Scoring Colorado lawmakers on conservation

Legalize rain barrels. Incentivize energy efficient construction. Grow solar gardens. Block state control of public lands. Uphold renewable-energy mandates. These were just a few of the priorities in the last legislative session for local environmental protection group Conservation Colorado, which today released a scorecard evaluating state lawmakers.

Overall the scorecard calls the 2015 legislative session a “frustrating” one for conservationists. The report emphasizes that elections matter and points out that many of the bills the organization supported died in the Republican-controlled Senate while many of the bills the group fought originated there.

Even so, conservationists say it wasn’t all a story of partisanship.

The scorecard highlights serious bipartisan support for a successful bill giving tax credits for renewable-energy projects. A failed measure to legalize the residential use of two 50-gallon rain barrels per household also saw some, though not enough, bipartisan support.

Touted as perhaps the biggest win for conservationists this session, measures to give Colorado more state control over federal public lands failed with bipartisan opposition.

“Most importantly, we know that Coloradans are with us,” reads the scorecard. “According to the 2015 Colorado College State of the Rockies poll, 72 percent of Coloradans believe that public lands belong to all Americans. For that matter, the same poll showed that 78 percent of Coloradans support using our water more wisely, and 76 percent want their leaders to pursue renewable energy…”

Eleven Democratic senators scored 100 percent on Conservation Colorado’s priorities. Environmentally conservative Republicans, many of whom are also members of the “stand-your-ground caucus,” earned a staunch 0 percent from conservationists. They include senators Randy Baumgardner, R-Cowdrey, Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, Vicki Marble, R-Littleton, Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, and Laura Woods, R-Arvada.

Anti-conservationists voted for a rollback on the state’s renewable energy standards and for a bill that would refund mineral rights to owners if local regulations prevented them from extracting resources.

Conservationists made a special point of lauding the members of the House State, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, also known as the kill committee, for shutting down numerous bills conservationists didn’t like — many of which came out of the Senate.

You can check out the full scorecard here.

The Colorado Rockies, image in the public domain.