. 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.

 

CONTACTS:

Jace Woodrum, Conservation Colorado, 720-412-3772

Danny Katz, Colorado Public Interest Research Group, 608-215-0929

Garrett Garner-Wells, Environment Colorado, 321-536-6019

Noah Long, Natural Resources Defense Council, 860-515-6885

Thomas Young, Sierra Club, 719-393-2354

Contact: Jace Woodrum, 720-412-3772

Xcel Energy, the largest electricity provider in Colorado, today took the next step in its “Colorado Energy Plan,” which provides a roadmap for how Colorado can move toward a clean energy future. The new details show that bids from renewable energy developers were the lowest ever seen in the U.S. to date, meaning that Xcel customers will benefit from lower costs while Coloradans will enjoy cleaner air.

“The fact of the matter is this: renewable energy like wind and solar will save ratepayers money while cleaning up carbon pollution,” said Maria Handley, acting executive director at Conservation Colorado. “Nearly ten thousand Coloradans showed their continued and resounding support for clean energy by speaking out for this plan, and the economics prove that it’s time for our transition away from coal. We’re thrilled to live in a state that continues to be a leader in the nation when it comes to the environment and clean energy, and we encourage our Public Utilities Commissioners to approve the Colorado Energy Plan.”

The “120-day report,” filed with the Public Utilities Commission, contains details on the mix of energy sources Xcel hopes to use under its Electric Resource Plan. Not only does the plan include more than 1,800 megawatts of new wind and solar, but it would also double the amount of battery storage in the U.S., making our grid more resilient by storing renewable energy for later use. Prices for solar and wind paired with energy storage were priced lower than existing coal-generated power in Colorado, confirming that clean energy will actually save customers an estimated $213 million.

Xcel’s plan seeks to close two coal plants in Pueblo and replace them with three solar projects and two battery storage projects in the county. Taking these coal plants offline will reduce Xcel’s carbon emissions by approximately 4.5 million tons each year—a reduction of 59 percent from 2005 levels.

This latest report comes after months of public input, during which a record 9,428 people submitted comments to the Public Utilities Commission and dozens more packed their hearings in Denver and Pueblo. The overwhelming majority of this public input was in favor of a clean energy mix for Coloradans.

Contact: Jessica Goad, 720-206-4235

The Colorado state Senate just moved to accept the state House amendments and repass SB 1, a bill funding Colorado transportation including significant investment in multimodal options.

Maria Handley, Interim Executive Director of Conservation Colorado, stated:

We’re pleased with this compromise, as it recognizes the need to significantly grow our investments in multimodal options like senior and disability buses, sidewalks for pedestrians, highway shoulders for tractors, and resources to keep everyone safe. It is a step towards funding our state’s massive transportation needs in a fiscally responsible manner and supports a system that will benefit all Coloradans.

With 2.5 million more people expected to live in Colorado over the next 25 years, multimodal options are more important than ever to combat congestion and improve air quality. We believe additional revenues are needed to address our full suite of transportation needs, but this bill provides critical initial investments to move us forward.

We thank Speaker Crisanta Duran, Representative Faith Winter, Senator Rachel Zenzinger, Senator Kevin Grantham, and other leaders who were relentless in ensuring that this bill provide equitable investments for both urban and rural Coloradans.

SB 1 funds multimodal options in the following ways:

  • $74.25 million to the multimodal transportation fund in this year’s one-time general fund transfer of $495 million
  • $22.5 million to the multimodal transportation fund in next year’s one-time general fund transfer of $150 million
  • 15 percent of the net proceeds from TRANS bonds to the multimodal transportation options fund
  • Creates the multimodal transportation options fund for local governments and state transit projects
  • Creates greater flexibility for local governments by removing restrictions for how they spend their multimodal dollars

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