Welcome to What's Your Agenda?, Colorado Politics' weekly publication of trade association priorities for the state's 2023 legislative session.
Conservation Colorado is the largest statewide environmental organization in Colorado. The Denver-based nonprofit works to protect climate, air, land, water and communities through organizing, advocacy and elections.
“Colorado has been a bright spot for progress on climate, conservation and environmental justice in the nation,” said John Magnino, Conservation Colorado’s government affairs director. “Colorado voters overwhelmingly elected pro-conservation state leaders and expect them to act with urgency to protect our climate, air, water and communities.”
In the organization's own words, here are Conservation Colorado's top legislative priorities this session.
No. 1: Water
In Colorado, water demand is growing, but water supply is not. Climate change and dropping reservoir levels threaten water for homes, businesses, and healthy rivers.
This year, Conservation Colorado will help lead legislation to make Colorado more resilient to drought and to address the root causes of poor water quality, especially for disproportionately impacted communities.
Currently, the state is not conserving water at the scale and pace it must in order to ensure that we have enough clean water. Colorado needs new water management tools that are flexible, proactive, responsive and locally-controlled for a more secure water supply.
No. 2: Air quality
Conservation Colorado will work on legislation to address sources of ozone pollution that are hurting our communities and public health.
Despite the state’s progress on climate change, it is still off track on hitting climate targets, and too many Coloradans are still breathing unhealthy air. For the last decade, ozone has been Colorado's worst air quality problem and has worsened in recent summers, in part due to climate change.
Oil and gas is the biggest contributor to the state’s ozone problem, and current state plans will not clean up air to meet federal health standards.
No. 3: Affordable housing
Right now, Colorado doesn't have nearly enough affordable homes to meet the diverse needs of its residents. Current policies are a barrier to more affordable housing that can be built in existing cities and towns near clean public transportation. This causes sprawling development patterns that harm the environment and people’s health.
Because the transportation sector is the largest contributor to Colorado's climate emissions, it is important to increase housing affordability and reduce pollution from cars. Residents need the option to live in places where they can walk, bike and take public transportation.
For the first time, Conservation Colorado will be working with a coalition of environmental and housing advocates to set a new vision for Colorado’s approach to land use.