Colorado cities, counties to lobby state on climate change

New organization to push for more aggresive steps to curb greenhouse gases

Is Colorado a hotspot for global warming?
Is Colorado a hotspot for global warming?

Staff Report

Nine Colorado cities and counties are forming a new group that aims to push the state to take more aggressive action to slow climate change.

The new group, Communities for Climate Action, will lobby the state government and participate in state agency proceedings to to represent local interests in climate protection, energy efficiency, and clean energy, according to Stephen Saunders, president of the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization, which is administering the new organization.

Saunders said the coalition’s goals could include support for pro-climate bills in the State Legislature, advocating for an effective state plan to comply with the federal Clean Power Plan and lobbying Gov. John Hickenlooper to urge more aggressive state climate actions.

“Effective advocacy on climate matters at the state and federal levels is not possible without professional representation, and pooling resources through a statewide coalition is the most cost-effective way for local governments to achieve that professional representation,” the new group stated on its website.

Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones said, “Colorado has so much at risk from extreme weather, drought, and wildfires that we need to do more at every level of government to protect our public health and safety, environment, and quality of life. This new coalition will unite the voices of counties, cities, and towns to bring about the policies and support we need from the state and federal government so we can take care of our local communities and local residents.”

Colorado has already felt the effects of global warming, with increased wildfires, forest die-offs and growing concerns about water supplies. Projected temperature increases will put the state at risk of severe heat waves within the next few decades. By 2050, Denver’s climate will be more like current conditions in Lamar or Sterling, with 100-degree days more common than not, even with aggressive actions to cut global greenhouse gas emissions.

On those hot summer days, those gases will mix with other pollution to form more toxic ozone that attacks delicate lung membranes. The haze could linger for weeks, taking a toll on elderly people, asthmatics and infants.

In the mountains, many aspen forests could die, and some streams will become to warm for trout. The increasing heat will also melt Colorado’s famed powder snow sooner in the spring, shortening the ski season. Already, in the past two seasons, warm autumn temperatures have hampered snow and delayed opening day at major resorts.

The founding members of  CC4CA are Boulder County, the City of Fort Collins, the City of Boulder, Eagle County, the City of Golden, Pitkin County, San Miguel County, the City of Aspen, and the Town of Vail.  Other local governments are considering joining the coalition.

Jackie Kozak Thiel, chief sustainability officer for the City of Fort Collins, said, “Fort Collins has some of the nation’s most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals in the country, and we will be more successful as a region with state and federal support. We can make a difference to build resiliency in our communities if we collaborate to align action and policies, as well as share best practices with other jurisdictions and learn from each other.”




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