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Joey BunchJoey BunchNovember 10, 20175min6140

Conservation Colorado is this juggernaut green organization that gives state and national candidates the heebie-jeebies in the West’s political wilds. Last year, 54 of the 60 candidates it endorsed went on to win.

And whenever legislation affecting the environment, large or small, is debated at the Capitol in Denver, Conservation Colorado is there in big ways and small.

But this year Conservation Colorado made its first municipal-level endorsements in Aurora Wards I and II.

Michal Rosenoer, the organization’s Front Range field manager, and her organization also helped campaign for Crystal Murillo and Nicole Johnston, too.

“This election is also an important triumph of progressive values and people-power over oil and gas-backed interests,” Rosenoer said. “Despite industry front group Vital for Colorado investing hundreds of thousands of dollars on these and other local races at the eleventh hour, voters ultimately picked candidates who pledged to stand up for our right to clean air, open spaces, and healthy communities.”

She also said, “Crystal and Nicole will bring a much-needed focus on diversity and inclusivity to the Aurora City Council, and will be champions on issues including oil and gas, transportation, growth, and social and environmental justice.”

The day after the election, however, Rosenoer, the Front Range leader, was tweeting about what was going down on the Western Slope the day before the election.

A protest over methane gas in Durango clearly warmed the spirits of the state’s largest environmental organization, which seems to have a lot of fires on a lot of fronts these days. (Donald Trump is good for business, if you make being your business.)

The Durango Herald’s Jonathan Romero reported that about 100 people gathered in a Durango park to raise a ruckus over Trump’s rollback of bipartisan rules passed last year to prevent methane leaks from oil and gas wells on public lands controlled by the Bureau of Land Management.

“Without this rule our county could face terrible health impacts,” Kellie Pettyjohn, a local farmer, told the Herald. “We don’t want this one-year delay. We want this rule in place.”

Based on rules first adopted in Colorado, the BLM methane rule would affect more than 100,000 wells that Romero reports can release up to 180,000 tons of methane annual a year. Moreover that’s methane that could be captured and sold to bring in additional money for schools and other public projects.

Conservation Colorado was all over the local activism.

Lisa Pool, Conservation Colorado’s field organizer for Durango, told us more:

“It was remarkable to see how well the protest was attended and how passionate people were about the subject,” she told Colorado Politics. “Here in Durango we suffer from a cloud of methane pollution, so the issue is visceral for people. They were infuriated not only by the proposed delay, but also by how limited the public is allowed to be engaged by the process. Protestors of all ages were fired up and chanting throughout.”

The organization Thursday announced it’s promoting communications director Jessica Goad to deputy director, where she’ll “work more directly on elections, campaigns, building the team, and helping hire a new executive director.” Pete Maysmith stepped down as the organization’s leader last month to take on a national role with the League of Conservation Voters.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyAugust 24, 20173min9390

The crowded race for Aurora City Council could turn into a real barn-burner with the attention it’s drawing — especially from progressive groups.

We told you last week about progressive group Colorado People’s Action throwing its support behind four candidates for council, promising to canvass neighborhoods in an effort to increase turnout.

Well, now the state’s largest environmental group, Conservation Colorado, has endorsed two candidates for the traditionally conservative-leaning city council. The group has endorsed Crystal Murillo in Ward 1 and Nicole Johnston in Ward 2 for the council. There are 26 candidates vying for five seats on the council.

“We were impressed by their commitment to protecting Aurora from pollution, their desire to ensure that growth is reflective of community needs, and their passion for creating a more inclusive government in Aurora,” spokesperson Jessica Goad said in an email to Colorado Politics.

While the Denver-based group has in the past prioritized state legislative and statewide races, with an occasional county commission race thrown in the mix, Conservation Colorado endorsed candidates for municipal office for the first time this election cycle, Goad said. Last year, the group spent $1.3 million on state legislative races.

As the third-largest city in the state, Aurora drew the group’s eye because of its ethnically-and racially-diverse populace and hopes to help elect candidates that can influence city policy on environmental issues like oil, gas and public transportation.

“We are planning to knock doors, make phone calls, and hit the pavement to help these candidates win,” she said.

The group already organizes in Aurora, through its Protégete program, a joint Conservation Colorado and League of Conservation Voters program which seeks to “elevate Latino voices.”
Though the seats on the City Council are non-partisan, Aurora City Council is known for its conservative leanings. A Westword report in 2015 detailed Aurora as among the 10 most conservative cities in the country.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 12, 20177min1490

How’s that again? Republicans were the original environmentalists? Conservatives — particularly in the West — should find it easy being green? That’s what John Andrews seems to be telling us.

And when Andrews talks, Colorado’s Republicans and conservatives tend to listen. The former state Senate president, onetime presidential speechwriter, serial think-tank founder and all-around political and moral compass for the Centennial State’s right commands broad respect. All the way across the philosophical spectrum, in fact.

Which is probably why he is the point-man helping spread the word about a new group — dare we call it an environmental group? — that hails from, yes, the right side of the political fence. A mass-email from Andrews today introduces us to The Western Way, which bills itself as a movement of “Conservative stewards of the western environment.”

Writes Andrews in his e-missive:

As Westerners who love liberty, limited government, and the land, it’s high time we stop letting the bicoastal progressives claim heartland conservatives and the GOP want to despoil the environment. What lot of bovine scatology.

Conservatives don’t care about the earth? Please. No one cares more about conserving America’s natural and spiritual heritage than we do.

…throughout our country’s history conservatives have been leaders in preserving natural lands and creating policies that benefit the economy and the environment in equal measure.

Hence, Western Way. Its leadership, membership and even headquarters aren’t yet clear from the group’s slick-but-seemingly-startup-phase website. No contact info; just a page where you can sign up for email newsletters.

However, its core message is straightforward — and represents what many might regard as a breathtaking departure from prevailing conservative orthodoxy on environmental issues.

Consider:

An honest read of the facts and data demonstrates that there are serious problems with our climate and environment.  That is not a political or philosophical statement, it is the only conclusion one can reach based on facts and science.  It is not the role of conservatives to understate the problem in order to balance out extreme interests exaggerating the problem.   Conservatives must fly above the fray and be honest in defining the problems and solutions.

And:

…The evidence for human-caused climate change has converged from multiple lines of evidence, been vetted by skeptical reviews, and presents a consistent and cohesive view. No critical theory or invocation of “natural variability” can claim the same….

Another challenge to conventional wisdom is the group’s premise that conservatives must take back an environmental movement that was originally theirs:

Conservatives have led the most significant conservation efforts in the western United States and yet extreme interests have recently created the false narrative that conservatives do not value the environment.

Conservatives must reclaim leadership on this critical issue by identifying the real environmental and conservation challenges facing our country and driving the most efficient solutions to those challenges.

The website recaps landmark environmental policies by Republican presidents including that champion of public lands, Teddy Roosevelt, as well as Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Is the proposed new face of conservatism at least in part a reaction to the Trump administration’s more blunt approach to rolling back environmental regulations of the Obama administration — and the fierce push-back it’s getting from Democrats and environmentalists? That does seem to figure in, to hear Andrews:

…if we tense up, retreat behind polarized arguments, and let others define the debate, we’re left without a seat at the table. Classic self-sabotage. Enough of that!

The dramatically changed political landscape of 2017 offers a perfect opportunity for Republicans and the center-right to start being environmentally proactive again and advance constructive, conservative solutions.

We’ll have to stay tuned as Western Way’s agenda for action develops, and we figure out exactly what kind of role the new movement will play.

Pending that, we reached out to the more conventional (re: left-of-center) environmental movement for its assessment of what Western Way seems to represent. There wasn’t a trace of snark or even skepticism in a reply from Jessica Goad, communications director for Conservation Colorado. She actually welcomed the development.

“We’ve long made the case that Westerners from across the political spectrum care about issues like creating clean-energy jobs, cleaning up our air and protecting our parks and public lands. From our perspective, more groups coming to the table to work together to protect what makes Colorado great is important and beneficial.”

 


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John TomasicJohn TomasicApril 19, 20175min85

Colorado lawmakers are inching toward outlawing “coal rolling,” the practice of adjusting the workings of a diesel truck in order to let loose at will clouds of unfiltered exhaust as a form of cultural protest in an age of electric cars and climate change. The state Senate voted on Wednesday to pass a revised version of a bill that would make rolling coal a traffic infraction and subject drivers to a $100 fine.


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Mike McKibbinMike McKibbinFebruary 20, 20177min67

One of Colorado's U.S. Senators is strongly opposed to a measure that would roll back an Obama administration rule to prevent the flaring and wasting of methane and natural gas developed on public and tribal lands, while the second is undecided. The rule was among several environmental regulations issued in the last days of the Obama administration. The U.S. House invoked the rarely used Congressional Review Act to reverse the rule. Colorado Republican U.S. Reps. Scott Tipton, Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn and Mike Coffman voted for House Joint Resolution 36 to repeal the rule on Feb. 3, while Democratic U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette, Ed Perlmutter and Jared Polis voted to keep the rule in place. The measure passed by a 221-191 tally. It had yet to have its first Senate committee hearing.


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John TomasicJohn TomasicFebruary 3, 20174min750

Frustrated Coloradans have been <a href="https://durangoherald.com/articles/131466-frustrated-residents-seek-response-from-sen-cory-gardner" target="_blank">complaining</a> since Inauguration Day that Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner won't answer their calls or return email messages. They have called to complain about President Donald Trump's cabinet nominations and executive orders. They're worried about environmental and civil rights proposals. They want to know where Gardner stands and why he stands where he stands. The list of concerns is growing longer not shorter. And a new round of phone calls is set to begin.


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John TomasicJohn TomasicJanuary 25, 20176min840

Leaked Trump administration orders to freeze outside spending and employee public communication at the Environmental Protection Agency has left state officials, agency contract workers, and members of environmental groups to speculate on the administration’s full plans for the EPA and what effect those plans might have on the ground in Colorado, where some $200 million in grants and contracts are being fulfilled, including $6.4 million in fiscal year 2017 grants to Colorado businesses. “We received notice today that the team from the new administration asked the EPA to temporarily suspend grant and contract awards. The communication was ambiguous and did not explain the duration or scope of the freeze,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper in a release issued Tuesday afternoon. “This freeze could potentially impact the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s ability to carry out its federally mandated commitment to protect clean air, clean water and safe drinking water. We have sought clarification from the EPA and have asked for assistance from Senators Gardner and Bennet.”


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David O. WilliamsDavid O. WilliamsOctober 17, 201615min106

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, showing clear signs his race for CD3 has tightened in recent weeks, continues to aggressively call out former state Sen. Gail Schwartz for her comments and ads accusing Tipton of seeking to sell off federally owned public lands. Schwartz charges Tipton has sold out to coal mining and oil and gas companies and wants to transfer public lands to state or private ownership in order to increase domestic fossil fuel production. Schwartz, a Crested Butte Democrat who previously worked in ski-area design, favors preserving public lands to boost the outdoor recreation industry. “If we’re talking about outdoor recreation and protecting those public lands, let’s look at the Hermosa Creek bill that I had signed into law, that we were able to pass through a Republican-controlled Congress to be able to create those opportunities down in La Plata County,” Tipton said on a press call last month.