Colorado, the nation, and the world are facing the dire reality that climate change is having real and devastating impacts on our planet. Our state has seen years of prolonged drought, catastrophic forest fires, epic flooding, and unpredictable snowfall, and climate change is having an unprecedented impact on our outdoor recreation and tourism economies. Additionally, climate change and air pollution of all types more highly impact those who can least afford it, most specifically communities of color.
According to the recent IPCC report, scientists suggested that we must cut our carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 and 100% by 2050 (carbon neutral) to ensure a sustainable future. This is a goal that every responsible citizen should keep in mind and fight for. Unfortunately, the federal government is currently led by climate change deniers, so it’s up to the state and local governments to take the lead. As activists, it’s our duty to ensure that Colorado will take the lead, together with other blue and purple states in this country.
The five largest emitting sectors in Colorado are electricity, transportation, residential heating and cooling, industrial process, and oil and gas development. We need sector specific policies to reduce emissions, as well as a carbon emission cap consistent with the IPCC recommendation. Economists have a strong consensus on this - at a similar level as the consensus reached by scientists on anthropogenic climate change - we must put a price on carbon emissions to bring in a fast and just transition to a clean energy future.
What we need to do:
- Support a price on carbon in Colorado in 2019 and a nation wide price on carbon in 2021.
- Support sector specific policies that will reduce carbon emissions:
- Electricity generation
- Ensure that Xcel will stay with its current stated emission goal; encourage Black Hills Energy and other electricity providers to do the same or more.
- Ask Polis’s Admin to get to 100% renewable electricity sooner than 2040.
- Support Low Emission Vehicle and Zero Emission Vehicle standards.
- Support the electrification of 100% of the transportation sector by 2050.
- Quickly build up and expand electric car charging network.
- Advocate for policies with a focus on the transportation of people, not cars.
- Residential heating and cooling:
- Support better building codes with higher efficiency standards.
- Support policies and incentives to electrifying residential heating and cooling.
- Consider the implications of residential density on climate: higher density means lower per capita energy footprint, better land use, and better public transit.
- Electricity generation
Oil and Gas Development
Oil and natural gas have significant impacts on our environment, including methane and carbon pollution, air and ozone pollution, surface and groundwater contamination, and habitat fragmentation. It’s particularly dangerous to develop near Superfund sites, homes, schools, water sources, wildlife habitat, and sensitive public lands.
What we need to do:
- Ensure that oil and gas development is prohibited on, under, or near any Superfund sites (Colorado has 20+, including Rocky Flats (Jefferson) and Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams)).
- Ensure that oil and gas development is prohibited near homes, schools, water sources, wildlife habitat, and sensitive public lands; Increase setbacks.
- Enforce more stringent leak detection, reporting and make the industry liable to adverse health and safety impacts.
- Redefine the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission to put a priority on public health and safety.
- Institute a 9-month moratorium on O&G drilling permits until the health and safety impacts can be better understood.
- Support local control to increase regulations over gas and oil development.
- Modifications to Forced Pooling Law.
- Make the industry take the financial responsibility with better systems of bonding and financial assurance so that the state is not left footing the bill for damages created by oil and gas development.
- Increase in Severance Tax to offset the downstream costs to communities for maintenance and mitigation of abandoned wells.
- Enforce methane gas leak detection and capture during extraction and transportation.
- Ensure that low income and color communities are not adversely affected during the transition.
Public Land, Water, Air and Wildlife
Colorado’s population is projected to grow by 50% by 2050. The population increase, together with gas and oil extraction activities, changing climate, pollution, overuse, growth of tourism and traditional management approaches are putting stress on our public land, water, air and wildlife habitat. Further, the ongoing federal deregulation that guts the Endangered Species Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and public land protection is threatening the economy of Colorado, our health and our lifestyle.
What we need to do:
- Support Governor Polis’s Clean Water Plan: set water conservation goals, protect clean water, stop unnecessary water diversion.
- Stop Denver Water’s Gross Reservoir Expansion project.
- Advocate for administrative protection of our public lands.
- Advocate for expansion and protection of our state lands.
- Stop the environmental destruction at the federal level:
- Protest the elimination of Offshore and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge bans.
- Protest the gutting of Endangered Species Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and public land protection.
- Protect the funding and authority of EPA.
With so much at stake, it’s essential that each and every one of us will take action.
Take actions per Indivisible 2.0:
- Join Facebook group Indivisible Colorado Environment where we organize for environmental actions
- Call or meet with Cory Gardner or Michael Bennet - oppose the worst Cabinet nominees from an environmental perspective.
- Call or meet with Cory Gardner or Michael Bennet - oppose some of the worst federal legislation or regulation
- Call or meet with federal Members of Congress to support Messaging Bills related to climate crisis or environmental protection
- Call, email or meet with the Colorado administration including Governor Polis, Will Toor (the new Energy Director), state House members and state Senators to express your support for environmental protection and climate crisis legislation.
- Testify at the State Legislature when legislation is being considered. Write citizen’s testimony during public feedback periods for regulation changes or for big projects.
- Write Letters To Editors to local newspapers.
- Join Womxn’s March, Science March and Climate March with pro-environmental signs.
- Provide social media amplification of environmental issues using consistent framing – Climate Crisis, Health and Safety risk of fossil fuel development
- Sign up for a rapid response team - to quickly respond to fracking projects or other threats
Join advocacy groups:
- Join and/or support the following advocacy groups:
- Conservation Colorado - Colorado environmental policy advocacy group
- Sierra Club - National environmental group
- Citizens Climate Lobby - National Carbon tax and dividend advocacy group
- Protect Our Winters - National climate policy advocacy group focusing on winter sports community
- Climate Reality Project - Al Gore's climate leadership training group
- Join and/or support the following grassroots activists groups:
- Support the following environmental non-profits: