Letters 2/4: On elections and oil and gas

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Colorado prioritizes oil and gas

Gov. Polis and most Colorado leaders continue to prioritize a bankrupt industry, responsible for 70% of Colorado’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, over my health and safety. A recent report from 350 Colorado, a statewide environmental advocacy organization, found that the oil and gas sector is currently responsible for 70% of Colorado’s GHG emissions in comparison to the state’s estimation of just 17.3%.

And while Polis’s release of Colorado’s GHG Roadmap’s HB 19-1261 seemed promising, it actually allows for a 61% increase in GHG emissions. This report proves that the state has been severely underestimating Colorado’s GHG emissions. Thus, the state’s plan to increase oil and gas production while still meeting GHG emission reduction targets is an unconvincing illusion. 

Even when following the Roadmap’s assumed reduction in oil and gas, it is not enough. We need a complete phase-out of oil and gas by 2030, which can be achieved through a 10% per year reduction in GHG emissions. The use of oil and gas cannot continue, and any plan trying to save Colorado from climate devastation that still accounts for large amounts of oil and gas by 2030 is not a good one. 

Colorado could lead the global, just transition from fossil fuels to renewables if it used honest data on actual GHG emissions to influence policy decisions, not assumed and self-reported data from the oil and gas industry. 

Coloradans are tired of watching our forests be burned, our waters be poisoned, and air be toxined. A just transition from fossil fuels to renewables, one that supports energy workers and prioritizes frontline communities, is not only possible but is what we deserve.

Megan Neufeld/Lyons

Improving elections

The For the People Act, the first bill introduced this year in Congress, will improve American elections by making our election system more free, fair and accessible to all eligible Americans. This legislation will restore the Voting Rights Act, improve automatic voter registration, modernize the public financing of elections through small-donor matching funds, end gerrymandering, and restore transparency in our government. LWV of Boulder County joins with voting rights groups around the country in our enthusiastic support of this transformative bill.

Even though Colorado has already taken many steps to improve our election process and voter systems — such as restoring voting rights to previously incarcerated community members, and putting in place anti-gerrymandering processes for drawing congressional district maps — we need action to make these and other changes on a national level. The bill also includes campaign finance provisions. For example, a small-donor public-match financing process would help first-time election candidates, including those from underrepresented populations; funds for the public match would come not from taxpayers, but from a nominal surcharge on criminal and civil penalties assessed against corporate wrongdoers. 

If passed, this legislation will enshrine into law what all Americans know: that everyone deserves a voice in our democracy. 

Elizabeth Crowe, co-president, League of Women Voters of Boulder County