Our Biggest Wins in 2017

By Audrey Wheeler

There’s no tiptoeing around it: 2017 was a tough year. From natural disasters to political fiascos, this year has been marked by tough news and divisiveness.

The People’s Climate March in Denver. Photo: Christian O’Rourke / www.orourkephotography.com

But we’re happy to say that we made progress for protecting Colorado’s land, air, water, and communities. We’re proud to celebrate the end of the year by looking back at some of our biggest wins for the environment.

In order to win even bigger next year, we need people like you to stay with the fight. Engage. Volunteer. Donate. Be active. Together we can build on all the successes of this year to make even greater impacts.

Thanks to you, we:

Fought for Our Public Lands

Community members celebrate Colorado Public Lands Day.
  • Celebrated the first-ever Colorado Public Lands Day, with 137 events across the state and more than 2,000 participants. Big names like Governor Hickenlooper, Senator Michael Bennet, and the Colorado-based band Elephant Revival spoke out in support of public lands.
  • Mobilized 12,800 of our members to speak up for Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, which saved the monument from the Trump administration’s attempt to shrink it.
  • Successfully influenced the Outdoor Retailer trade show to move to Denver. Our efforts helped show why Colorado has a better attitude toward protecting public lands than Utah, where the show was previously held until outdoor companies became fed up with Utah’s anti-public lands politicians.

Mobilized Action for Our Climate

  • Worked with Governor Hickenlooper to commit Colorado to fighting climate change! In July, Hickenlooper announced major steps to fight climate change, putting the state on track to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement and joining Colorado into the U.S. Climate Alliance.
  • Helped pass two bills in the Colorado Legislature that support low-income families with energy efficiency programs. These programs will save money for families and businesses while reducing air pollution.
  • Remember when Colorado got a bunch of money from a settlement with Volkswagen? Due to the testimony and comments from our members, Colorado’s plan to use that money is the best in the country for promoting electric vehicles and clean air!
Photo: Christian O’Rourke / www.orourkephotography.com
  • Led the People’s Climate March in Denver with over 5,000 participants, in spite of freezing temperatures and snow! Our team made sure that our march, which was in conjunction with 370 marches across the country, elevated diverse voices and values.
  • Stopped Congress from rolling back methane regulations on oil and gas activity, with 5,500 comments from our members and 25 op-eds from supporters in local news outlets.

Protected Our Water

  • Released the first-ever Rivers Report Card, which provides a clear picture of the threats to eight rivers in Colorado and focuses on solutions to protect them.
  • Helped pass a bill to provide schools with funding to test for lead in their drinking water. This proactive measure will pay off in terms of safeguarding our children’s health.
Photo: Jeff Turner https://www.flickr.com/photos/respres/3398626787

Stood up for Our Communities

  • Endorsed two environmental champions for seats in the Aurora City Council — and they both won! Crystal Murillo and Nicole Johnston will bring a much-needed focus on diversity and inclusivity to the Council, and will champion environmental issues.
  • Brought local voices to a public hearing for the Suncor oil refinery in central Denver on whether to increase the amount of pollution it is allowed to emit. The refinery is surrounded by neighborhoods that are primarily Latino and home to low-income families. We helped 30 community members testify at the hearing and gathered 750 written comments.
  • Graduated 48 Promotores, or Latino community members learning to organize and advocate for environmental concerns within their communities.
  • More than doubled our membership to over 36,000 members!

This was going to be a “top ten” list, but we had too many great wins to count! Thanks again for sticking with us in good times and in bad, and helping us make all these successes possible. We’ll be fighting just as hard in 2018, which will be a huge year for Colorado, not only because of the looming elections but also because of the many opportunities to protect the state we all love.

Although our conservation values are facing gridlock and animosity at the federal level, we’ve made it through tough political times before. And even though we’re up against wealthy interests, our power goes deeper than money: we’ve got people on our side.

Together, we will keep up the fight.

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