Contact: Scott Braden, 720-530-7473

President Trump is in Utah today where he is expected to announce the slashing of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments by hundreds of thousands of acres.

Scott Braden, Conservation Colorado’s Wilderness and Public Lands Advocate, traveled to Salt Lake City this past weekend to join a protest against Trump’s actions (please feel free to use his photo included in this release’s header).

Braden stated: “President Trump’s actions are one of the largest attack on public lands in our nation’s history. This is a slap in the face to every Coloradan who cherishes our Western way of life, and is an move that threatens all protected public lands and national monuments. Trump’s decision is part of a offensive pattern of insults to Native American tribes, part of whose cultural legacy is protected by the Bears Ears National Monument. No park or monument is safe from this malicious administration, including those in Colorado.”

More information:

  • A campaign to protect Bears Ears was led by Hopi, Navajo, Ute and Zuni tribal leaders, and protected 100,000 archaeological sites. It links critical habitat corridors and several national parks along the Colorado Plateau.
  • The Antiquities Act has been deployed to create parks and protect some of Colorado’s most exemplary natural treasures including the Great Sand Dunes, Browns Canyon, Chimney Rock, and Colorado National Monument.
  • In a 2017 poll of seven Western states, 80% of voters supported keeping protections for existing national monuments.

Conservation Colorado’s executive director of eight years, Pete Maysmith, will be leaving his position at the end of September to join the national League of Conservation Voters as Senior Vice President for Campaigns.

“We are so proud of Pete and the wisdom, tenacity, and endless energy he has brought to Conservation Colorado,” said Diane Carman, chair of the board. “The fact that our national partner has recruited him speaks volumes about the power and success of this organization. Conservation Colorado is strong, healthy, and will work harder than ever to pass visionary environmental policies and elect pro-conservation candidates in 2018. We wish Pete the best and look forward to working with him in his new role.”

“In the new reality that is the Trump administration, now more than ever we need to build our organizing and political power to ensure that our elected officials represent our values,” said Maysmith. “I’m thrilled to take on the challenge of building the conservation movement nationally and in other states, and together we will fight the forces that seek to pollute our air and water and undermine our right to a healthy environment. I am certain that the organization is in good hands, and I will be cheering them over the coming months and years.”

Carrie Curtiss, Conservation Colorado’s deputy director who has been with the organization for 11 years, has agreed to serve as acting executive director until she makes a long-planned career transition at the end of the year. In the meantime, Conservation Colorado will undertake a national search for a new executive director.

Maysmith and Curtiss guided the organization through the 2013 merger of Colorado Conservation Voters and the Colorado Environmental Coalition that led to the creation of Conservation Colorado. Since the merger, the organization has significantly increased its budget and staff capacity, with a deep focus on electoral capacity and Latino organizing and outreach.

During their tenure, and in partnership with key allies across Colorado, Maysmith and Curtiss oversaw myriad programmatic successes, including:

  • The implementation of “Clean Air Clean Jobs,” which resulted in the retirement of 900 megawatts of coal-fired power
  • The increase of Colorado’s renewable electricity standard to 30 percent by 2020
  • The doubling of the rural renewable electricity standard to 20 percent by 2020
  • The passage of the strongest state methane pollution rules in the nation
  • The release of the first-ever state water plan that emphasizes conservation
  • The creation of the first state holiday celebrating public lands
  • The protection of tens of thousands of acres of public lands, including the Hermosa Creek Wilderness and the Browns Canyon National Monument
  • The decision to have Colorado join the U.S. Climate Alliance in the face of the Trump administration leaving the Paris Climate Agreement

Conservation Colorado is the largest state-based environmental organization in the country with nearly 40 staff in Denver and three field offices as well as 36,000 members across the state. The organization spent $1.3 million in the 2016 elections and had a 90 percent win rate of its endorsed candidates.

Contact: Jessica Goad, 720-206-4235
Eight Major Rivers Across the State Given Grades for Their Health and Well-being

Conservation Colorado today unveiled its first-ever “rivers report card,” an assessment of the health and well-being of eight rivers across the state based on several factors including water quality and flows. Only one river received an “A” grade, while four received grades of “C” or worse.

“Colorado’s rivers sustain our communities, economy, environment, and way of life,” said Kristin Green, Water Advocate at Conservation Colorado. “They provide us with clean drinking water, irrigate Colorado crops, support wildlife habitat, and provide world-class recreation opportunities. In order to protect our rivers, we must first have a clear understanding of what threatens them. This report is a call to action for anyone who cares about our rivers to get involved and fight to ensure they are clean, healthy, and flowing.”

The grades for the rivers analyzed in the report are:

  • Arkansas River: C
  • Colorado River: D
  • Dolores River: D-
  • North Fork of the Gunnison River: B-
  • North Platte River: B+
  • Rio Grande River: B
  • South Platte River: C
  • Yampa River: A

Grades for each river were assessed by analyzing their flows, the amount of water diverted out of the basin, water quality, and the existence of major dams. 

Colorado’s rivers are threatened by climate change, overuse, poor dam management, energy development, and the needs of a population that is set to double by 2050. The report provides several ideas to protect our rivers, including conserving water, voluntarily sharing water rights, avoiding large new water diversions, building water-smart landscapes, and implementing Colorado’s Water Plan. 

Contact: Jessica Goad, 720- 206-4235

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper today announced major steps to fight climate change, including putting the state of Colorado on track to meet the emissions reductions targets of the landmark Paris climate agreement and joining Colorado into the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of 13 states and Puerto Rico committed to meeting the goals and objectives of the Paris Agreement. 

“Times like these demand decisive action, and we are pleased to see Governor Hickenlooper join the burgeoning movement among states, cities, and businesses to tackle climate change,” said Pete Maysmith, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado. “The actions that the governor has announced will not only help us fight climate change, but will bring clean energy jobs and business innovation to the Centennial State. With today’s announcement, President Trump has become even more isolated from the world, whose leaders are taking aggressive action to fight climate change. We are excited to work with Governor Hickenlooper to meet or exceed all of these important targets.”

Other actions in the governor’s announcement include:

  • Measurable goals for carbon emissions cuts in the utility sector, as well as those for energy efficiency.
  • Supporting electric vehicle infrastructure in Colorado. 
  • Focusing on making buildings more sustainable.
  • Adopting greenhouse gas tracking and reporting requirements for Colorado, which will enable the state to identify opportunities to cut pollution and therefore save energy and money.
  • Spurring economic development in Colorado’s coal and mining communities.
  • New partnerships with local governments to fight climate change.

The 2015 Paris Agreement included a worldwide goal of limiting temperature increases to no more than 2 degrees Celsius and ideally 1.5 degrees Celsius. As part of this, the U.S. set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to between 26 and 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, and also outlined “mid-century” goals to get to zero emissions.

Colorado’s clean energy economy is rapidly expanding, with 62,000 jobsalready in the clean technology sector and more than 2,000 cleantech companies. Nearly 90 Colorado businesses have pledged to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Contacto: Jessica Goad, 720-206-4235

El gobernador de Colorado, John Hickenlooper, anunció el día de hoy importantes medidas para luchar contra el cambio climático, incluyendo el encaminar al estado de Colorado para cumplir con la reducción de emisiones cual tiene como objetivo el histórico acuerdo climático de París e ingresar a Colorado a la Alianza Climática de EE.UU., una coalición bipartidista de 12 estados comprometidos a cumplir con las metas y objetivos del Acuerdo de París.

“Le agradecemos al gobernador Hickenlooper por tomar acción para combatir el cambio climático y edificar la economía de energía limpia de Colorado,” dijo Hilda Nucete, Directora de Programa Protégete en Conservation Colorado. “Las comunidades en las líneas frontales son las más afectadas por la contaminación del aire y los impactos del cambio climático, y frente a los ataques a nuestro aire limpio por parte del presidente Trump y su administración, el gobernador Hickenlooper está en lo correcto al anteponer a nuestras comunidades y familias.”

Otras acciones en el anuncio del gobernador incluyen:
-Objetivos mensurables en la disminución de emisiones de carbono en el sector de servicios públicos, así como aquellos de eficiencia energética.
-Apoyar de los vehículos eléctricos.
-Ampliar los programa de edificios sostenibles.
-Adoptar requerimientos de reporte de gases de efecto invernadero, lo cual le permitirá al estado identificar oportunidades para disminuir la contaminación y por lo tanto, ahorrar energía y dinero.
-Impulsar el desarrollo económico en las comunidades de carbón de Colorado.
-Nuevas asociaciones con gobiernos locales.

El Acuerdo de París 2015 incluía un objetivo mundial de limitar el aumento de temperatura a no más de 2 grados Celsius e idealmente 1.5 grados Celsius. Como parte de esto, EE.UU. estableció una meta de disminuir las emisiones de gas de efecto invernadero de entre 26 y 28 por ciento por debajo de los niveles de 2005 para el año 2025, y también delineó metas de “mediados de siglo” para conseguir cero emisiones.

La economía de energía limpia de Colorado esta expandiéndose ampliamente, con 62,000 empleos ya en el sector de tecnología limpia y más de 2,000 compañías de tecnología limpia. Cerca de 90 empresas de Colorado se han comprometido a cumplir con las metas del Acuerdo de París.

On the final day for public comments during the Trump administration’s “review” of 27 national monuments, Coloradans across the state are standing up for our public lands, especially our most exceptional protected places like Canyons of the Ancients National Monument near Cortez.

“Coloradans have shown unequivocally that they support our national parks and monuments,” said Scott Braden, Wilderness and Public Lands Advocate at Conservation Colorado. “President Trump and Secretary Zinke’s morally bankrupt threat to shrink or remove protections for our public lands has backfired and has resulted in even greater support for them. This attack has also shown Secretary Zinke’s initial claim to be a devotee of President Teddy Roosevelt to be a cruel farce.”

Since the beginning of the monuments review, announced in early May, Coloradans have spoken out in many ways:

  • As of this morning, nearly 12,000 Conservation Colorado members had submitted comments supporting Canyons of the Ancients. See a sampling of Coloradans’ comments here, including those from MB McAfee of Cortez and the CEO of Icelantic Skis.
  • Nationally, more than 2.5 million comments in favor of protecting our nation’s monuments have been submitted.
  • Editorial boards from across the state have weighed in for keeping Canyons of the Ancients protected or for the Antiquities Act, including the Denver Post, Grand Junction SentinelDurango Herald, and Cortez Journal.
  • Elected officials have weighed in, including:

– The Colorado state House unanimously voted to pass a resolution in support of the Antiquities Act and all of Colorado’s national monuments.
– Colorado’s statewide officials (Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner and Governor John Hickenlooper) as well as local Congressman Scott Tipton have supported Canyons of the Ancients.
– 29 county commissioners from across the state signed a letter to the Secretary of Interior stating, “These monuments are our heritage, our future and our template for preservation.”
– The Cortez City Council signed a strong letter to the Secretary of Interior saying, “Canyons of the Ancients became a National Monument because it is a special place and merits the protections that Monument Status provides.”

While Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has made assurances to some of our Colorado leaders that Canyons of the Ancients will remain unharmed, other national monuments have come under direct attack, even in the face of widespread public support. Secretary Zinke has recommended that neighboring Bears Ears National Monument in Utah be shrunk.

Contact: Jessica Goad, 720-206-4236

Relocation Puts Spotlight on Colorado’s Progressive Public Lands Policies

The Outdoor Retailer Show and its partners today announced that Denver has been chosen as the new home for the $45 million biannual gathering. While the decision was based on multiple factors, the outdoor industry noted in a February press release announcing solicitations for new show venues that one of the most vital factors was whether the location “upholds [the outdoor] industry’s core values around the importance of America’s public lands system.”

“This announcement establishes Colorado as the national home of the fast-growing outdoor recreation industry,” said Pete Maysmith, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado. “We are thrilled to host the Outdoor Retailer Show and use the opportunity to show off our epic public lands, our forward-thinking conservation policies, and the $28 billion contribution that outdoor recreation makes to our state’s economy. There’s no better place than Colorado for the outdoor recreation industry to convene twice a year. We thank Governor Hickenlooper, Mayor Hancock, Luis Benitez of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, and other leaders who stepped up for our lands and our state’s economy.”

In February 2017, when industry leaders announced that they were moving the show out of Utah due to the extreme anti-public lands stances of the state’s elected officials, Colorado launched an aggressive campaign to lure the show to Denver. One aspect of this campaign was advertisements that Conservation Colorado ran in the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News (seen to the right), communicating to the outdoor industry that Colorado has stronger beer, taller peaks, and higher recreation, but most importantly, a love for public lands.

 

“Today’s announcement confirms that the embrace of public lands is a winning combination for Colorado’s economy and way of life,” said Scott Braden, Wilderness and Public Lands Advocate at Conservation Colorado and member of Colorado’s Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry Advisory Council. “It is also a repudiation of extreme and short-sighted efforts by some politicians to seize and sell off our lands. While we hope that politicians in Utah have learned a lesson, unfortunately the desire to privatize or strip protections for our public lands has seeped into leadership in Washington, D.C. Politicians across the nation must know that public lands are critical infrastructure to our success and quality of life, and that any attempt to undo protections for them will be met with fierce resistance.”

Colorado has a storied history of investing in and protecting national, state, and local parks, monuments, forests, and other public lands. For example:

  • Colorado has 24 million acres of national public lands including four national parks, eight national monuments, and 44 wilderness areas.
  • Colorado was the first state in the nation to establish a state holiday day to celebrate public lands. The first-ever Colorado Public Lands Day was celebrated this May with more than 100 events and thousands of participants.
  • State legislators resoundingly defeated all eight attempts to pass land seizure bills in over the last five years.
  • In 1992, Colorado citizens passed a ballot initiative to send some lottery revenues to fund outdoors programs in the state. “Great Outdoors Colorado” has become a model for conservation funding across the nation.

The Trump administration has launched several attacks on Colorado’s public lands. These include:

  • Threatening to roll back protections for Canyons of the Ancients National Monument near Cortez.
  • Suspending public lands advisory councils.
  • Proposing to significantly slash the budget for managing our public lands.

Contacts:

Jessica Goad, Conservation Colorado, 720-206-4235

Mike Freeman, Earthjustice, 720-989-6896

Two of the state’s leading environmental advocacy groups today called upon Governor Hickenlooper to accept the court’s decision in Martinez v. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and not appeal the case. Governor Hickenlooper has until this Thursday, May 18 to decide whether to appeal the decision.

“Several bills that would have done a better job of protecting Colorado communities from oil and gas failed in the state Senate during this past legislative session,” said Pete Maysmith, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado. “Now, it’s up to the governor to take this opportunity to protect public health and the environment and do all that he can to prevent tragedies like Firestone. A critical way to achieve this is to ensure that the oil and gas commission fully utilizes all of the tools that it has been given to protect public health, safety, and welfare. One of these tools is a recent court decision that makes it clear that the agency does in fact have the ability and authority to protect Colorado communities from oil and gas drilling. In order to preserve this important tool, we urge Governor Hickenlooper to not appeal the Martinez decision.”

“All the Martinez decision says is that Colorado must protect public health, safety, and the environment when approving oil and gas development,” said Mike Freeman, Staff Attorney at the public interest law firm Earthjustice. “But the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has been telling Coloradans for years that it already does that. If the COGCC has been meeting its obligations to protect Coloradans the State should have no objection to the court’s ruling. By appealing the court ruling, the government and the COGCC would be making the case that public health and safety are not the commission’s top priority in managing oil and gas development.”

Background on the case:

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 it 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. The Court held 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 American Petroleum Institute, which has opposed the Martinez plaintiffs in the lawsuit, is expected to ask the Colorado Supreme Court to reverse the Court of Appeals decision. On May 1, the COGCC voted to join the American Petroleum Institute in challenging the court decision.

Contact: Jessica Goad, 720-206-4235

As the 2017 Colorado state legislative session comes to a close, Conservation Colorado celebrated seven victories but also lamented several important bills that were killed or left on the cutting room floor by the state Senate.

Pete Maysmith, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado, put it this way:
This year’s legislative session had several great, bipartisan wins for conservation issues. Conservation champions and legislators on both sides of the aisle stood up for our air, land, water, and communities, and we’re proud of the passage of meaningful and innovative bills to protect our environment.

 

But throughout the session, a group of obstructionist right-wing Republican senators repeatedly blocked progress by voting ideologically rather than for the needs of everyday Coloradans. Their opposition to simple, commonsense fixes to problems facing Colorado — such as giving citizens the opportunity to vote on a long-term sustainable funding to solve our transportation problems — should serve as a reminder about why voting matters.

Key victories that Conservation Colorado achieved were:

  • Extended a successful energy efficiency program (HB 1227)
  • Helped schools test for lead in their water (HB 1306)
  • Outlawed “rolling coal” (SB 278)
  • Defended tax credits for electric vehicles (SB 188)
  • Supported energy assistance to low-income households (HB 1116)
  • Secured funding for healthy rivers (HB 1248)
  • Prevented bills that would seize or sell off our public lands from being introduced

Despite the wins, several other environmental priorities were killed or stalled this session thanks to ideological opposition. These bills included:

  • Funding for the Colorado Energy Office and important clean energy programs, which Republicans held hostage in order to try to provide a windfall for natural gas companies (SB 301)
  • Improvements to transportation infrastructure and multimodal options (HB 1242)
  • Funding for our state parks (HB 1321)
  • Opening up new opportunities for investment in electric vehicle infrastructure (HB 1232)
  • Three measures to keep our communities safe from oil and gas drilling in neighborhoods:
    • Better protecting children from oil and gas wells located near schools (HB 1256)
    • Providing notice and transparency to property and mineral rights owners in the gas patch (HB 1372)
    • Securing mapping of and information about oil and gas lines, a critical necessity in the wake of the Firestone tragedy (HB 1336)

Conservation Colorado will be releasing its annual conservation scorecard with scores for legislators based on their environmental votes during the 2017 legislative session early this summer.

Contact: Jessica Goad, 720-206-4235

In a huge win for the environment and the “resistance” against the Trump agenda, the vote to move forward with repealing a rule protecting air quality from oil and gas development just failed in the U.S. Senate. However, Colorado Senator Gardner voted the wrong way.

Here is a reaction from Pete Maysmith, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado.

This is an incredible day for the environment and for citizens across the country who have been telling their members of Congress to vote for clean air. The vote should have been an easy one for the oil and gas lobby to win, but the power of citizen activism has broken through the political morass.

 

With that said, we are deeply disappointed in Senator Gardner’s vote. Despite more than 10,000 emails and calls from Coloradans and multiple protests at his offices on this issue, Senator Gardner managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by voting against Colorado’s clean air in what amounted to a futile vote for him.

 

It’s obvious from this vote that Senator Gardner is much more interested in joining the Washington, D.C. political club rather than representing the values of Coloradans. This is not the leadership that Colorado needs, and we will double down on our efforts to make sure that Coloradans of all stripes know what a threat Senator Gardner’s voting record poses to clean air and environment.

Senate Republicans today attempted to use a little-known procedure (the “Congressional Review Act”) to kill rules from previous presidential administrations. Today’s vote on the “motion to proceed” was 51-49, with Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Susan Collins (R-ME) and John McCain (R-AZ) joining all 48 Democrats in rejecting the resolution.

Senator Gardner has a 100% record of voting with Trump and has voted against the environment seven times already this year, the methane vote being the eighth.

The BLM’s methane waste prevention rule was modeled on Colorado’s successful 2014 methane rules. The federal rule was finalized in November 2016 after three years of public process that included eight public meetings held across the country and 300,000 public comments. The rule would minimize the amount of wasted natural gas resources from oil and gas facilities on public and tribal lands by requiring companies to look for and repair leaks, minimize flaring (burning) and prohibit venting of gas directly into the atmosphere. All told, the rule could save $330 million worth of natural gas each year, which would result in increased royalties paid to the federal treasury saving taxpayers more than $800 million over a decade.