Adam McCoyAdam McCoyOctober 13, 20172min715

Sending a “strong signal that innovative and sustained climate leadership is a priority in Colorado,” the state and a climate change action advocacy group will co-host a series of forums this winter focusing on climate preparedness and clean energy development.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, dozens of elected state and local officials and business leaders will take part in the Colorado Communities Symposium — a series of plenary sessions, training events and roundtable discussions, workshops, networking events and an awards dinner — held Jan. 31 to Feb. 2 in Aurora.

“Communities across Colorado, from Durango to Wray, are proving that the clean energy transition can benefit every Coloradan,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a press statement Wednesday. “Through this symposium, the state will support locally-led climate and sustainability efforts by providing a forum for local government officials to build capacity and share best practices for with each other.”

The conference’s agenda will be steered by a committee headed by former Gov. Bill Ritter and Colorado State University’s Brad Udall among other state leaders.

The forum will piggyback on Hickenlooper’s climate executive order announced over the summer which promised Colorado would join the U.S. Climate Alliance and would meet its climate goals despite the White House’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords. The executive order signed by Hickenlooper sets a goal of reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions from 2012 levels by 26 percent by 2025 and by 35 percent by 2030.

“It is critical that state and local governments come together, align efforts and substantially scale up their capacity to drive successful climate change strategies if we want to ensure security and continued prosperity for our businesses and communities,” said Daniel Kreeger, executive director of the Association of Climate Change Officers. “We are honored to partner with Governor Hickenlooper’s administration and Colorado local government leaders to administer this vital forum.”


Joey BunchJoey BunchAugust 17, 20175min391

Why can’t more political activism be like this?

Wednesday, Gov. John Hickenlooper was heard from quite possibly the state’s shortest lobbyists, more than two dozen kids assembled by the group Colorado Moms Know Best to thank him for supporting clean-air programs.

They cited, most recently, his executive order in May to keep Colorado in step with goals of the Paris climate accord, as President Trump pulled the nation out of the voluntary global pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

And they gave the governor a singing telegram. Are you ready for this? Here are the words to “This Air is Your Air,” respect to Woody Guthrie.

This Air is your Air
This Air is my Air
We need to take care
Reduce our Carbon Footprint
Wind and Solar Power
Is all around us
This air is shared by you and me

This State is your State
This State is my State
From the Rockies and Basins
To the Mesas beyond them
For being a leader
Clean Energy and air for you and me!

A professional telegram singer, Randi Sunshine (that’s her real name), in a sun costume, signifying renewable energy, lead the chorus for clean-air.

According to an account of what happened from the organization, “head mom” Jen Clanahan gave the governor a basket of candy.

“As moms, rewarding good behavior with treats comes naturally to us,” she said in a statement. “Our number one concern is our children so we do everything in our power to ensure the best environment for our kids, whether that’s the school they go to, their safety or the very air they breathe.”

Colorado Moms
Jen Clanahan, head mom at Colorado Moms Know Best, talks with Gov. John Hickenlooper at the Capitol Wednesday afternoon. (Photo courtesy of Colorado Moms Know Best)

The moms noted that the American Lung Association’s most recent
“State of the Air Report” flunked 10 Colorado counties, particularly in metro Denver.

“Pollution leads to respiratory and other ailments, and children are one of the groups most at risk of the impacts of poor air quality,” the organization said in a release. “That means hundreds of thousands of children live every day in dirty air that threatens their health.

Through phone calls, letters and petitions Colorado Moms has has pushed the climate change issue at the Capitol, even creating a climate change adopted by the Girl Scouts of Colorado. The life-sized statue of horse in the lobby of the Governor’s Office, the Moms did that.

“The stakes are too high and we can’t do it all alone so we count on our elected officials to protect public health,” Clanahan said. “Gov. Hickenlooper’s actions show that he is serious about his declaration that Colorado should have the cleanest air in the country. We’re counting on him to follow through with the state’s commitments and today we pledge our support to take the necessary steps to do so.”

Joey BunchJoey BunchAugust 15, 20175min3722

Trish Zornio’s resume says scientist, but it could soon say candidate. The 32-year-old biomedical scientist from Superior is putting noticeable research into her consideration of running against U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner in 2020.

A Democrat from a family of New Hampshire Republicans, she has a detailed website about her potential candidacy. Monday evening she held the latest in a series of town hall-style meetings at the Boulder Public Library, and she’s trying to figure out what it would take financially for a newcomer to run.

Zornio brings a resume proving authenticity to her issues. She is a millennial woman with a razor-keen background in science and the environment and an outsider to the political outcomes and baggage many voters are tired of. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump showed the latter.

“The health-care votes were a tragedy,” Zornio said of her reasons to oppose Gardner. “That in no way is what Colorado should have had in a representative, and it in no way is what should have happened on a national stage.”

Zornio has worked on medical research for the University of Colorado Boulder, Denver Health Medical Center and the Stanford University School of Medicine, and most recently on a National Institutes of Health-funded study on rare and undiagnosed diseases.

She said the Affordable Care Act is imperfect, but it improving it makes more sense than creating a vacuum for care. Zornio said she was concerned by Senate Republicans’ efforts to repeal and replace it last month, but especially their failed “skinny repeal” without a replacement health-care system for tens of millions of people.

Zornio said the science around the environment is clear.

“We need senators who are in office who understand and appreciate the science, and not only that, but can advocate,” she said. “And when you have a party that’s rising, that’s pulling us from things like the Paris (climate) accord and such, this isn’t acceptable. This isn’t a partisan issue, protecting our environment and our public lands.”

Acknowledging the role energy development has in the state, Zornio supports the advancement of renewable sources, because “we have the opportunity here in Colorado to make headway and be on the forefront of the nation,” she said.

Zornio’s potential candidacy in Colorado was featured in Melissa Healy’s health and science blog in the Los Angeles Times in June. The post is titled, “What happens when scientists leave their labs to experiment with politics?”

Zornio is the lead coordinator for the Colorado chapter of 314 Action, a nonprofit that helps those who work in science, technology, energy and math get involved in policy-making.

But can she raise the kind of bucks it takes to compete? Gardner has collected and spent more than $13 million since he jumped in the Senate race against Democratic incumbent Mark Udall in 2013.

“I think that’s a really good question,” she said with a nervous laugh. “That’s part of the exploration process, but I think there’s a huge movement right now with a number of organizations trying to get women, scientist particularly in office, youth in office … We’ve seen that it’s possible to get candidates elected from the grassroots level. It’s possible to do.”

A Colorado resident since 2009, Zornio has done a lot of work in the community work, as well.

She is a board adviser for the 500 Women Scientists Youth Pod in Boulder County, as well the principal director of CoMusica, a community music program she founded in 2013 .


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 27, 20175min324

Conservative blog Colorado Peak Politics shot some snark at Denver Mayor Michael Hancock over his appearance at, and tweets from, this week’s annual U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Miami.

The confab’s near-consensus on the issue du jour, climate change, was that the nation’s cities should move ahead on their own in tackling the challenge now that the Trump administration has said the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris climate accord. Hancock joined a host of big-city mayors in including New York’s Bill de Blasio in committing to their own local climate-action plans to implement at least some of the Paris accord’s goals.

Peak Politics takes note of Hancock’s tweet:

…and then mockingly recaps some of the objectives of the mayors organization, whose most prominent members tend to be Democrats:

What will Hancock and these mayors do to stop global climate change?

Spend taxpayer money to buy new things, It’s how Democrats solve every problem they encounter!

A whole new fleet of cars that run on electricity fueled by coal will be needed for city employees. And brand new green buildings! They want new construction and development of buildings, which will also provide new jobs for their union buddies. — Bonus.

Last, but not least, they will make plans, plans to save the planet.

It won’t exactly fall in line with the Paris Agreement, but that’s not the point. The point is to criticize President Trump.

If Hancock really wanted to cut down on climate change, he could have just signed that silly letter from his desk in Denver and saved taxpayers, and the planet, from the climate-killing fumes spewed from that First Class trip to Miami.

But tell that to the Pueblo City Council, which voted unanimously Monday to follow suit with the mayors meeting in Miami as well as with some other Colorado cities, including Denver and Fort Collins, in affirming support for the Paris accord.

Reported the Pueblo Chieftain’s Peter Roper:

District 2 Councilman Larry Atencio had asked for the resolution and noted that council voted earlier this year to have the city become 100 percent reliant on renewable energy by 2035.

 “It makes sense that we should acknowledge that climate change is real and we’re doing our part,” he said.
Yup; right in the heart of Colorado’s new Trump Country, Pueblo County — which went for the president last Nov. 8 when the state as a whole turned away.

Joey BunchJoey BunchMay 31, 20178min380

President Trump is considering pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord, the landmark international deal to curb greenhouse emissions.

Colorado leaders on the left were aghast Wednesday at surrendering the nation’s status as a leader on climate change response, but they couldn’t have been surprised. Trump promised as much on the campaign trail, even surmising climate change was a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese.

“Withdrawing from the Paris Agreement would represent an abdication of American values,” U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat from Denver, said in a statement. “This would be yet another example of President Trump’s ‘Putting America Last’ agenda—last in innovation, last in science, and last in international leadership. The Paris Agreement has wide support—from global oil and gas companies to coal generators in our Western states. We should not be moving backwards as the rest of the world races forward to compete in the clean energy industry.

“We cannot ignore the threat of climate change. In Colorado and throughout the West, we have seen its effects through increased droughts and wildfires. Yet, by investing in clean energy, we’ve grown our economy and created good-paying jobs. In Colorado, where we have the lowest unemployment rate in the country, we will continue to build on the progress we’ve made to reduce carbon pollution and implement policies, like the Clean Power Plan, that improve our economy, public health and national security.”

The agreement was signed by agreement in 2015. Participation is voluntary and its terms are non-binding.

“The U.S. is the leader in clean reliable energy, being part of the Paris agreement was symbolic, at best,” said Sen. Ray Scott, a Republican from Grand Junction who chairs the state Senate’s Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee. “We have a 100 year history using fossil fuels and beyond to better everything from clean water, clean air, advanced medical equipment to shoes on our feet, we’ll be just fine without the Paris agreement.”

A month ago, Gov. John Hickenlooper was one of 12 Democratic governors who formally asked Trump not to pull out of the agreement.

“Remaining in the Paris Agreement is crucial to Colorado’s future,” Hickenlooper said then . “Clean energy is a win for Colorado jobs, a win for Colorado consumers, and a win for cleaner air. We look forward to continuing our progress and working with this administration to create 21st century jobs for a 21st century workforce.”

The governor said Colorado is one of the country’s largest “clean energy” employers with nearly about 2,100 such companies and more than 62,000 jobs and $3.6 billion in wages.

“Colorado’s renewable energy industry is poised for significant growth in the years ahead, which will help clean Colorado’s air, reduce consumers’ electricity bills, and support well-paying jobs,” the governor’s office reported.

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, a Democrat from Boulder, and other Democrats introduced a pointless resolution in the Republican House in February to ask Trump to keep the U.S. in the Paris Agreement.

“We must protect our jobs, health & climate,” Polis tweeted Wednesday.

Rep. Diana DeGette, a Democrate from Denver, wrote on Twitter Wednesday, “@POTUS’ reported decision to leave the #ParisAgreement harms our country and our planet in so many ways.”

None of the state’s Republican congressional delegation had tweeted about the Paris Climate Agreement as of mid-afternoon.

Pete Maysmith, the executive director of Conservation Colorado, the state’s largest environmental organization, called Trump, “a reckless embarrassment for our nation.”

“Considering that the U.S. is one of the largest carbon polluters in the world, this decision will have the disastrous consequences,” Maysmith said in a statement. “On top of that, the rest of the world will move forward without us in terms of innovation and international diplomacy while the U.S. will be stuck in the polluting days of the past.

“Considering that there is now a tremendous vacuum in U.S. leadership when it comes to curbing climate change, we call on states to take the lead. In particular, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper must take any action necessary to set our state on track to achieve the carbon pollution reductions laid out in the Paris climate agreements.”

Conservation Colorado noted that the Paris Agreement, as its known, is a voluntary partnership that sets a non-binding goal of cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by up to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.

Colorado would aim for an 80 percent reduction by 2050.

Critics have said climate-change deals are just a way for liberals to hurt energy and coal jobs, while driving up costs for consumers.

I reached out to many of those in Colorado who usually oppose such proposals, and I’m waiting to hear back … and waiting and waiting and waiting.

Many conservatives and interest groups, in general, are proving to be slow to respond to any hypothetical questions when it comes to unpredictable president.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to include Sen. Ray Scott’s comment.


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMay 5, 20173min289

…and credit for that headline goes to the House Democrats’ deputy communications director, Katy Fleury; we couldn’t think of a more apt one.

The touted legislation, introduced only last week by the chamber’s ruling party, comes at an opportune time even if is unlikely to make it through the General Assembly. It seeks to establish measurable goals for the state’s climate-action plan just when Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper has signed onto a letter with 11 other Democratic U.S. governors pleading with the Trump administration not to abandon the Paris Accord on climate change backed by the Obama administration.

House Bill 1366, sponsored by Democratic Reps. Jeni Arndt of Fort Collins and Rep. Faith Winter of Westminster, passed the Health, Insurance & Environment Committee on a party-line vote Thursday. The bill, according to a press statement from Fleury:

…requires the state’s climate action plan to include goals to reduce Colorado’s greenhouse gas emissions or increase our ability to respond to the effects of climate change. This crucial step will help Colorado do its fair share to combat climate change and push the state to be a leader in environmental protection.

The press release quotes the sponsors. Here’s Arndt:

“Colorado already has a Climate Action Plan, but right now we have no guiding goals. … We need to put goals in place and make them aggressive so that we can protect our state’s economy, climate and health. Fort Collins has the most aggressive action plan in the nation and has shown that clean energy and attending to climate change attracts business, spurs innovation and stimulates economic activity. It’s time for the state to act as well.”

And Winter:

“Climate change affects every corner of our state — from agriculture, growing seasons and forest fires, to fewer ski days and the health of our communities. … We should be proactively taking action. Adding goals creates accountability so that we can hold ourselves to a higher standard and make sure our plan is working.”

HB 1366 now goes to the House floor for debate. It’s an easy guess that’s as far it will get in the closing days of the 2017 legislature.

It likely would have hit a wall even earlier in the session once it got to the Senate, where the climate-change-skeptical GOP is in charge.

Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMay 4, 20174min484

The office of Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper announced Wednesday he is joining 11 other U.S. governors in appealing to the Trump administration not to pull out of the Paris Accord, the 2015 global climate agreement backed by the Obama administration.

A letter to President Trump signed by Hickenlooper and the other governors — all Democrats, including Govs. Jerry Brown of California and Andrew Cuomo of New York — contends, “Maintaining the U.S. commitment is essential to protect our residents, and indeed, all Americans from the potentially catastrophic impacts of a changing climate.”

Climate March goes on in Denver despite the elements and confusing report by industry news site

The letter further states:

Collective action to limit emissions world-wide is critical; without collaboration, climate change will cost the world’s nations several trillion dollars in damages. Under the Paris Agreement, all the world’s major economies are taking action on climate change for the first time, including China and India, which have put forward their own commitments to cut their carbon pollution domestically. If the U.S. does not maintain global climate leadership through national policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to clean energy, China and India will. This would be a huge lost opportunity, putting us at a competitive disadvantage and potentially locking us into technologies and economic pathways that are increasingly obsolete while China and India reap the benefits of low-carbon leadership.

A press statement issued by Hickenlooper’s office quotes the governor on Colorado’s interest in supporting the pact:

“Remaining in the Paris Agreement is crucial to Colorado’s future. … Clean energy is a win for Colorado jobs, a win for Colorado consumers, and a win for cleaner air. We look forward to continuing our progress and working with this administration to create 21st century jobs for a 21st century workforce.”

The Trump administration has been signaling its interest in leaving or at least renegotiating U.S. participation in the accord. Under its terms, the Obama administration agreed to cut U.S. greenhouse emissions 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

Reports out of Washington say the administration still is mulling the pending move, with key influencers in the Trump camp spanning the spectrum. Daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner are said to want the president to stay on board. So does Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt wants out while Energy Secretary Rick Perry wants the agreement renegotiated.

The press statement by Hickenlooper’s office also states:

Colorado ranks among the nation’s largest clean energy employers. As of 2015, 2,070 clean technology companies operate in Colorado, and the industry supports more than 62,000 jobs. These clean tech jobs provide Coloradans $3.6 billion in wages. Colorado’s renewable energy industry is poised for significant growth in the years ahead, which will help clean Colorado’s air, reduce consumers’ electricity bills, and support well-paying jobs.