DENVER, CO: Colorado conservation groups announced ambitious plans to significantly grow the state’s clean energy economy, use water more efficiently, and clean up toxic uranium processing sites during the 2010 legislative session.
“Our legislative agenda recognizes the link between Colorado’s environment and economy — our clean air, pure water and scenic landscapes are the economic engine for Colorado, and essential to our economic recovery,” said Elise Jones, Executive Director of the Colorado Environmental Coalition.
The proposed measures include increasing Colorado’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES) from 20% to 30% by 2020. The Renewable Energy Standard has been the centerpiece policy driving aggressive investment in clean renewable energy. Increasing the standard is the best way to ensure Colorado continues to lead the country towards a new energy future.
“In the last five years we’ve gone from zero to sixty on clean energy, creating tens of thousands of jobs in our state,” said Pam Kiely, Program Director for Environment Colorado. “In 2008 alone, more than $150 million was invested. Solar and wind have been the bright spot in our state’s economy, and increasing the standard to 30% will ensure that Colorado remains ‘open for business’ while also stabilizing consumer electric bills at a time when Coloradans need it most.”
“We will continue to work toward win-win solutions – those that protect our air, our water, and our communities while also strengthening our economy and creating jobs for Coloradans,” said Pete Maysmith, Executive Director of the Colorado Conservation Voters. “Coloradans value the terrific natural beauty of our state. We are optimistic that our elected leaders will help deliver solutions this session that put Coloradans back to work while protecting the state we all love.”
With more than a million people expected to move to our state in the next decade, Colorado needs to use our finite and precious water resources as efficiently as possible. As part of a larger water efficiency package, conservationists will work to create a reporting system to provide a statewide snapshot of efficiency efforts so that water providers can replicate best practices and as a state we can commit critical resources to the areas of greatest need. Conservationists will also look to help make it easier for new home buyers in Colorado to purchase “Water Smart” homes, with the most water efficient faucets and appliances available being offered as a standard option. Additionally, the conservation community will support the reauthorization of the state’s water conservancy and efficiency program to provide vital planning resources to water providers and local governments.
“We all know money and water are forever linked together here in Colorado,” said Becky Long of the Colorado Environmental Coalition. “We have to develop practical, cost-effective ways to provide all Coloradans with safe, affordable water while encouraging all of our state’s communities to use every drop wisely.”
Higher uranium prices and increasing demand for nuclear power are driving a renewed uranium mining boom in Colorado. Uranium development has left behind a toxic legacy and cost taxpayers over $1 billion in clean-up costs. Last year, the Cotter Corporation announced plans to re-open the Cotter Mill in Canon City. In 1984 the Cotter/Lincoln Park site was designated a superfund site following a long track record of problems including radioactive groundwater pollution and past air emissions of radon, a leading cause of lung cancer. Conservationists and local citizen groups are working with legislators to ensure uranium companies have a clean working record in Colorado prior to getting new permits to renew or expand uranium operations.
“Colorado taxpayers and communities should not have to foot the bill on million-dollar clean up costs for the toxic waste from bad uranium operations,” said Jeff Parsons of Western Mining Action Project. “It is common sense to require all uranium operations to clean up their toxic messes. Period.”
“Our agenda puts Coloradan families and values front and center. The old way of doing business was to assume that the economy and environment were at odds, but Colorado has shattered this myth. We can create even more new jobs and a stronger economy while protecting our environment, “ said Maysmith.