Dirty Fuels

As a state, Colorado bears a large burden of providing fossil fuel resources such as coal and natural gas to the rest of the country. Some of the areas being developed for their energy resources are among the last pristine landscapes in the region. Home to spectacular scenery, important wildlife habitat and unparalleled recreational opportunities these areas are economic drivers to many communities. Increasingly, Colorado is also seeing unprecedented levels of energy development on the Front Range near densely populated communities. Energy exploration across the state continues at an incredible pace, Conservation Colorado works to make sure that development is balanced with the importance of protecting our land, air, water, wildlife, and communities.

We work to make sure that fossil fuel extraction like oil and gas drilling, coal mining, oil shale development, and uranium mining are not taking place in areas too near homes and schools or in areas such as proposed wilderness and vital wildlife habitat. Our work also focuses on ensuring that the best management practices and policies are in place at a local, regional, and state level for when extractive industries are operating.

Drilling and fracking

For decades, conservation groups have fought to protect Colorado’s natural heritage from accelerating oil and gas development. We backed the nation’s most comprehensive oil and gas drilling rules and stood up for the right of citizens to know what chemicals are pumped into the ground and the air we breath. Now, as drilling and fracking technologies bring oil and gas operations closer to our homes, parks, schools, and neighborhoods, we are working to ensure that our communities are not turned into zones for heavy industry. We are building a strong statewide movement to protect our communities, and we welcome your help!

Oil Shale

Underneath Colorado’s Piceance Basin in Western Colorado lies 1.2 to 1.8 trillion barrels of oil in tightly compact deposits of solid rock. For over 100 years hardscrabble wildcatters to large oil companies have tried to figure a way to mine the oil deposits.  All attempts to extract shale oil have caused extensive impacts to western Colorado’s water, wildlife and quality of life. Our efforts have focused on limiting oil shale development and supporting western Colorado landscapes, water, and communities which could be severely impacted by the highly hyped but technologically impossible-to-extract oil shale.


For decades coal has offered a plentiful, potent, and cheap source of power for Colorado and many other states. Today, it meets two-thirds of our electricity needs, but it’s also incredibly dirty, even with technologies to clean up the combustion process. When we burn coal we see results like Denver’s infamous Brown Cloud, dangerous ground-level ozone, and airborne mercury (a potent neurotoxin). The costs to public health are enormous- over 65,000 children in the Denver metro area alone suffer from asthma. Coal-powered generation is also our nation’s primary source of global warming pollution. Any serious effort to confront the climate change challenges we face must begin today with phasing out coal.

Uranium Mining

Colorado has a long history with uranium mining, over the last 85 years communities in Colorado have struggled with the excitement of mining booms and with the complications of unexplained health conditions, unreclaimed mines, and superfund sites that follow. From rural communities near the town of Uravan in the Dolores river basin to the front range where proposals to mine uranium through experimental technology uranium mining brings a host of questions for our communities.  Concerns include human health risks from exposure to cancer-causing uranium dust, air and water quality impacts, long term contamination due to a lack of permanent disposal options and risks to wildlife.