Colorado Currents - Fall 2014
Blue Ribbon Oil and Gas Task Force Gets Underway
In August, Governor Hickenlooper announced the creation of the state commissioned Blue Ribbon Oil and Gas Task Force. The Task force is charged with making policy recommendations focused on state and local regulations of oil and gas operations. The task force is comprised of an equal number of representatives from affected communities, the environmental community, civic organizations, agriculture, and the oil and gas industry. The task force will make its policy recommendations in late February 2015.
The creation of the task force was the result of a compromise between two ballot initiative campaigns proposing both pro- and anti-oil and gas amendments to the Colorado constitution. Rep. Jared Polis was backing two of these initiatives. One would have given local governments more control over oil and gas development within their borders. The second initiative would have mandated a 2,000 foot setback rule — keeping drill sites at least 2,000 feet from homes. Additionally, the oil and gas industry was offering two ballot initiatives that would have taken local control away from municipalities and blocked communities attempting to regulate oil and gas operations from receiving oil and gas tax revenues. Read more
Vote for Clean Water
The stakes could not be higher for Colorado’s water, air, land, and communities in this year’s election. Over the course of the summer, we collected a series of questionnaires and assessed the voting records of candidates for Congress and the Colorado legislature. With the help of the 2014 Clean Water Action Vote Environment Committee, we endorsed a group of candidates that have demonstrated themselves to be environmental champions for Colorado’s natural resources and communities. Read more
Happy Birthday to the Clean Water Act
The Clean Water Act turned forty-two in October. When Congress overwhelmingly passed the landmark Clean Water Act in 1972, we set an incredibly ambitious goal: eliminate all water pollution.
Before the Act, the Cuyahoga River caught fire, Lake Erie was declared “dead,” untreated waste was routinely dumped in rivers and streams, and wetlands were thought to be useless swamps that needed to be drained for development or agriculture. The Clean Water Act changed all of that. Over the past forty-two years we have seen amazing progress for our water.
The Act is visionary – it changed how we think about our nation’s relationship with our water resources, after more than a century of pollution and degradation.
State Water Plan Must Embrace Conservation
For many years, Colorado cities and towns have pulled water from the state’s rivers to meet growing urban and suburban water demands. Colorado rivers cannot sustain this demand. Governor John Hickenlooper’s May 2013 executive order directs the Colorado Water Conservation Board to develop a State Water Plan that would create a roadmap for water use and water conservation on a long-term basis for Colorado.
As a complement to the national campaign for a strong Clean Water Rule from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers to protect Colorado’s streams, wetlands, and drinking water, Clean Water Action is encouraging members to weigh in on the Colorado Water Plan.
In his 2013 State of the State address, Governor Hickenlooper stated that “every conversation about water ought to begin with conservation.” Clean Water Action is encouraging members to let the Colorado Water Conservation Board know that conservation should be the highest priority in developing the Colorado Water Plan. This means implementing policies that push for strong urban and suburban water conservation, rural water efficiency, and putting an end to new transmountain diversion projects.
As little as a 1 percent reduction per year in water use across Colorado could conserve enough water to serve 1.8 million Colorado families. At a minimum, this should be adopted as a goal through 2050 in the state’s water plan.