What inspires you to be environmentally conscientious?
“Here in Colorado, I’ve seen changes outdoors backpacking and mountain climbing. I’m seeing that pikas are disappearing because their life zone is moving above a livable climate. I don’t see as many camp robbers and other birds as I used to see. In 1981, I had my honeymoon in St. John in the Caribbean and the corals and fish were spectacular. Went back 10 years later and they were already disappearing. Now when I snorkel, I see that it’s been decimated. About half of our coral reefs are dying now.
Also, in Glacier National Park 37 years ago, the glaciers were spectacular. Since then, I’ve seen pictures and hope to go back this year to it see in person. But from what I have seen, the glaciers are basically gone. Looking at science was a true wake-up call. James Hansen’s (NASA) models are the scariest by far. His recently published work is terrifying – catastrophic destruction of Antarctic shelf. Leading to sea level rise. Think Miami underwater.”
“Science says climate is changing. We are causing it. We need to fix it. Climate change is the biggest moral crisis since dealing with slavery. We need to reduce carbon emissions in the next 5-6 years or 25 years from now there will be a huge stress on human civilization.”
What would you say was your biggest role as State Representative?
“I’ve always been interested in clean air and clean water…and being able to enjoy the wilderness. House Bill 1001 (2010) was the keystone of my work. Every session since that legislation passed (1001) in 2010, I’ve been working on bills to cut carbon directly (utility), changing mobile (more efficient vehicles), cut carbon footprint of building. I’ve gotten ideas on how commercial PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) can be more eco-friendly.
During my tenure, we put out the most aggressive electric vehicle tax credit in the country. I received a $6,000 tax credit (refund) for purchasing Chevy Volt (Which is a plug-in electric with an auxiliary gas engine that runs as a generator to charge the battery)/45 miles/day average range). [The all-electric Chevy Bolt has an approximate range of 230 miles per charge]. It’s more efficient and less polluting than a gas powered vehicle. That’s even taking into consideration that the vehicle may have been produced in an electric (coal fired) factory.”
What other steps have you personally taken to reduce your carbon footprint?
“We have super insulated our house, and installed a high performance boiler. We have a swamp (evaporative) cooler instead of a traditional air conditioner, but the insulation has made it so we don’t run the swamp cooler any more. We have a shares in a community solar garden, bi-weekly recycling (recycle four times what we put in the landfill). My wife is a gardener and we compost regularly. I am the Transportation Energy Committee Chair. And, I am going to the Rocky Mountain Institute’s eLab‘s Accelerator Event in Sundance, Utah in a couple weeks. They are working towards 100% renewables.”
What do you see as Colorado’s biggest environmental challenge?
“Cutting carbon emissions.
Big name companies like Google, Apple and other big name companies are committed to converting to renewable energy. So, Colorado should work towards that, too.
(Note – this was concerning the REA’s not Xcel or Black Hills. Including it either makes things a bit confusing or requires substantially more explanation). Stationary sources of carbon emissions are one of the biggest challenges (top 10 are power plants. The next 10 big emitters include cement plants, landfills, gas plants).”
How can the average Coloradoan improve our environment?
“Focus on the big picture. Push political systems to start dealing with it properly. We are in dire straits at the National level and playing good defense the State level. Locally, we can have a huge impact. Push city councils and county commissioners to make a difference. Recycling, saving energy is good, but we really need to take the big steps to have a serious impact. Biggest impact is to cut our carbon emissions.
Our #1 issue is cutting carbon emissions.”