Gov. Hickenlooper says #Colorado will #ActOnClimate and join #USClimateAlliance

Here’s the release from Governor Hickenlooper’s office:

Gov. John Hickenlooper today signed an executive order committing the state to climate action. He also announced that Colorado will join the U.S. Climate Alliance.

“Coloradans value clean air and clean water. Our strong economy is a reflection of how our exhilarating outdoors attracts young entrepreneurs and the talent they need for their businesses,” said Governor John Hickenlooper. “The vast majority of our residents, and indeed the country, expect us to help lead the way toward a clean and affordable energy future. In this process, we no doubt can address climate change while keeping a priority on household budgets.”

The executive order declares it to be the goal of the State of Colorado to achieve the following:

  • Reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions by more than 26 percent from 2005 levels by 2025;
  • Reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity sector by 25 percent by 2025 and 35 percent by 2030 from 2012 levels; and
  • Achieve electricity savings of two percent of total electricity sales per year by 2020.
  • Colorado also is committing to:

  • Work strategically with any interested utility or electric cooperative on a voluntary basis to maximize use of renewable energy without increasing costs to taxpayers;
  • Create a statewide electric vehicle plan by January 1, 2018;
  • Develop a greenhouse gas emissions tracking rule through the Department of Public Health and Environment;
  • Identify opportunities to partner with local governments on locally-led climate resilience actions;
  • Institutionalize the state’s greening government initiative;
  • Formalize and expand upon cross-agency actions to provide economic development strategies and other supportive services to communities impacted by the changing energy landscape, and submit a written annual report detailing those efforts and accomplishments;
  • Incorporate the emissions reductions goals into the Colorado Climate Plan and solicit stakeholder input regarding additional measures or strategies to advance these goals.
  • To view the complete executive order, click here.

    From DenverRite (Andrew Kenney):

    Gov. John Hickenlooper announced Tuesday that Colorado will join the U.S. Climate Alliance — a coalition of states pledging to uphold the climate goals of the Paris Agreement after President Donald Trump withdrew the country from the agreement — and that by executive order, he will create a specific goal for carbon reduction.

    Hickenlooper spoke about Colorado and its relationship to the climate at a news conference today at Red Rocks.

    “The order sets concrete, measurable goals for the state,” he said.

    Specifically, Colorado will try to cut greenhouse gases by 26 percent from 2005 levels by 2025, and cut carbon from the electricity sector by 25 percent compared to 2012 by 2025 and 35 percent by 2030…

    Hickenlooper said that a new electric vehicle plan to be created next year could link into nationwide plans to create a better electric infrastructure network. “You’ll be able to drive an electric car from Colorado to the Pacific and from Denver to Moffat County without fear.”

    “We can no longer rely on what happens or doesn’t happen in Washington DC. … We need to have state leadership,” Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan said in introducing Hickenlooper.

    From Western Resource Advocates:

    Governor Hickenlooper announced an Executive Order that sets Colorado on a course to reduce Colorado’s greenhouse gas emissions by 26% by 2025, exceeding actions established by the Paris Climate Agreement.

    Today Governor Hickenlooper announced an Executive Order that sets Colorado on a course to reduce Colorado’s greenhouse gas emissions by 26% by 2025, exceeding actions established by the Paris Climate Agreement. The Order includes goals for the utility sector and our buildings, and it advances clean electric cars.

    Jon Goldin-Dubois, President of Western Resource Advocates, made the following statement in response:

    “Governor Hickenlooper’s action today on climate continues to show the West and the world that Colorado can reduce our carbon pollution while keeping our electricity rates low, growing our economy and building new clean energy sectors that have already created tens of thousands of good paying jobs. Colorado has led in addressing climate change before with the state’s Renewable Energy Standard, the Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act and state methane rules—and now we will continue to show that the Colorado way protects our health, our environment and our economy. The Governor’s leadership in reducing emissions in our state, joining with other states across the country through the Climate Alliance, demonstrates that we take climate impacts very seriously. Longer and hotter droughts, severe storms, flooding and increased wildfires are too harmful to stand by and do nothing.

    “We praise Governor Hickenlooper for his leadership in setting strong and measurable actions addressing climate change and ensuring Colorado acts to achieve needed greenhouse gas reductions. This shows that our state joins with other countries and states heeding the advice of the world’s scientists on what is necessary to avoid 2 degrees Celsius in warming. We know from the Western States Survey conducted by Colorado College and released in 2017 that two-thirds of Colorado voters believe dependence on fossil fuels is a problem and a majority want to see more solar and wind power. The Governor is representing our citizens well in taking clear action to clean our air. We urge President Trump and other Governors, mayors and elected leaders to take heed and follow suit in immediately taking effective action.”

    From Real Vail (David O. Williams):

    Fast forward to July of 2017. Donald Trump is president, the CPP is dead, the EPA has been gutted, Trump is pulling the United States out of the Paris accords, and Hickenlooper on Tuesday announced an executive order reducing Colorado’s greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent by 2025, exceeding the targets of the Paris accords.

    The order focuses on the state’s utility sector and energy efficiency in Colorado buildings, and it accelerates the state’s move toward electric cars. Now Hickenlooper is receiving some praise from the conservation community…

    The U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of 13 states and Puerto Rico committed to meeting the goals of the Paris agreement. Conservation Colorado issued this statement:

    “Times like these demand decisive action, and we are pleased to see Governor Hickenlooper join the burgeoning movement among states, cities, and businesses to tackle climate change,” said Pete Maysmith, executive director of Conservation Colorado. “The actions that the governor has announced will not only help us fight climate change, but will bring clean energy jobs and business innovation to the Centennial State. With today’s announcement, President Trump has become even more isolated from the world, whose leaders are taking aggressive action to fight climate change. We are excited to work with Governor Hickenlooper to meet or exceed all of these important targets.”

    From the Associated Press via the Fort Collins Coloradoan:

    Colorado’s Democratic governor has added his state to a dozen others endorsing the Paris global accord on climate change as President Donald Trump withdraws the nation from the agreement.

    Gov. John Hickenlooper said Tuesday the state would also set a goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions from electrical generation while keeping energy affordable, citing cheap natural gas and declining costs of wind and solar power.

    He says Colorado will reduce vehicle pollution by adding charging stations for electric cars and use state-owned buildings to showcase energy efficiency.

    Hickenlooper acknowledged that at least some Republicans would oppose his plan but predicted many would come around because of lure of job creation in renewable energy.

    He says the state is already working to help communities replace lost jobs in the coal industry.

    @RockiesProject: The fourth section of the 2017 State of the Rockies Report is now available online

    Many Indian reservations are located in or near contentious river basins where demand for water outstrips supply. Map courtesy of the Bureau of Reclamation.

    Click here to read the section, “Reservations and Reservoirs: Deferred Tribal Justice on the Columbia and Colorado River,” from the State of the Rockies Project (Emelie Frojen).

    Folks battle leafy spurge on the Yampa River

    From the Craig Daily Press (Lauren Blair):

    A coalition of ranchers and environmentalists, politicians and bureaucrats, and Jimmy-Buffett-loving river recreationalists came together Friday to learn about a quiet scourge overtaking the banks of the Yampa River known as the leafy spurge.

    The plant itself looks innocent enough, with little yellow flowers that turn entire sections of river bank into a sea of green and yellow. But the demure-looking weed is extremely aggressive and invasive, and has wreaked havoc in states like Montana and North Dakota, where more than 2 million acres of ranch land have been put out of production due to the noxious weed.

    Formed in 2015, the Yampa River Leafy Spurge Project brought together partners in Routt and Moffat counties to tackle the growing infestation, which first took root more than 40 years ago…

    The problem has eluded an effective solution for decades, as the conditions unique to river banks challenge all variety of treatments from chemical to biological to mechanical.

    The result is that debate continues about how to deal with the destructive plant, and for now, officials have focused on keeping the infestation from spreading…

    The project received $30,000 in funding from the Colorado Department of Agriculture in 2016; Moffat and Routt counties each received $10,000 to fund projects to target infestations, and $10,000 went to landowner education and outreach.

    Additional county and federal funds also flow towards containment efforts on private, county and federal lands, but for a weed that sends roots as deep as 60 feet down and is able to broadcast its seeds up to 30 feet, as well as send them downriver, available resources have been outmatched.

    “For our economy’s sake, from a recreational standpoint, an agricultural standpoint and an environmental standpoint, it’s a big issue,” said Todd Hagenbuch with Natural Resources Conservation Services.

    Federal resolution aims to streamline water storage permits

    Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) map July 27, 2016 via Northern Water.

    From The Fort Morgan Times (Jenni Grubbs):

    House Resolution 1654 would set the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation as the agency in charge of permitting water storage projects. That agency then would coordinate all the federal agencies involved in that process, as well as the reducing redundant requirements at state and local levels that currently are part of the permitting process.

    While this legislation becoming law could have substantial impacts on some proposed water storage projects in Colorado, it would not be likely to impact the process for the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP)…

    “Obviously we support the basic idea of streamlining the permit process,” Brian Werner from Northern Water said of the legislation. “We’re all for finding out how we can tweak this process.”

    For example, many of the studies and other preparatory work on a large water storage project like NISP could have been conducted concurrently, rather than sequentially, Werner suggested.

    “Streamlining doesn’t mean that we don’t do the studies,” he said, “but we could do it more efficiently.”

    […]

    Congressman Ken Buck, R-CD4, voted in favor of the resolution, even speaking for it on the House floor and mentioning proposed water storage projects in Colorado, like NISP, as why he supported it…

    House Resolution 1654 would set the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation as the agency in charge of permitting water storage projects. That agency then would coordinate all the federal agencies involved in that process, as well as the reducing redundant requirements at state and local levels that currently are part of the permitting process.

    While this legislation becoming law could have substantial impacts on some proposed water storage projects in Colorado, it would not be likely to impact the process for the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP).

    That proposed water storage project would have Northern Water build two reservoirs, Galeton northeast of Greeley and Glade northwest of Fort Collins. They would provide water to the 15 NISP participants, including the city of Fort Morgan and Morgan County Quality Water District.

    “Obviously we support the basic idea of streamlining the permit process,” Brian Werner from Northern Water said of the legislation. “We’re all for finding out how we can tweak this process.”

    For example, many of the studies and other preparatory work on a large water storage project like NISP could have been conducted concurrently, rather than sequentially, Werner suggested.

    “Streamlining doesn’t mean that we don’t do the studies,” he said, “but we could do it more efficiently.”

    Congressman Ken Buck, R-CD4, voted in favor of the resolution, even speaking for it on the House floor and mentioning proposed water storage projects in Colorado, like NISP, as why he supported it.

    “Unfortunately, many water storage projects in my state face significant setbacks in permitting due to a long list of regulatory checkboxes,” he said in prepared remarks. “Much of this delay occurs because each level of government-local, state, and federal-requires (its) own studies and permitting checklists, even though many of those requirements are the same or only slightly different.”

    The goal would not be to eliminate environmental or safety requirements for getting the permits, Buck pointed out. Instead it would be to seek to get the “different levels of government to work together so that our water projects can earn the permits they rightly qualify for” during the initial permitting process.

    The legislation next faces debate in the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, but a hearing date had not yet been set as of Monday afternoon. That committee includes Colorado’s Sen. Cory Gardner as a member.

    Unique agreement supports the longest rafting season on Colorado’s Arkansas River —

    Browns Canyon via BrownsCanyon.org

    Here’s the release from the Arkansas River Outfitters Association via PR Newswire:

    A successful water management agreement on the Arkansas River exemplifies Colorado’s dedication to its natural resources and the visitor experiences they support, according to the Arkansas River Outfitters Association (AROA).

    The Arkansas River Voluntary Flow Management Program helps ensure there is water for whitewater rafting on the river well into August. The cooperative agreement among water users is unique in that it includes recreation in water management decisions.

    AROA is part of the agreement with the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and other agencies that not only supports summer flows for whitewater rafting, but also manages water year-round for a healthy fishery.

    The program, which started in 1990, is a model management technique for all other rivers in the American West. It allows whitewater rafting outfitters to offer the longest boating season in Colorado, AROA Executive Director Bob Hamel said.

    “The water program recognizes that recreation is part of our lifestyle, and that its economic impact is important,” Hamel said.

    Whitewater rafting generated $179.8 million in spending among the state’s commercial users last year, according to the Colorado River Outfitters Association.

    The Arkansas River is America’s most popular whitewater rafting destination, hosting nearly a quarter of a million visitors last season and attracting kayakers and private rafters from around the world. The river hosts more than 40 percent of the state’s commercial rafting market, in part due to the longer season, but also because its 100-plus miles of whitewater rapids offer something for nearly everyone.

    Technical boating, mild family float trips, multi-day camping and inn-to-inn rafting, plus standup paddle boarding and kayaking, are popular trips among families and friends of all ages.

    With the mountain towns of Salida, Buena Vista and Cañon City nearby, visitors lengthen their stays and plan additional outdoor fun like horseback riding, ATV tours and hiking the area’s concentration of 14,000-foot peaks.

    More than 100 miles of the Arkansas River was designated Gold Medal in 2014, meaning anglers can expect trophy trout fishing on a long, contiguous river segment that constitutes nearly a third of the state’s Gold Medal miles.

    For information about current water levels and booking a Colorado whitewater rafting adventure, contact an Arkansas River outfitter at http://www.ArkansasRiverOutfitters.org.

    Potential wide-ranging effects of @EPA redo of #WOTUS rule

    Farmers Highline Canal Arvada.

    From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

    Less than 30 percent of Colorado’s estimated 95,000 miles of streams are likely to qualify for protection if the current system is changed as proposed, according to a 2009 study by the conservation group Trout Unlimited. EPA data show that 77,850 miles of waterways in Colorado are ephemeral, only flowing seasonally or during rain.

    Federal environmental officials must protect “waters of the United States” under the nation’s landmark 1972 Clean Water Act — by requiring property owners to obtain permits designed to minimize impact before water can be polluted or wetlands destroyed. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers administers these permits, typically requiring six months or more for processing — a source of frustration for some.

    Trump’s team has proposed to repeal a broader definition of “waters of the United States” that the EPA and Army Corps adopted in 2015 under President Barack Obama — one that expanded protection following U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 that created confusion. The court ruled that federal authorities could only require permits for pollution and dredging of “navigable waters.” The Obama-era approach, still not implemented due to lawsuits, allows regulation of flowing water, including ephemeral streams, with exemptions for agriculture.

    Publication in the federal register on June 27 of the Trump administration’s proposal to repeal and replace clean water standards triggered a 30-day period for public comment. Then the rollback would take effect. However, more than 70 members of Congress last week requested an extension to no less than six months. On Thursday, the League of Conservation Voters and 18 other environment groups sent Pruitt a letter requesting the same.

    While Colorado has state-level rules limiting water pollution that still could apply, there is no state rule against dredging and filling that destroys wetlands and streams.

    Beer brewers were among the first to object. Eight craft brewers in Colorado, joined by counterparts nationwide, sent a letter to EPA and Army Corps leaders urging maximum protection.

    “Beer is mostly water, so the quality of our source water affects our finished product. Even small chemical disruptions in our water supply can alter the taste of a brew or influence factors like shelf life and foam pattern,” they wrote. “We need reliable sources of clean water to consistently produce the great beer that is key to our success.”

    In western Colorado, a growing reliance on pristine water for the economy — depending more on recreation and tourism — compelled concern. The fuzzy meaning of “waters of the United States” and delays issuing federal permits are a problem, many agree, and local officials would welcome greater clarity, said Torie Jarvis, co-director of the Water Quantity and Quality Committee (QQ) of the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments. But most favor greater protection, not less.

    “While QQ supports increased clarity for the definition of ‘waters of the United States,’ this clarity should not mean reduced water quality protection under the Clean Water Act,” Jarvis and the other local leaders told EPA officials June 19, after the feds had asked for input for their proposed repeal and overhaul of clean water rules.

    “Water quality in the headwaters of Colorado is critically important for our regional tourism economy as much as for environmental protection. Tourism is the largest employment sector in the headwaters region, comprising 48 percent of all jobs,” local officials wrote. “Tourism in the region includes fishing, hunting, kayaking, rafting, wading, lake and reservoir recreation, wildlife watching, hiking, and snowmaking for ski resorts, all of which depend on clean water.”

    Some local officials reckon they could protect cherished watersheds on their own, without robust federal clean water rules, by using their power to regulate land use.

    Environment groups last week argued that a federal role is necessary to buttress local power.

    “Local governments may be able to control some impacts based on conditions they might impose on developments, but they do not have a statutory obligation to do so — so the ability to protect these important resources ends up relying on their level of commitment to protecting water quality, and their ability to have the expertise and resources to do so, which for smaller local governments can be a real limitation,” Colorado Trout Unlimited director David Nickum said.

    “Our main practical concern with the change in these federal standards is that we would lose the protection for seasonal streams and for wetlands from being dredged or filled in — protection that currently is provided. … Allowing those areas to be degraded will in turn have ripple effects downstream onto our drinking water supplies and our important fishing and recreation rivers,” Nickum said.

    “Colorado’s outdoor economy and quality of life depend on healthy, clean watersheds, and anglers know that starts at the source: the small, unassuming streams, headwaters and wetlands that rescinding the Clean Water Rule puts at risk,” he said.

    “President Trump promised to drain the swamp. Instead, this EPA proposal aims to drain our wetlands and pollute our streams,” he said. “Coloradans deserve better.”