From The Sterling Journal-Advocate (Jeff Rice):
State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, the Republican who represents Senate District 1 of northeast Colorado, told the Colorado Livestock Association’s Northeast Livestock Symposium on Tuesday that he’ll work to keep the Environmental Agricultural Program alive because it gives agriculture a voice in state environmental concerns.
The program, administered by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, oversees air and water quality protection regulations specific to animal feeding operations. That includes permitting, conducting site inspections, developing and implementing policies and regulations, providing technical assistance and initiating enforcement actions in coordination with the CDPHE’s Air and Water Quality divisions.
“A lot of people thought, when this program started, that it was just another way for CDPHE to hammer on us, and that’s why it’s sunsetted,” Sonnenberg said. “But it’s turned out to be one of those programs that actually uses a lot of common sense, and it gives (livestock producers) a voice when it comes to making regulations and policies.”
The senator said that, with the program’s track record, there is talk of removing the sunset requirement of the program, or at least moving it to a seven-year interval, and that he would support that move.
The legislature also will likely get involved with the Gilcrest high water table problem, which is causing property damage in and around Gilcrest as well augmentation practices — necessary to maintain the health of the South Platte River aquifer — have raised the water table during the irrigation season. A pilot program allows irrigators to pump without augmenting locally, but putting water in the river from other sources.
Sonnenberg said it might be better to store the augmentation water in reservoirs further away from Gilcrest so release of the water into the river can be better timed to the need for water downstream…
Sonnenberg said that, while he remains absolutely committed to the ideals and values of the Republican party, there is a certain efficiency and effectiveness that comes from split ownership of the General Assembly. He said it tends to moderate the extremes on both sides of the aisle in both houses and forces members of the parties to work together. The senator said he didn’t see the balance changing much in the 2018 elections.
And, he said, as long as he is in the legislature, he will represent all of agriculture…
Because of that representation, Sonnenberg was later awarded the Colorado Livestock Association’s Legislator of the Year Award for his work on behalf of farming and ranching families and the industries that support them.
“Senator Jerry Sonnenberg is a real-life farmer and rancher who has a deep-rooted understanding of and passion for agriculture in Colorado. This is most evident in his actions as he represents not just his constituents in Senate District One, but all of Colorado agriculture in carrying out his duties in the Colorado Senate,” Bill Hammerich, CEO of Colorado Livestock Association, said in an announcement. “Because of his commitment to and support of agriculture in the legislative arena the Colorado Livestock Association is proud to recognize Senator Jerry Sonnenberg as the CLA 2017 Legislator of the Year.”