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Governor Undermines Climate Action Plan in Colorado

Over the last few years, Colorado has been ravaged by near cataclysmic climate-change caused disasters—floods, wildlfires, and drought—and so you’d think that when the state unveiled its new “Climate Action Plan,” as it did last week, the plan would take a very aggressive approach to fighting and mitigating climate change.

But that’s not what the plan does, which was spearheaded by Colorado Democrat Gov. John Hickenlooper who used to work for the oil and gas industry. Gov. Hickenlooper is known far and wide for drinking Halliburton’s fracking fluid and suing local cities that banned fracking.

With this final Climate Action Plan, Gov. Hickenlooper is sending a new message to Colorado citizens: climate change is coming, the state is not going to do much to try and stop it, and you need to adapt, baby, adapt.

Weighing in at 93 pages, Colorado’s new Climate Action Plan is a slick, glossy, amalgam of smooth rhetoric, pretty pictures and soft-ball recommendations. In addition the plan purposely obscures uncomfortable facts. For example:

  • On page 3, the plan says that greenhouse gas emissions in Colorado will decrease “per unit of Gross State Product” but omits discussing that actual greenhouse gas emissions have and will continue to increase due to population growth and increased fracking for oil and gas.
  • Later on page 19, the plan finally shows a graph indicating that actual greenhouse gas emissions will increase by 77 percent from 1990 to 2030—and all through Hickenlooper’s eight-year reign as governor—but completely fails to mention or discuss this startling fact.
  • Throughout, the plan discusses the impacts that climate change will have on Colorado—on water, public health, agriculture and ecosystems—but fails to sound any kind of alarm bells that bold and immediate action needs to take place.
  • Most of the plan focuses on soft-ball recommendations for “adaptation,” which means that Hickenlooper pretty much accepts that climate change will happen rather than that he will be working to stop it.
  • Finally the plan has the audacity to actually say, “Colorado is on the right track.”

Colorado climate change emissions will increase by 77 percent from 1990-2030, but the Climate Action Plan says "Colorado is on the right track."

A draft of the Climate Action Plan was secretly sent out for review a few months ago to “selected stakeholders,” rather than opened up for broad public comment. This decision to keep the public outside the process continues in a long line of Hickenlooper’s actions to circumvent authentic public input about his aggressive pro-fossil fuel policies and drill, baby, drill mindset.

Colorado is a political swing state that is often in the crosshairs of national elections. As we head into the 2016 election, the level of caution of state level Democrats is increasing as the months go by, and so we should expect even more tepid responses, or worse, to climate change and other fossil fuel controversies. And now with this final Climate Action Plan, Gov. Hickenlooper is sending a new message to Colorado citizens: climate change is coming, the state is not going to do much to try and stop it, and you need to adapt, baby, adapt.

Gary Wockner, PhD, is an environmental activist based in Fort Collins. Contact Gary at Gary@GaryWockner.com.

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