Governor Polis Appoints CWCB Director Rebecca Mitchell (@cwcbbecky) to Upper #ColoradoRiver Commission, she replaces James Eklund (@EklundCO) #COriver #aridification @CWCB_DNR

Here’s the release from the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (Chris Arendt):

Governor Jared Polis appointed Rebecca Mitchell as the Colorado Commissioner to the Upper Colorado River Commission today. The Upper Colorado River Commission is an interstate water agency consisting of the Upper Colorado River Basin States of Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico.

“The Colorado River is the lifeblood of the American West and is critically important for Colorado’s economy, agriculture, outdoor recreation and our way of life,” said Governor Polis. “Rebecca Mitchell will bring experience, leadership and a thorough knowledge of Colorado River issues and will enhance the shared mission of the Upper basin states of comity and collaboration as the Colorado River Commissioner.”

The Upper Colorado River Commission’s function is to ensure compact compliance with the 1922 Colorado River Compact. The Commission was established so states work together and in partnership to meet their obligations to the lower basin states while safeguarding the Upper basin states’ Colorado River water rights and allocations. The Commission is comprised of one representative appointed by the Governor of each Upper basin state and one member appointed by the President to represent the United States.

“The Colorado River faces unique future challenges with increased population, persistent drought, and impacts of climate change,” said Dan Gibbs, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Natural Resources. “We appreciate the service of outgoing Commissioner James Eklund, and Becky is ready to take the reins. She has been an incredible leader at the Colorado Water Conservation Board and her experience is needed now more than ever as the Upper basin states’ enact their provisions of the Colorado River drought contingency plans signed earlier this year.”

“It’s an honor to serve as the Colorado Commissioner for the Upper Colorado River Commission,” said Rebecca Mitchell, Director, Colorado Water Conservation Board. “There is no more important river than the Colorado both here and across the American West. In Colorado we have built a strong culture of collaboration, innovation, and smart policy to drive future water planning and I plan on bringing the same cooperative spirit and leadership to the Upper Colorado River Commission.”

“I am so proud to have represented Colorado in achieving interstate and international solutions for the Colorado River,” said outgoing Commissioner James Eklund. “The innovative tools we created and put in place are ready for implementation to the benefit of the entire basin. Colorado is now well-positioned to continue its legacy of leadership under the Polis Administration collaboratively and inclusively.”

Rebecca Mitchell (Becky) serves as the Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB). She is an accomplished water leader with over 17 years experience in the Colorado water sector and highly knowledgeable in the water laws of the State. Mitchell played a significant part in working with the State’s Basin Roundtables, the Interbasin Compact Committee, the public at large and CWCB staff in producing Colorado’s Water Plan. Becky has worked in the public and private sector as a consulting engineer; she received both her B.S. and M.S. from the Colorado School of Mines.

Governor Polis also appointed John McClow, General Counsel for the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District and David Robbins, Hill & Robbins, P.C. to serve as alternate commissioners.

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):

Gov. Jared Polis on Wednesday named Rebecca Mitchell as Colorado’s representative to the Upper Colorado River Commission, replacing Mesa County native James Eklund.

Mitchell also is director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

The Upper Colorado River Commission works to ensure compact compliance with the 1922 Colorado River Compact, the Colorado Department of Natural Resources said in a new release. Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico are represented on the commission, with the goal of partnering to meet obligations to Lower Basin states while safeguarding Colorado River water rights and allocations in Upper Basin states.

Eklund, who has deep family roots in the Plateau Valley, is a former CWCB director who in that position led the effort to create Colorado’s first water plan.

He stepped down as director in 2017 to take a job as an attorney at a law firm, but remained as Colorado’s representative on the Upper Colorado River Commission, serving without compensation.

Both Eklund and Mitchell played roles in Colorado reaching agreements with other basin states for drought contingency planning…

Mitchell got her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Colorado School of Mines, has worked as a consulting engineer, and has more than 17 years of experience in Colorado’s water sector. She also played a significant part in the development of Colorado’s water plan.

Adams County is eyeing increased oil and gas facility setback limits #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

Drilling rig and production pad near Erie school via WaterDefense.org

From The Denver Post (John Aguilar):

County to consider 1,000-foot standard for all new oil and gas wells

Adams County could become the first community in Colorado to require a larger separation between new wells and occupied buildings than the state mandates, as leaders at both the state and local level wrestle with how to implement a historic oil and gas reform law passed this year.

The Denver Post got an early look at a draft of the county’s oil and gas regulations, which the commissioners will likely vote on at the end of the month. They call for a 1,000-foot buffer between wells and homes, schools and day care centers — doubling the distance the state presently requires.

The issue of well setbacks became the topic de jour during the 2018 election, when voters were asked to increase the distance between new wells and homes and schools to 2,500 feet statewide. The ballot issue, Proposition 112, was soundly defeated.

But after the passage of Senate Bill 181 in April, which ended state preemption over energy extraction matters and tasked state regulators with putting health and safety ahead of industry expansion, local governments now have the opportunity to increase setbacks on their own.

Adams County in March put a six-month moratorium on any new drilling so that it could rewrite its rules for the industry. There are hundreds of pending permits for wells in the county…

It’s likely communities that have taken an even firmer stance against oil and gas activity in the past, such as Boulder and Larimer counties, may put in place even larger setbacks than what Adams County is proposing…

Just two years ago, when the state did have total authority over setbacks, Thornton was successfully sued by oil and gas industry groups when the city attempted to enlarge setbacks by 250 feet over the state’s minimum.

The judge, in casting aside Thornton’s rules, found that municipalities “cannot authorize what state law forbids or forbid what state law allows.” That has all changed in the wake of SB 181 becoming law.

The state is just embarking on what is expected to be a months-long process to write rules to implement the new oil and gas law. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission held two days of public hearings last week, which were marked with repeated disruptions from fracking opponents in the audience.

Meanwhile, communities continue crafting or revamping their own rules.

“A fundamental obligation of local governments is to mitigate incompatible land uses,” Adams County Commissioner Steve O’Dorisio said. “Large-scale oil and gas facilities are often intense industrial uses, which can be incompatible with residential neighborhoods.”

But O’Dorisio said the 1,000-foot buffer being considered is not a “hardline” threshold, as there is language in the proposed rules that would allow oil and gas operators to apply on a case-by-case basis for a waiver to drill closer.

Matt Samelson, an attorney with Western Environmental Law Partners, said Adams County’s proposed setback shouldn’t come as a shock to many of the energy companies that operate in the congested and mineral-rich north suburban corridor.

Many communities, like Commerce City, Brighton and Broomfield, have already gotten drillers to agree to setbacks greater than 500 feet as part of voluntary operator agreements that the municipalities have hammered out with the industry over the past few years.

Can #Colorado help in the #climatecrisis? Congressional committee comes to state seeking guidance — The Denver Post

Screen shot from the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis August 3, 2019.

From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

he U.S. Congress Climate Crisis Committee came to Colorado this week seeking guidance for a new national push to reduce the heat-trapping air pollution that worsens global warming — boosting the state’s position as a center for innovative action.

Members of this select committee and staffers explored energy research labs for two days. They quizzed scientists at work on accelerating a shift off fossil fuels to lower-cost wind and solar electricity.

And on Thursday the lawmakers held their first formal field hearing in a jam-packed courtroom at the University of Colorado law school, repeatedly asking state and city leaders how best the federal government could weigh in…

Gov. Jared Polis testified first, telling the lawmakers climate change poses “the existential threat” that in Colorado is affecting water supply, food production and a recreation industry that needs healthy forests. State agencies are girding for “a hotter, drier, more erratic future,” Polis said, and summarized work “to accelerate the retirement of costly coal assets” that pump out heat-trapping carbon dioxide.

Bold federal action “is more than just a moral imperative,” Polis said. “We also have an economic imperative to lead the global clean energy revolution.”

Colorado still relies on coal as the source for 52% of the electricity people use. However, gradual phasing out of coal-fired power plants, initiated by voters 15 years ago, has begun to reduce carbon dioxide…

Persuading the rest of Congress, under a Trump administration that frowns on utterances of the words “climate change,” looms as a political challenge.

#Colorado Proud 20th anniversary: Colorado Agriculture Is Loud and Proud Today (Yesterday)– Westword #ColoradoDay

From Westword (Patricia Calhoun):

Governor Jared Polis has declared August “Colorado Proud Month” in honor of the Colorado Department of Agriculture local-product program’s twentieth anniversary. Colorado Proud got its start in 1999, long before the local food movement caught fire (and some time after the Always Buy Colorado campaign disappeared into history). Initially, Colorado Proud’s membership consisted of 65 companies selling state-grown and -made products; today it has more than 2,700 members, including growers, food manufacturers, restaurants, ranchers and retailers.

Wendy White, marketing specialist for the ag department, has been with Colorado Proud from the beginning. “I don’t know where the time went,” she says. “We’ve seen such a shift. When Colorado Proud started, I was knocking on doors and encouraging them to participate…we were local before it was hip to be local.” Now, though, it’s not only hip, but consumers are increasingly interested in knowing more about the products they’re buying and the practices of the ranches and farms that produce them.

New businesses are jumping in all the time, too. “We’ve seen a lot of growth in microgreens,” says White. “Lavender we’re really starting to see blossom — pun intended. Hops and hemp, too. Even manufactured food products such as salsas and sauces.”

“Colorado Proud is a national leader in championing the diverse agricultural products grown, raised or processed in our state,” says new Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg, who lists three major goals for her department: supporting the next generation of farmers and ranchers; scaling up investment in high-value agriculture and diversifying market opportunities; and promising and incentivizing soil, water and climate stewardship.

To mark its anniversary, Colorado Proud not only got that Polis proclamation, but replaced its purple-and-gold sunrise logo with one that more closely resembles the Colorado flag (not to mention Polis’s new state logo). It’s also adopted a new outreach theme, “The Next Generation of Ag,” and will be hosting an agricultural community tour around the state this month, including stops at the Union Station Farmers’ Market on Saturday, August 3; the South Pearl Street Farmers’ Market on Sunday, August 4; and the Broomfield Farmers’ Market on Tuesday, August 6.

Grand Junction Economic Partnership roundtable discussion recap, town hall at #Colorado Mesa University Monday, July 22, 2019

The Grand Valley Irrigation Canal, in Palisade, heading for Grand Junction. Photo: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Alex Zorn):

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser met with Mesa County officials at a Grand Junction Economic Partnership roundtable discussion last Tuesday regarding ways the state office can better serve the Western Slope.

Weiser touched on the AG’s role outside of Denver and protecting Colorado water was among the main points of focus.

“Most people don’t really know what the AG does,” he began…

The Colorado Attorney General leads an office of 500 people out of Denver but, despite this, Weiser said he’s committed to having a greater presence in Grand Junction and would be open to hiring representation in the community…

Protecting the water rights of every Coloradan is a central issue.

Weiser told the roundtable he doesn’t want to see a future in which Colorado doesn’t have Palisade peaches because of water access rights.

He referenced Crowley County, where water rights were sold off and it devastated the community, and Weiser doesn’t want to see a similar situation in this part of the state.

As far as water rights are concerned, Weiser said he doesn’t want to see Coloradoans fighting with each other, nor does he want Colorado fighting with other states for the precious resource.

“This is going to be among the most important things we do,” he said…

Weiser and state Rep. Matt Soper will be hosting a town hall at the Colorado Mesa University Center Monday beginning at 5:30 p.m. The event will be in CMU’s University Center, Room 213, and parking will be provided in the parking garage off of 12th Street.

Kate Greenberg, Colorado’s first female ag commissioner, reaches out to farmers, ranchers across the state — The Denver Post

Kate Greenberg. Photo credit: National Young Farmers Coalition

Here’s a report from The Denver Post (Judith Kohler). Here’s an excerpt:

As state agriculture commissioner, Greenberg wants to travel to as many places as possible. She has also mapped out a set of four major priorities and relishes detailing them.

“Are you ready for the next one?” Greenberg asks as she dives into discussing her priorities. “Are you ready for No. 3? Are you ready for No. 4?”

The road Greenberg traveled to her new job as Colorado ag commissioner is different from most of her immediate predecessors, many of whom grew up farming and ranching. Greenberg did not.

Besides her background, Greenberg is different from her predecessors in an even more fundamental way. She is the first woman to hold the job in the state’s history.

Greenberg grew up in Minnesota, was around agriculture and had friends and neighbors who farmed and ranched. However, it wasn’t until she moved to eastern Washington state that she farmed and ranched herself. There and in western Washington, Greenberg raised vegetables and livestock on community-supported farms. While with the Sonoran Institute, Greenberg worked with communities on restoration projects and managed greenhouse operations.

Most recently, Greenberg was the Western Program Director for the National Young Farmers Coalition, working on water issues and based in Durango. She graduated from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., with a degree in environmental studies-humanities.

“I’ve always loved and worked on behalf of the outdoors, natural world,” Greenberg said. “The piece that really shifted when I came West was realizing the work people put in behind the scenes…

She wants to ensure that agriculture remains vital by supporting the next generation of farmers and ranchers.

“We don’t have enough young people coming into agriculture, which means not only do we risk losing the legacy of the current generation, the assets, but also the land,” Greenberg said. “We are really at a fork in the road with the aging demographic overall of farmers, paired with the economics of farming right now.”

Agriculture contributes about $40 billion annually to the state’s economy, Greenberg said, making it the second-largest sector of the state’s economy.

Polis administration’s: roadmap to 100% #renewableenergy by 2040 and bold #climate action #ActOnClimate

Click here to read the report. Here’s the vision section:

Governor Polis ran on a bold platform of achieving 100% Renewable Energy by 2040. This goal is motivated by the moral imperative to fight climate change and curb pollution of our air and water, as well as the opportunity to drive innovation and harness the consumer savings and economic bene- fits of leading the transition to a clean energy economy. This is our roadmap to achieve this goal.

This transition is already underway and shows no signs of slowing down. The two fastest-growing professions in the United States are solar photovoltaic installers and wind turbine service technicians. Fourteen Colorado towns and counties have already taken the initiative and adopted the goal of getting 100% of their electricity from clean renewable energy: Denver, Pueblo, Boulder, Fort Collins, Summit County, Frisco, Aspen, Glenwood Springs, Breckenridge, Longmont, Lafayette, Nederland to Golden. These diverse communities know that protecting Colorado’s way of life means doing our part to combat climate change, and that swiftly adopting renewable energy in our electricity sector and then extending the impact of that clean electricity across the economy will protect the health of our communities, create good paying jobs, strengthen our economy and keep rates low for customers.

The Polis Administration has taken a number of significant steps that make a down payment on our commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2040. By partnering with the Legislature, we’ve empowered the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to facilitate a rapid transition to renewable energy across the state that includes working with our largest utility to invest in renewable energy and meet a goal of reducing greenhouse gas pollution 80% by 2030. We’re building a regulatory framework that will enable the PUC to work with our second largest utility to transition from coal-fired power to cheaper, cleaner sources of renewable energy. We are also making it easier for individual Coloradans to participate by expanding access to energy efficiency and community solar gardens. Additionally, the Legislature passed House Bill 1261, which sets economy-wide targets for reducing greenhouse gas pollution, with goals of 26% reduction by 2025 below 2005 levels, 50% reduction by 2030 and 90% reduction by 2050, and delegates authority to the Air Quality Control Commission to adopt rules to make progress towards those goals.

One of the most important parts of our transition to cleaner energy is electrifying transportation in Colorado. In order to meet the Governor’s goal of 940,000 zero emission vehicles on the road by 2030, state agencies have taken a number of steps, including allocating approximately $14 million to transit agencies across the state to deploy cleaner buses. The agencies are also expeditiously estab- lishing public-private partnerships to build 33 fast charging stations along major highways in the state. Working with the Legislature, we’ve also made it easier for utilities, with oversight from the PUC, to invest in electric vehicle infrastructure.

While we’ve already taken important strides towards our renewable energy vision, there’s much work to do. The policies adopted this legislative session provide the foundation for much higher levels of renewable energy integration, but additional strategies will be needed to get to 100% by 2040. It’s going to take the perspective, expertise, and commitment from diverse voices across the state to forge a renewable energy future that works for all of Colorado. Together, we can do our part to fight climate change, improve air quality and the health of our communities, diversify and strengthen our economy across the state, and ensure the good-paying jobs of the quickly growing green energy economy are created here in Colorado.