Newsletter of the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter
Message from the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter Director, Joshua Ruschhaupt:
"Lobbyists, Gasland, and OHV's, Oh My!"
Please welcome our Legislative Committee Chair, Mary Edwards, as a guest writer for this space. She's giving you a great window into the 2013 legislative session, just ended in early May. Our Legislative Committee adores Mary for her passion and 150 percent effort as Chair. Great job, Mary!
And my thanks to you and the thousands of Sierra Club members and supporters who took action when the RMC needed your support this legislative session.
Thank you for all you do!
2013 Colorado Legislative Wrap-Up: Because we're all "hitched" together By Mary Edwards
P.S. Make sure you check out details about Gasland Part II in the sidebar - there will be limited public opportunities to watch this movie, and the "Uncompahgre Group supports road closings in western Colorado" article below!
Legislative Committee Chair
Legislative Committee Chair
"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe."; Sierra Club Founder John Muir in 1911.
The 69th session of the Colorado legislature ended May 8
and what we had hoped to be a stellar session for correcting oil and gas
industry abuses plaguing the state ended up being a nonstarter – for many
While it is true that both houses are Democrat
controlled, Colorado's senate is not pro-conservationist, with several
Democratic senators voting against bills that could have made a difference.
Hopefully we can rectify this failing in the next election season. In addition,
Gov. John Hickenlooper remains committed to protecting the interests of the oil
and gas industry over the state's citizens and its environment, as the media
has often reported. Legislators left oil and gas bills until last, first
tackling other controversial topics such as gun control and same-sex civil
marriage, leaving little time, energy or political capital left for legislators
to give to the environment. And according to an analysis of data maintained by
Colorado's Secretary of State, the oil and gas industry spent close to a
million dollars opposing any changes to the industry's license to pollute and
tromp on the rights of the state's citizens.
The conservation community fought hard, although what finally hit the floor mid-way through the session wasn't something that would fundamentally change the way the oil and gas industry does business in Colorado, legislators and the state's citizens are now more aware of the issues, as highlighted in the following bills:
- It was disheartening indeed to see Colorado's senators side with industry on HB1269,on reducing conflicts of interest within Colorado's oil and gas regulatory agency (COGCC). We were so close to stopping the flow of using taxpayer dollars to promote an industry quite capable of promoting itself. As it is, our regulatory agency continues business as usual with its conflicting mission: Regulating the industry it also promotes.
- In January of 2013 the COGCC adopted a rule requiring baseline and post-completion groundwater monitoring for oil and gas operators - excluding the Greater Wattenberg Area. HB1316 would have fixed that glaring omission, but evidently some senators don't believe all Coloradans are equal when it comes to safe drinking water supplies –1316 also died at the hands of the senate.
- A bright spot – COGCC has 16 inspectors for more than 50,000 active wells, and although Sen. Matt Jones didn't get all the extra inspectors he asked for in SB202, he pushed the issue and the Joint Budget Committee funded 11 more.
Several times throughout the session, LegCom members
spoke with House and Senate leadership and were assured that bills to address
oil and gas industry shortcomings would be forthcoming. RMC's proposed bill to
close the setback loophole on abandoned oil wells was one of those bills; this
was to be included under a bill on local control, but that bill, too, fizzled
out, and with it our goal to close the loophole.
That said, Colorado does have the opportunity to be the
nation's star if Gov. Hickenlooper signs into law Senate Bill (SB) 13-252,
which would increase the percentage of rural Colorado's electricity coming from
renewable energy sources to 20 percent by the 2020 (the current mandate is 10
percent). LegCom worked in conjunction with the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal
Campaign as well as the conservation community to get this bill passed – thanks
to all of you who wrote and called your legislators! Your efforts made a
difference! The governor has until the first week of June to sign it, and he's
receiving pressure to veto it. If you haven't done so yet, give Gov. Hickenlooper a call at
303-866-2471 and ask him to please sign the bill, which brings more clean and affordable energy online, creates jobs, decreases
our dependence on fossil fuels and reduces greenhouse gases.
Environmental champion Rep. Randy Fischer introduced
House Bill (HB) 13-1044, on clarifying the definition and use of graywater
which we supported; it also is waiting for Gov. Hickenlooper's signature.
Bad bills which died the death they deserved include:
- HB13-1018 would have allowed gas operators to sell their
radioactive wastewater to counties to spray on dirt roads for dust suppression.
Colorado's water supplies will continue to be at risk because the Energy Policy
Act of 2005 exempted hydraulic fracturing (fracking) from complying with
federal environmental regulations, such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water
Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. Do you think we should tackle this in 2014? If so, contact me at the email below.
- SB13-003 was a repeat of last year's attempt at including
methane gas released from coal mines as a renewable energy source. While we
support the capture of methane, it does not qualify as a renewable energy.
Battles won this past session depended upon our members and supporters –
you – writing and calling your legislators, as well as strong lobbying efforts
from Chuck Malick and Sol Malick. Legislative Committee members Kirk
Cunningham, Becky English, Myrna Poticha, Lauren Swain and Ross Vincent provide
valuable leadership and expert bill analyses, along with RMC's legislative
advisors and many conservation issue volunteer leaders. And to win battles – especially
major ones – the Sierra Club needs a lot of help from other organizations. These are
coalition victories – sometimes with strange bedfellows.
Sierra Club founder John Muir said, "When we try to pick out
anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe."
Ahead of his time, he spoke as a seer and a poet, as this was 1911 when the
world was still in the grip of classical physics' reductionism. Einstein's
Nobel Prize winning discoveries were just beginning to ripple upon humanity's
consciousness. What Muir felt in his spirit, physicists were revealing in the
lab. This interconnectedness should be a guiding, foundational value of
legislative policies impacting our wetlands, wilderness, air, water,
transportation systems, energy and mineral extractions. It answers the question
of "Why?" Because we're all hitched together.
For a complete list of bills the RMC took a position on
in 2013, see our Legislative Tracker. If you have any questions, or are interested in being a part of next year's legislative effort, e-mail me
Step Strong Colorado—A benefit to protect the environment
By David Read
RMC Fundraising Chair
Hike and have fun – for a purpose – at this year's premier fundraising event to promote and protect Colorado's environment, including its remaining wilderness areas and outdoors recreation spaces.
Step Strong Colorado! A Benefit Hike to Protect the Environment, will be Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013, at Roxborough State Park.
Choose a hike from four different trails, with varying experience levels from easy to challenging; or, tailor your hiking to incorporate one or more or all trails to enjoy your day your way.
There will be free parking, complimentary food and prizes to compete for. So what are you waiting for?
If you are not a hiker or are unable to make the trek to Roxborough, that is not problem. You can be a virtual hiker and hike with us in spirit, perhaps even on a trail wherever you may be.
Whether you join us at the park or in your heart, thank you so much for your support and all you do for the environment.
Uncompahgre Group supports road closings in western Colorado
By Carol Carpenter
RMC Communications Team
A more natural and larger habitat for elk, deer, raptors and other wildlife in western Colorado's wilderness areas is a pleasant thought for Eric Rechel.
A Rocky Mountain Chapter Uncompahgre Group (UG) co-chair, Rechel and other UG members are supporting a draft proposal by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that would, if approved, greatly limit or prevent motorized access to about 2,500 miles of public roads in the western part of the state.
Take an early morning urban outing
By Carol Carpenter
RMC Communications Team
Sunrise on Wagon Trail Park
It was hard to believe it was mid-April, but much snow had fallen the day before. Yes, one of Colorado's snowiest months can be April, and we needed the precipitation but, still, it felt like time for an end to the month's on-and-off snowstorms and below freezing temperatures.
I watched the fluffy, white flakes descend steadily for hours while staying inside my southwest Denver condo, baking brownies partly to warm the kitchen.
Robert Adams' contemporary landscape photography
By Mike Whiteley
RMC Outings Team
Robert Adams is one of the top landscape photographers working today. His work is in every major art museum in the country, in many public and private collections, and many books have been published of his work. Adams was the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts Photographer's Fellowships, two John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowships, the Peer Award of The Friends of Photography and the Hasselblad Award for his achievements in photography. He has had a profound influence on many contemporary photographers.
Adams was raised in Colorado and did most of his first photography work here, some of which was influential. His book The New West in 1974 and the 1975 exhibition New Topographics signaled a radical shift away from traditional depictions of landscape. Pictures of transcendent natural vistas gave way to unromanticized views of stark industrial landscapes, suburban sprawl, everyday scenes and ordinary vistas.
Featured Volunteer: Dave Bryan
New RMC ExCom Chair faces big challenges
By Carol Carpenter
RMC Communications Team
Dave Bryan has a big job ahead of him. Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter's (RMC) new volunteer Executive Committee (ExCom) chair, Dave is already making exciting plans for a successful and productive term in office.
A member of the Pikes Peak Group since 2002, the Colorado Springs resident sees his main ExCom chair goals as the following: Using social media for a greater outreach for the Chapter; finding additional funding for a part-time organizer in the Chapter office; and promoting collegiality, cooperation and respect among the Chapter's many dedicated and passionate activists.
RMC seeks Convio admin/newsletter designer
By Carol Carpenter
RMC Communications Team
Our Rocky Mountain Chapter (RMC) Communications Team takes great pride in our monthly Peak and Prairie e-newsletter. Our goal is to provide our members and friends important and timely news, outings and events information, action alerts and more related to the environmental issues we all care about.
Recently our talented newsletter designer and Convio admin, Nathan Cook, had to step down from this position. Now we are seeking a new volunteer who would enjoy using our web-based Convio software to design our monthly newsletter, action alerts, and other email communications. As a member of the chapter's Communications Team, you would be trained to use the straightforward Convio program to accomplish these tasks.
Updated: Volunteer Leadership Openings!
If, after reading through the available roles, you're still unsure of where you might fit in, that's no problem. Just fill out the volunteer interest form on our website at http://rmc.sierraclub.org/volunteer.shtml.
Together, as an organized movement, we will win!
Priority Conservation Campaign: Oil & Gas Campaign
The Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter's most organized campaign is launching, and you can help! We're working on recruiting the few final candidates for the core leadership team, and we're also looking for volunteers throughout the state who can organize, or help an organizer in your home, city, town, or rural area. The goal is to build a network of volunteers throughout the state who learn about the industry, its practices, and what you can do about it locally. Sign up with Joshua Ruschhaupt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Continue reading the list of available volunteer opportunities...
In this issue:
- Director's Message: 2013 Colorado Legislative Wrap-Up
- GASLAND Part II
- Step Strong Colorado!
- Uncompahgre Group supports road closing in western Colorado
- Take an early morning urban outing
- Robert Adams' contemporary landscape photography
- Featured Volunteer: Dave Bryan
- RMC seeks Convio admin/newsletter designer
- "True" Tales of Eco-Disaster Cartoon
- Volunteer Leadership Openings
- Go Solar!
- P&P Archive
- Be a member!
- Must-See Event: GASLAND Part II
- Featured Outings
- Wish List
- Story Idea?
If you are the proud owner of a single-family home, and you want to reduce Colorado's climate impact, you can install a solar system on your roof!
Sierra Club RMC partners with Sungevity to employ local, certified solar installers.
Get your free
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Sungevity supports Sierra Club with a great contribution with the completion of every installation we refer to them.
The Peak and Prairie is the official Chapter newsletter.
Read the current and previous issues of our printed and
e-newsletter on the Chapter's
Visit the Chapter's events calendar page to find out about outings, conservation and political activities, and more.
Not a Sierra Club member yet? No problem -- just "Join Now!" to become a member today at just $15!
Follow us on Facebook to get our latest updates and relevant news, or on Meetup to join our latest activities, activism, and advocacy events. We're on Twitter, too!
GASLAND Part II
WHO: Documentarian Josh Fox screens his newest movie in person! Gasland Part II is an HBO Documentary Films release presented by Gasland Grassroots. It will premiere on HBO on July 8th.
WHAT: The story the oil & gas companies don't want you to know. An unflinching investigation of the toxic influences polluting our democracy.
Happy Hour in the Hills!
Golden Gate Canyon
June 7, 2013 (Fri)
5:30 p.m.- 9 p.m.
What better way to celebrate summer than by spending your Friday evenings hiking the foothills instead of being stuck in some bar?
We'll spend each Friday (June-July) out in the foothills on short hikes that average around 5 miles round-trip.
This hike is about 5 miles round-trip with an elevation gain of 775 feet. This hike is rated easy to moderate and will have several stops so that we can chat and get to know one another because it IS happy hour after all!
Remember that Golden Gate is a State Park and therefore has a park fee-$7 per vehicle-so I highly recommend carpooling to this hike.
All participants must sign a waiver in order to go on this hike. These hikes are for adults only with no dogs.
Remember that it is summer, so it will be hot and sunny; bring plenty of water, sunscreen and a hat. You may also want to bring something to eat since we will be out hiking at dinnertime.
Please contact Colleen Finnerty at email@example.com or 303-388-1058 for information or to sign up by 10am June 6th.
Chautauqua Hike and Brunch
Chautauqua (map), Boulder, Colorado
Sunday, May 19th, 2013
April showers (or snowstorms) bring May flowers, and May brings the Annual RMC Gay and Lesbian Sierrans (GLS) Chautauqua Hike and Brunch.
Always a popular event, we'll take a leisurely stroll for a few hours beneath the Flatirons in Boulder's magnificent Chautauqua Park (2-3 miles, 600 foot elevation gain max), then head to the Dining Hall for their Sunday Brunch.
The Dining Hall is under new management this year, so the Sunday Brunch Buffet is no longer, but here's a link the new Brunch menu.
Wear sturdy hiking shoes, bring rain gear, water and sun protection and $20-25 or so for Brunch.
Limited to 15 participants. Email Bill to RSVP.
Please contact Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP.
THE "TEN ESSENTIALS" -- The Sierra Club recommends the following be carried at all times when hiking in the backcountry:
Navigation (map and compass);
Fire (matches, lighters, and accelerant);
Signaling Device (whistle or mirror);
Sun Protection (sunglasses and sunscreen);
Insulation (extra clothing);
Nutrition (extra food);
Hydration (extra water and tablets);
Illumination (headlamp or flashlight);
First Aid Kit;
Emergency Shelter (tarp, bivy sack, and tent);
Repair Kit (tools, knife, cord, and tape).
OUR RMC WEBSITE
HAS OTHER OUTINGS INFO THAT MIGHT BE OF INTEREST -- A Sierra Club
Sign-In and Liability Waiver form must be signed before participating in
outings -- if you desire to review a copy, please contact your trip
The RMC is waiting with open arms to receive your well-loved
equipment. As the saying goes, one person's trash is another person's
treasure! If you can offer any of the following in working order, we'd
be very grateful! Please do not offer anything that will take more time
and/or money to repair than if we spent the money to buy it.
-Working desktop or laptop; PC computers with or without functional screens and at minimum Windows 2003 as an operating system, XP preferred.
-Flat screen monitors.
-Portable projection screen.
Thanks in advance! Contact Chapter Director Joshua Ruschhaupt right away!
If you have a story idea for the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter Peak and Prairie, just send a quick email to
Be sure to get in touch with the Communications Team if you are a RMC volunteer interested in being featured in an article -- we want to let others know the great work you're doing and who you are!