Daily Camera (Boulder)

Cli­mate con­trast

- By Art Hirsch Climate Change · U.S. News · Society · Disasters · Ecology · Politics · Colorado · Paris · Donald Trump · United States of America · U.S. Environmental Protection Agency · Washington · Colorado College · John Hickenlooper · Gardner, Colorado · Cory Gardner · Cory

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.

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