Daily Camera (Boulder)
It is not surprising that the citizens of Colorado care about climate change and the impacts upon our quality of life. According a 2020 survey conducted by the Colorado College, 59 percent want to see climate change action and 75 percent want public officials to have a plan to reduce carbon.
Climate change is and will continue to have profound impacts on our environment in Colorado. As a former environmental engineer who has worked in the climate change risk arena, I know that climate change will have a profound and potentially irreversible impact on our quality of life unless select the best possible senatorial candidate.
There is a stark difference between senatorial candidates John Hickenlooper and incumbent Cory Gardner. Here are a few important differences on how the candidates view the climate change threat.
Gardner has said: “I’ve said it before in 2014 there’s no doubt pollution contributes to climate change” and “Climate change is real. I’ve been on the record saying that.” However, Gardner has voted 45 times against climate change legislation.
Hickenlooper believes that climate change is the defining challenge of our time, and Colorado is on the front lines of this crisis, with shorter winters, catastrophic floods and wildfires, and continued air pollution. He believes that the health, economic well being, and national security are all at risk.
Gardner voted to block legislation to reduce methane (a powerful greenhouse gas pollution) releases by the oil and gas industry that contributes to climate change as well as being a health hazard from toxic air pollutants.
Hickenlooper developed first in-the-nation methane emission regulations. He brought industry and environmental groups together to limit methane pollution from oil and gas wells. Colorado’s regulatory rules were estimated to cut methane leaks by 50 percent (340,000 car emissions).
Although Gardner he acknowledges the existence of climate change, the senator supported leaving the Paris accord agreement and has opposed efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
Hickenlooper committed Colorado to the Paris climate agreement even after President Donald Trump’s withdrawal, issuing an executive order to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26 percent and he will vote to have the
U.S. rejoin the Paris climate agreement.
Gardner voted against legislation to require Congress to accept the scientific findings that man-made carbon pollution contributes to climate change with wide range of negative effects. Gardner voted to repeal Environmental Protection Agency scientific findings that greenhouse gases endanger human health and the environment.
Hickenlooper promotes a science-based approach in addressing climate change and managing the environment. As Colorado’s governor, he brought scientific professionals, industry, and community leaders together to launch clean energy projects. As a geologist and scientist, he proposes bringing fact-based understanding of Earth sciences to the Senate.
Gardner voted against the establishment of a K-12 students climate change education grant program. Participating states would have competed for grants to create climate change science and solutions curriculum, to fund teacher training, and to achieve sustainable building standards.
Hickenlooper proposes an innovative outreach and education program to K-12 students and beyond to create a new Climate Corps Program, challenging young people to pursue careers that help combat global climate change. It would include a new set of scholarship and loan forgiveness programs to encourage a new generation of renewable energy experts, carbon-capture specialists, energy-storage scientists, and entrepreneurs.
Gardner touted himself as an oil and gas defender in an “era of progressive attacks.” Gardner has voted to block efforts to reduce methane emissions by oil and gas, and voted to prohibit the federal government from establishing baseline protections on oil and gas and to delay an EPA report on fracking impacts on drinking waters. Gardner connects the Colorado Senate Bill 19-181 (to protect communities and the environment from oil and gas operations) to oil and gas layoffs saying: “Don’t let the radical left destroy jobs.”
Hickenlooper recognizes that oil and gas resources are transitional fuels towards a 100 percent renewable energy economy with net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, with an interim goal of a 43 percent reduction by 2030. He believes that oil and gas operations must be protective to the environment and the local community and that climate change will promote new jobs in the renewable energy field.
Sen. Gardner was sent to Washington to protect and to look out for the best interests of Colorado and he has failed. He acknowledges the threat of climate change, and yet he has totally ignored the present climate change risk. Continued drought, extreme temperatures, and wildfires all demonstrate that climate change is real.
This comparison between senatorial candidates speaks for itself.