Colorado’s winter sports tourism economy is in harm’s way due to climate change, with fickle winters threatening to shorten ski seasons and tremendously reduce powder days. In the summer, a warming climate has made fire season more extreme, and restricted access to many of the warm-weather playgrounds we love. And climate change isn’t just affecting outdoor recreation: A lack of water puts the state’s fast-growing population at risk and harms the rural Western Slope’s ranching and agriculture industries.
In order to identify key congressional races in Colorado, POW Action Fund looked at where there are a larger number of climbing gyms, breweries, colleges, outdoor retailers and other aspects of strong outdoor recreation communities with congressional districts decided by less than 10 percent. Colorado’s third congressional district, which comprises a large swath of the state, met all the criteria. Colorado’s senate race will also be one of the most important nationally, not only in regards to the balance of power in the Senate but in electing a true environmental majority, as well. Democrats feel confident their candidate, John Hickenlooper, will oust current GOP Senator Cory Gardner, giving them one of the three pick-ups needed to flip the chamber (with a democratic Vice President casting any tie-breaking votes). Colorado is also POW Action Fund’s home state where the organization has the strongest name recognition, volunteer base, alliance partners and supporters.
In Colorado, POW Action Fund has endorsed former Governor John Hickenlooper for the U.S. Senate and former State Representative Diane Mitsch Bush for U.S. House of Representatives in the 3rd Congressional District.
Hickenlooper supports a carbon dividend plan, calling it a “critical component of the necessary market incentives to quickly and cost-effectively lower emissions.” Under the plan, revenue generated from a tax levied on carbon would be returned to taxpayers as a dividend.
Hickenlooper targets transitioning to a 100% renewable energy economy with net-zero emissions by 2050, with an interim goal of a 43% reduction below 2005 levels in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. To do this, Hickenlooper pledges to make large-scale investment in research to “”dramatically accelerate development of wind and solar energy.””
Hickenlooper, a former geologist for an oil and gas company, has defended fracking in the past but his current plan would essentially shut down the oil and gas industry.
As Governor, Hickenlooper encouraged Congress to extend the renewable energy tax credit and signed a bill which doubled the renewable energy target for rural electric cooperatives.
Hickenlooper promises to “ensure equity so that the vulnerable communities hardest hit have a seat at the table in developing equitable climate strategies.”
Hickenlooper also promises to create a “Climate Corps,” a scholarship and loan forgiveness program which would incentivize young people to pursue careers combating climate change.
“From day one as senator, I will fight to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, enforce stricter standards on methane pollution and other harmful emissions, dramatically accelerate development of wind and solar energy, and reverse President Trump and Senator Gardner’s retrogressive and reckless policies.”
As a Presidential Candidate, HIckenlooper pledged to oppose all new leasing for fossil fuel extraction on public lands. Although he supports curbing future oil and gas leasing on public lands, he opposes breaking pre-existing contracts.
Hickenlooper would join Colorado Senator Bennet in support of the CORE Act, which would protect 400,000 acres of public lands in Colorado and ban future oil and gas drilling on 200,000 acres.
As Governor, he implemented Colorado’s “gold standard” of Methane Emissions Regulations, and as senator would “seek to enforce stricter standards on methane pollution” released by oil and gas development on public land.”
Hickenlooper pledges to “reinvent America’s transportation system, including electric-vehicle charging infrastructure and making America’s electric grid more intelligent, reliable, secure, efficient, and resilient.”
He supports raising fuel economy standards, as he did during his time as Governor, with the goal of eventually moving to a 100 percent electric vehicle fleet.
As Governor, he released an Electric Vehicle Plan to invest in and enhance electric vehicle infrastructure, and his 2020 presidential platform included a $200 billion investment in transportation and renewable energy sources.
Mitsch Bush has indicated support for instituting a carbon fee and dividend system as a strategy for combating climate change.
Mitsch Bush favors an all-of-the-above energy strategy including fossil fuels, but with a focus on renewables. However, she has called for a transition to renewable energy “as fast as possible.” She believes the only true solution to addressing climate change is significant government funding of renewable energy coupled with the regulation of oil and gas production. As a part of this, she has called for a just transition to help mining communities affected by the shift to renewable sources of energy.
Mitsch Bush believes in some limitation of fossil fuel extraction on public lands and would set aside some lands to be protected. She has pledged to set strict standards and regulation for oil and gas leasing on federal lands, as well as to set aside more wilderness areas as protected public lands. Mitsch Bush believes in keeping public lands public, and supports expanding environmental protections, including the methane rule.
Mitsch Bush has a track record of supporting both electric vehicle infrastructure and consumer tax credits.