Contact: Jessica Goad, 720-206-4235

News is breaking that the tragic accident in Firestone, where two people were killed in a home explosion, was caused by natural gas leaking from a cut flow line.

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

The Firestone tragedy is the most recent– and heart-breaking– wake-up call that oil and gas exploration is a dangerous, heavy industrial activity that must be kept away from homes and schools. For years, communities across the state have raised concerns about the perils of siting homes and oil and gas facilities near each other, but these cries for change have fallen upon deaf ears. We have been left with empty promises from the oil and gas industry and tragedies such as this.

Our elected officials must act with great urgency to strengthen the rules and laws governing oil and gas drilling. This means taking any action necessary to put the burden of proof for showing that drilling is safe onto the industry, not onto concerned community members.

Moving forward, the COGCC must take decisive action and not allow any oil and gas activity unless it is proven to be safe to human health and our air and water. The fact that the commission is even considering appealing a court decision applying this standard is shocking.

A few items of interest regarding the state of play of oil and gas drilling in Colorado:
– In a case (Martinez v. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission) decided in mid-March, the Colorado Court of Appeals determined that protection of public health and the environment is “a condition that must be fulfilled” before the commission can issue permits. In its meeting yesterday, the commission noted that it is “still deciding whether to pursue an appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court.”
– The state Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, supported and encouraged by the oil and gas industry, recently voted down a simple, clarifying bill that would keep oil and gas well 1,000′ from school property, not just school buildings themselves.
– Oil and gas development is coming soon to even more suburban neighborhoods, as seen in maps of Adams and Arapahoe Counties.

Contact: 

Jessica Goad, Conservation Colorado, 720-206-4235
Kaili Lambe, People’s Climate of Colorado, 719-445-8332

Despite snow and cold, thousands of Coloradans who believe that climate change is real and that our elected officials must take immediate action to address it turned out to the People’s Climate March on Denver this morning.

Led by indigenous leaders and youth activists, the march highlighted the voices of communities most directly affected by climate change. The march was a collaborative effort of environmental, social, racial, and economic justice groups.

Credit: Philip Wegener Photo and Video

Marchers returning from the mile-long circuit formed into the shape of a thermometer with a line at 2 ℃, which represents the amount of average global temperature rise that the planet can tolerate before the most dangerous and destructive effects occur.

Speakers and performers after the march included Colorado State Representative Joe Salazar, spoken word artists, a representative of the labor community, a Naval Officer and national security expert, members of the American Indian Movement of Colorado, several youth leaders, and representatives from the groups in the steering committee.

“The science of climate change is irrefutable, as are the potential consequences of inaction,” said Leia Guccione, Veteran of Operation Free. “No single threat poses a greater or more enduring danger to both the safety of our men and women in uniform and our nation as a whole. Climate change makes our battles harder, demands for humanitarian relief more urgent, and our resilience at home weaker–we must take action now.”

“Service Employees International Union Local 105 members are joining thousands of working people taking to the streets for the People’s Climate March to build unity, fight for a clean economy, and to protect the environment for future generations,” said Tikdem Atsbaha, a janitor at Denver International Airport and mother of two. “Greedy corporations are continuously putting profits over people and the environment, as a union member and working mom, I can’t stand by and let them threaten the very air we breathe and water we drink.”

“This is about our future, said Tay Anderson, the Student Body President of Manual High School.” That’s why it’s so important that young people get engaged, get active, and vote.”

Cover image: Christian O’Rourke, O’Rouke Photography

Contact: Jessica Goad 720-206-4235

This evening the Colorado state Senate Finance Committee voted down HB-1242, a bipartisan transportation funding bill. In response, Pete Maysmith, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado, stated:

It is extremely disappointing that just three Senate Republicans stood against the very tenants of TABOR and refused to let the people of Colorado vote on whether to tax themselves to improve our crumbling transportation system.

Coloradans from across the state weighed in and said they wanted a way to fix our roads and bridges, build safer sidewalks and routes to schools, and  invest in infrastructure to move people, not just cars.

We are committed to working with Senate and House leadership to continue to find solutions that allow Colorado to be prepared for future growth and changes. We thank Senator Grantham and Representative Duran for their tremendous efforts.

Contact: Jessica Goad, 720-206-4235

The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting this morning that President Trump is expected to sign an Executive Order on Wednesday that would require a “review” of national parks and monuments that have been protected by presidents using executive action under the Antiquities Act since 1996. This review could result in parks and monuments being shrunk or completely losing protections.

In Colorado, this means that three national monuments are in the crosshairs: Browns Canyon near Salida (designated in 2015), Chimney Rock near Pagosa Springs (designated in 2012), and Canyons of the Ancients near Cortez (designated in 2000).

Scott Braden, Wilderness and Public Lands Advocate at Conservation Colorado, made the following statement:

With this review, the Trump administration has launched an attack on Colorado’s heritage and the iconic public lands that are critical to our economy and way of life. The fact that federal bureaucrats are attempting to overturn protections for our lands is deeply offensive to those of us who live in the Colorado and the West.

More details:
– No president has ever attempted to revoke a national monument and legal scholars believe it is illegal.
– Coloradans are strongly supportive of presidents’ abilities to create new national parks and monuments. One poll found that 82 percent of Coloradans believe protections for parks and monuments should be kept in place rather than revoked.
– Regions surrounding national monuments have seen continued growth in employment, personal income, and increased per capita income.
Scott Braden is available for TV, radio, and print interviews today and throughout the week.

Contacts:
Elizabeth Whitehead, Children’s Hospital Colorado, 303-775-6601
Mike Wetzel, Colorado Education Association, MWetzel@coloradoea.org
Brian Turner, Colorado Public Health Association, 303-257-7142
Jessica Goad, Conservation Colorado, 720-206-4235, jessica@conservationco.org

The Colorado House Education Committee is taking testimony this afternoon on HB 1306, a bill that would provide funds for Colorado schools to voluntarily test for lead in their drinking water. Just seven of Colorado’s 178 school districts have tested their water for lead, and in these districts, 77 schools were found to have lead in their water.

“Lead in drinking water is extremely damaging to health, especially in young children, and research shows that there is no safe level for lead exposure,” said Daniel Nicklas, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Colorado. “We must take every precaution to prevent children from consuming lead, and that starts with providing schools with the tools they need to take the first step.”

“School district budgets are in crisis across the state with the ongoing cut to schools known as the Negative Factor expected to increase in the coming school year” said Kerrie Dallman, president of the Colorado Education Association. “Rural school districts are struggling to keep teachers, so we certainly cannot expect them to divert precious resources away from the classroom to test drinking water. This bill provides necessary funding to give schools the help they need to ensure the health and safety of students.”

“From a public health perspective, lead poisoning can affect children throughout their whole lives and create impacts on the whole community,” said Brian Turner, MPH, President of the Colorado Public Health Association. “We must empower schools with tools to keep kids safe and ensure that they live healthy and fulfilled lives.”

“A safe environment should be the right of every child,” said Kristin Green, Water Advocate at Conservation Colorado. “Unfortunately, lead poisoning remains a problem in our state and across the country. It is our obligation to make sure that every kid is drinking clean water. This bill is an important move in the right direction.”

HB 1306 is co-sponsored by Reps. Barbara McLachlan and Tony Exum. Funding will come from an existing water quality improvement fund. It prioritizes testing for older schools and for schools with younger children. Schools that discover lead in their drinking water have several routes for securing more funding to mitigate the issue.

Senate President Kevin Grantham and House Speaker Crisanta Duran this evening announced H.B. 1242, a bill to fund transportation in Colorado. Pete Maysmith, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado, stated:

We are pleased to see Speaker Duran and President Grantham working together to develop legislation to address our long-standing transportation needs. While we’re still analyzing the details of the bill, we are encouraged by the significant amount of dedicated funding to multimodal transportation as well as provisions giving local governments the freedom and choice to spend money on these options.

As the second-fastest growing state in the nation, we must invest in modern transportation options, especially those that are designed to move people, not just cars. Coloradans across the state deserve a transportation system that reflects the future.

More information about multimodal options:

  • Dozens of local officials, from both sides of the aisle and from rural and urban communities, sent a letter to leadership last week urging “significant dedicated funding for multimodal transportation options.”
  • Multimodal options are critical to generating the public support needed to pass a measure should it come before voters. Recent polling from the Colorado Contractors Association found that more than 70 percent of voters say they are more likely to support a measure when told that it includes funding dedicated to multimodal options.
  • Multimodal options are severely underfunded (a recent study found Colorado is ranked 29th among states in per capita funding for transit, investing just one-twentieth of the national average).

Contact: Jessica Goad, 720-206-4235

Conservation Colorado this morning announced a campaign to bring the Outdoor Retailer show to Denver after the show’s contract with Salt Lake City expires in the summer of 2018.

The organization will be urging decision-makers in the outdoor industry to choose Colorado as the new location for the show based on the state’s long record of investing in and protecting national parks, monuments, forests, and other public lands.

The campaign will kick off with paid advertisements in the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News touting the assets that Colorado offers when compared to Utah, including stronger beer, taller peaks, “higher” recreation, and, most importantly, a deep commitment to public lands.

“There’s no better place than Colorado when it comes to protection and stewardship of our public lands,” said Pete Maysmith, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado. “From embracing our newest national monuments, to being the first state to establish a holiday to celebrate our lands, to soundly defeating eight bills in our state legislature that would have turned our lands over to private interests, we fully recognize the myriad benefits that public lands bring to our state and to the nation.”

The Outdoor Retailer show brings $45 million to Utah in direct spending each year, and its leaders announced last week that they are “exploring location options” beyond Salt Lake City in part due to the state of Utah’s continued antagonism towards and attacks onAmerica’s public lands. The industry recently noted that an important consideration in choosing the new location of the show will be whether it “upholds our industry’s core values around the importance of America’s public lands system.”

In addition to the advertisements, Conservation Colorado’s campaign will also include working with outdoor businesses and tourism associations to make the case for Colorado as the new location for the Outdoor Retailer show, as well as digital media advertising to key decision-makers.

Contact: Jessica Goad, 720-206-4235

In response to the news that President Donald Trump is intending to sign executive orders to build a border wall with Mexico, ban some refugees to the U.S., and punish “sanctuary cities” like Denver, Conservation Colorado Executive Director Pete Maysmith released the following statement:

As an organization that does significant organizing with Latino and immigrant communities, we see firsthand how these sorts of extreme policies would impact people across the board and hurt our neighbors, friends, and colleagues. We are appalled by these announcements, which are immoral and contrary to our American values.

These policies will also have major impacts on the environment, including the border wall’s destruction of one of the most unique habitats and important wildlife corridors in the American Southwest.

Our America is better than this, and Conservation Colorado pledges to stand with all people of Colorado as we fight for a better environment and future for our families. We call on the president to reconsider these policies that will hurt so many among us, and call on Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet to stand up for Colorado families rather than ideological and hateful rhetoric that hurts and degrades our communities.

Contact: Jessica Goad, 720-206-4235

As the 2017 legislative session kicks off today, Conservation Colorado, a 22,000-member-strong environmental organization, outlined its key priorities for the session.

“We’re feeling positive and optimistic about this year’s session, and look forward to making progress with supporters on both sides of the aisle to protect what we love about Colorado: our way of life,” said Pete Maysmith, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado. “The election hasn’t changed what we plan to do here, and no matter who’s in charge in Washington, D.C., we must clean up our air, conserve our water, protect our lands, and ensure that every person in Colorado lives in a healthy environment.”

Specifically, Conservation Colorado has four key legislative priorities:

Chart our own path forward and create clean energy jobs.

  • Ensure we have the cleanest air in the nation and a thriving cleantech sector.
  • Help communities in rural Colorado become economically diversified, especially those that have been historically dependent on natural resource extraction.
  • Defend against attacks from the legislature, such as last year’s ill-fated effort to gut the budget of the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment or attempts to turn our national public lands over to the state or private interests.

Plan for the future, particularly with regard to transportation and growth.

  • Advocate for investments in public transit, walking, and biking options.
  • Build upon the work the legislature did last year to make Colorado the best state in the nation to buy an electric vehicle. Now we must make sure that we’re the best state in which to drive one.

Protect the health of our children.

  • Ensure that oil and gas infrastructure does not encroach on our communities.
  • Make more progress on clean air and renewable energy, considering that children are one of the most susceptible populations to air pollution.

Incentivize the sustainable use of our resources and work to prevent waste and pollution.

  • Implement policies that help conserve precious water resources.
  • Promote solutions for saving energy.

“Importantly, the anti-conservation, anti-enforcement agenda did not win here in Colorado,” Maysmith continued, “as seen in the fact that pro-environment candidates won down our state ballot. Citizens in our state value a healthy environment and the Colorado way of life, and we will fight to turn those values into real change this session.”