Why Colorado’s Legislative Session Matters for Conservation

By Audrey Wheeler

January 10, 2018 marks the start of Colorado’s legislative session. And for the next four months, we’ll need to work together to determine our path forward to protect our air, water, public lands, and communities.

We are facing a turning point for our environment. As attacks come down from the federal level, the choices our lawmakers make today will determine whether we will take the lead or fall behind. We can influence those choices — and we must — if we want to protect our way of life.

Over the last 50 years, Conservation Colorado and our members have helped pass hundreds of pieces of legislation at the state Capitol. Starting today, we will spend the next four months working with legislators to support proactive legislation for conservation and to defeat bills that are bad for our future. You — our members & supporters— are the power behind these efforts. By joining us and raising your voice on the issues you care about during the legislative session, you can be a crucial part of our success.

This year we have two major priorities: protecting our communities from unchecked industries and preparing for Colorado’s growth. Not only are these some of the most pressing issues facing our state today, but they are also opportunities to make meaningful policy changes.

What do these priorities mean? Let’s take a closer look.

Protecting Our Communities

Colorado’s industries have a responsibility to clean up after themselves and conduct business without harming our neighborhoods or our health. We are working to make sure that industry in Colorado operates responsibly. We will fight to:

Put in place safeguards that promote health and safety for communities affected by oil and gas operations.

  • Oil and gas development continues to encroach on our neighborhoods. It’s important that the state steps in to make sure development is not done at the expense of the health and welfare of our communities. We’ve seen time and again that the oil and gas industry will use its lobbying power at the Capitol to protect itself, not Coloradans.

Address the root causes of climate change.

  • With recent events such as a 30-year-low for snowpack, increasing wildfires, and reduced air quality, we need to get serious about addressing our changing climate. It’s up to the state to take action to reduce carbon pollution in all sectors of our economy, from transportation to energy generation.
Mining runoff in Southwest Colorado. Photo: Beau Kiklis

Update our mining policy to protect taxpayers and water quality while preventing future disasters.

  • We all remember the Gold King Mine spill that poured over 3 million gallons of acid sludge into the Animas River and turned it a rusty shade of orange two years ago. We’ll be aiming to set up protective measures for mine permits that will protect our drinking water from toxic pollution.

Preparing for Colorado’s Growth

As our state population booms, we continue to face growing pains like higher energy consumption, congested roads, and increased pollution. We’re fighting for forward-thinking solutions to those challenges that are good for our people and our environment. This year we’re working to:

Make our transportation system cleaner, more efficient, and accessible for all Coloradans.

  • Our expanding population means that traffic and air pollution are expected to get worse unless we focus on making electric vehicles and public transit more readily available and affordable for everyone.

Increase the use of renewable energy with a focus on reducing the disproportionate impacts that air pollution from energy production has on communities of color in Colorado.

  • Clean energy like wind and solar is increasingly cheaper than coal. It can create jobs and cut air pollution while saving money for families and businesses.

Protect our state’s outdoors so every family can get outside and so our unparalleled wild places are conserved as our population expands.

  • Colorado is known for its outdoors — we need to promote and also conserve these outdoor places so future generations can enjoy the same quality of life.

Secure funding for sustainable solutions to address the increasing demands on our water.

  • Water is at the core of Colorado’s economy and identity, but because we live in a semi-arid state, we need to conserve this limited resource.

As the state legislature convenes, we’ll be supporting bills that advance these priorities and are good for our air, land, water, and communities. Once the session is over, we’ll release our annual Scorecard to report how legislators voted on key issues and to share our conservation wins.

Even in a tough time for our environment, we can make huge progress at the state level! Will you help us jump-start this legislative session by reminding your legislators to prioritize these important issues? Click here to take action!

Like this story? Learn more about the key environmental issues in Colorado at ConservationCO.org.