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Peak and Prairie Enewsletter

Newsletter of the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter

   May, 2011

Electronic Edition

Green homeMessage from the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter Director, Joshua Ruschhaupt:

"Tree-huggers" and Bears "win" the 2011 Legislative Session!
This was a very interesting legislative session.  As you probably already know, the dynamic of this session was dominated by a split-party legislature, with the Republican majority in the House, and the Democratic majority in the Senate.

This played in our favor.  As the new Republican House majority sought to make very big changes to meet their campaign rhetoric from the 2010 elections, the yang to that yin came in the form of the Senate Democratic leadership.  Many bills that we opposed, once passed in the House, failed to pass the Senate.

However, one bill, HB 11-1294, was very different.  You may remember a 1992 ballot initiative that banned spring and summer hunting of black bears in Colorado.  The main reason for this is a scientific one.  Bears don't reach sexual maturity until about 5 years old, and their young wean from the mother through the spring and summer. Appropriately, this hunting ban was passed by a 70% landslide of Colorado voters.

With scientific input by WildEarth Guardians' Wendy Keefover-Ring, and additional environmental community support from the Humane Society, we managed to lobby hard to get HB 11-1294 defeated in the House, fighting major Republican support of the bill.  We even managed to lobby two Republican Representatives to oppose the bill (see the related action alert below)!  We also asked those of you who live in Representative Riesberg's and Vigil's districts to contact them to ask them to make the right decision, because they were two Democrats we needed to come down from the fence on our side.

You made all the difference!  The more we fought this bill, the more the bill's sponsor came to realize his bill didn't have the votes to pass.  We pushed this bill nearly to the end of the legislative session, which ended May 11th at midnight, making it impossible for the bill's sponsor to move forward, and it failed to proceed from the Republican majority House!  This was probably the most hard-fought defensive victory of the legislative session that the Rocky Mountain Chapter led to oppose.  

Special congratulations go to our contract lobbyists Chuck and Sol Malick, the Legislative Committee for acting quickly to oppose this bill, and especially Deirdre Butler, our Wildlife Issues Specialist, who kept the whole campaign against this bill focused and moving forward.  

Our other major victories to highlight are: 

HB 11-1223 -- We helped defeat this bill, which would have changed the make-up of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to a larger membership that would have favored the industry over human health and the environment -- an egregious attempt by industry to control public regulations and decisions.

HB 11-1255
 -- Defeated. We participated with the environmental community in lobbying against this bill, which would have allowed "alternative energy parks" to proliferate, leap-frogging sprawl development issues and including fossil fuels, but it died in the House.  

House Bill 11-1264 -- Defeated. We had a leading role against this bill. This bill would have allowed off-highway vehicles (OHVs) on all roads with speed limits up to 45 mph, giving OHVs unprecedented access to public lands and increased rider safety hazards.

HB 11-1291 -- Passed with bipartisan support! We participated in the effort to get this bill passed. This is the new Regional Haze State Implementation Plan (SIP), which to you means that the plan to clean Colorado's front range air quality by retiring nearly 1,000 MW of coal-fired power plants and improve the emissions from others was implemented with support from both Republicans and Democrats! However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was waiting in the wings for this plan to be finalized.  If not, they would have stepped in and forced regional governments to comply with federal air quality laws through EPA's own plans, which neither party wanted.  

HB 11-1312 -- Defeated. We heavily lobbied against this bill. This would have restructured the Governor's Energy Office (GEO), which former Governor Ritter created to build Colorado's "new energy economy," to replace support for clean energy with "innovative energy."  As  you can imagine, "innovative" is difficult to define, and would have included very hazardous and dirty sources of fuels, including experimental ways to produce traditional fossil fuels.  

Unfortunately, Governor Hickenlooper favored this bill, but, thankfully, his fellow Democrats in the Senate killed it. We believe this one is still alive in spirit in the Governor's office.  Earlier in the session, Senate Bill 11-159 successfully eviscerated the clean energy fund within the GEO, and even though HB 11-1312 would have reinstated a fund, it would have been used for "innovative" energy in addition to clean energy efforts.  We'll be working in the 2012 session to reinstate that clean energy fund.

Senate Bill 11-235 -- This air quality permits bill passed.  We participated in the effort to modify this bill in several ways due to the poor language in the original bill and the momentum the bill had towards passing, including strong support from Governor Hickenlooper and bipartisan interests.  The amended version, mostly with language submitted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), was much better due to our lobbying efforts, including leaders from the Sangre de Cristo Group.  (An expanding steel factory in Pueblo was a centerpiece of the "need" for this legislation, and our leaders lobbied the bill's sponsors from Pueblo and the CDPHE for critical amendments.)

The purported problem this bill attempts to fix is that there is currently a back-log of air quality permits waiting for approval, with the bottle-neck being a component of the permit review process that uses computer modeling and lack of qualified staff to do that modeling.  The proposed fix was to allow third-party companies to do that modeling.  

There are many improved components of the amended version.  It does allow third-party modeling to happen when permit completion is in danger of violating statutory timelines.  But the highlights are that federal-level air quality permitting will remain fully in-house (including the computer modeling), and a conflict of interest clause is included to maintain the integrity of the third-party computer models.  These were two prominent components for which we lobbied.

The 2011 legislative session was challenging to the conservation community in many ways, but we had many victories of which to be proud!   


Priority Conservation Campaigns Updates

No Pueblo Nuclear Power!
VICTORY!  Our team of volunteers met the challenge by getting organized, connecting with the Pueblo and broader Colorado communities, and successfully convincing the Pueblo County Commissioners to defeat this incredibly awful proposal for a new nuclear power plant in arid Pueblo.  Read all about this wonderful victory in this Sierra Club "Scrapbook" article.  (If you're curious about the Sierra Club policy on nuclear power, you can read about our position on our national website.)  Volunteers Joan Seeman, Ross Vincent, and Becky English were the critical organizers of this campaign, so be sure to congratulate them!

Green Homes
How can we develop our cheapest, quickest and cleanest source of energy in Denver?

The Rocky Mountain Chapter is starting a local Denver campaign to scale-up residential energy efficiency and we need your help to make it happen.

Join us to learn more about the opportunities to get involved and give your opinion about how the Sierra Club should move forward to reach our important carbon-saving goals.

If you want to make change happen and get Denver back on track as a sustainable city then this is the meeting for you.  We'll meet in the Alliance Center - 1536 Wynkoop St, Denver, CO 80202 (map) on the 3rd floor conference room Thursday at 6:30pm for about an hour to discuss the campaign and how we can move forward. Your leadership is needed to get this campaign started, and we want to hear your ideas and creative solutions!

RSVP!

Help your Denver-metro area
neighbors reduce climate pollution,
live more comfortably, and
save money at the same time! 


Oil and Gas Drilling in Colorado Communities
The goal of this campaign is to ensure that Colorado water and air resources are clean, that public health and the environment are protected, and that these are not endangered or impacted by irresponsible oil and gas drilling practices.

The oil and gas industry isn't just dirty, they're playing dirty games all the way from local homeowners up to the State Legislature (HB 11-1223 noted above).  Our campaign effectively brings local attention to all of this, and is making a difference from local to national.  The chapter has recently adopted this campaign, which is also working via the Sierra Club Activist Network.  

For more information, or if you're interested in becoming a core-team leader on this campaign, please contact Gopa' Ross at gopa.ross@rmc.sierraclub.org.  Also, check out the latest showing of Gasland, listed in the sidebar of this newsletter.

No Nuclear Protest
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FEATURED ACTION: Thank the Pueblo County Commissioners for Denying Nuclear Power!

By Ross Vincent, Sangre de Cristo Group Chair

Thank you so much for helping us defeat a nuclear power plant in Pueblo! The Pueblo County Commissioners listened to their constituents and voted against building a nuclear power plant.  

Over 400 Sierra Club Supporters emailed the Commissioners asking them to vote against the power plant! A petition opposing the issue also gathered 1,500 signatures from concerned citizens.

Your voice was heard loud and clear. On the evening of April 25th, coincidentally the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, the Pueblo County Commissioners voted down the nuclear plant proposal citing lack of water in the area, nuclear waste worries, and the overall vagueness of the plan.

Please take a couple of minutes to thank the County Commissioners for supporting a clean energy future.

And the biggest thanks goes to you for helping make Colorado a better place for everyone!

Have questions regarding this issue? For more information visit the Sangre de Cristo Group website or Facebook page, or contact Ross Vincent at (719) 561-3117.

Please share this important message with your friends, family, and colleagues.


 
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SECONDARY ACTION: Thank Two Republicans who Voted to Protect Bears from Hunting!

By Deirdre Butler, RMC Wildlife Issues Specialist

HB 11-1294 is dead and the majority vote and voice of Coloradans was upheld. This disgraceful bill failed to garner sufficient votes for a third reading in the state House of Representatives. Please know that your calls and emails helped achieve this success - thank you all so much.

Republican Representative Cheri Gerou District 25 (Jefferson) and Republican Representative Libby Szabo District 27 (Jefferson) did the right thing instead of the political thing and deserve our thanks.

Even if you are not in their congressional district, please take a moment to send them a quick thank you note. They need to know we appreciate them working to support the wishes of the majority in Colorado.

No Nukes in Pueblo!FEATURED GROUP: The Sangre de Cristo Group (SdCG Counties: Alamosa, Baca, Bent, Chaffee, Conejos, Costilla, Crowley, Custer, Fremont, Huerfano, Kiowa, Lake, Las Animas, Mineral, Otero, Prowers, Pueblo, Rio Grande, and Saguache.) 

SdCG Wins Award, Nixes Nuke, Needs You

By Ross Vincent, SdCG Executive Committee Chair


At its Annual Earth Day Dinner on April 22nd this year, the Nature and Raptor Center of Pueblo chose the Sierra Club's Sangre de Cristo Group to receive its first ever Environmental Group Award in recognition for the Club's continuing and remarkably successful efforts to protect human health and the environment in Southeastern Colorado.  

Three days later, on April 25th, the Club celebrated with a lot of committed and caring citizens when the Pueblo County Commissioners voted 3-0 to reject zoning changes that would have paved the way for a nuclear power plant in eastern Pueblo County. It was an extremely important, nationally significant victory, and it was just another day in the trenches for the members of the Sangre de Cristo Group.  

Southern Colorado is under siege, and the SdCG is in the thick of it.  The Army wants to convert most of the interconnected grasslands ecosystems into a massive "joint forces" training area.  Urban sprawl and mismanagement of resulting wastes threaten water quality and flooding along Fountain Creek and the lower Arkansas River. The area’s major polluters are seeking new state and local permits that will result in increased air pollution (see SB 11-235, above). Gas producers are destroying land, air, water and lives in rural counties south of Pueblo (see Oil and Gas Drilling in Colorado Communities, above).  And that's just the tip of the iceberg.  

The SdCG is tackling -- and winning -- important environmental battles. You can help by getting involved.  Email sdcg@rmc.sierraclub.org. Include your contact information, and tell us something about your skills and interests. We need you.  

Check out the Sangre de Cristo Group's latest activities here:  http://rmc.sierraclub.org/sdcg/index.shtml.

If you're not in the SdCG, you can check out all of the latest actions the other groups are involved with by finding your group here:  http://rmc.sierraclub.org/local.shtml



Four corners coal plant

 The Four Corners

coal-fired power plant.
 

FEATURED National Activities: The Beyond Coal Campaign

By Roger Singer, Senior Organizing Representative

The Rocky Mountain Chapter's Sierra Club volunteers are moving full steam ahead with a smart, aggressive plan to transition away from old, dirty coal plants as a primary energy source in Colorado, and to replace them with cleaner energy sources like wind and solar, meanwhile also cleaning up some other coal plants in and out of the state.

Our successes over the past few months of this year are many already, including:

  • Defending the 2010 state-level Clean Air Clean Jobs bill from the coal industry’s legislative attacks, thus keeping intact the bipartisan plan to retire and/or convert 1,000MW of coal based generation in Colorado into cleaner energy sources. 
  • Supporting EPA’s efforts to close three out of five smoke stacks on the Four Corners coal power plant in nearby New Mexico and to place SCR technology on the other two stacks so as to reduce emissions from Mercury, NO2 and other pollutants, and also packing a public hearing on the subject in Durango. 
  • Promoting community solar gardens subscriptions in Boulder County and elsewhere by working with the chapter's Indian Peaks Group
  • Working with college students in Denver and Boulder to go to DC for the huge Powershift conference and marched together in the iMatter youth led march on May 14th in support of a clean, healthy planet for the youngest generation.  Adults were invited, too!
  • Engaging in the ongoing Integrated Resource Plans for future power supplies and usage with the municipally-owned Colorado Springs Utilities and the Rawhide plant near Ft Collins. 
  • Collecting postcard signatures statewide in support of EPA’s proposed new and improved standards for limiting mercury and other toxic air emissions from coal plants. 
Speaking of collecting postcard signatures, we want to collect at least 500 postcards in Colorado by June 15th to help the EPA stick to those proposed improved standards, and we need your help to reach that goal.

If you would like to commit to collecting just 10 to 15 postcards yourself, on your own schedule, please contact me right away at roger.singer@sierraclub.org, and I can provide you the materials and some tips on how to easily meet and exceed your goal quickly. Together, we can show EPA that they are on the right track to cleaning up our air.

Volunteer Leadership Openings!

The RMC Runs on People-Power!

Would you believe that the Sierra Club runs more from volunteer leadership than staff leadership?  It's true --  there are literally thousands of volunteer leaders in different leadership capacities in 63 chapters and over 400 groups nationwide!  Believe it or not, there's only one RMC chapter staff person right now, the Director, working with over 150 great volunteer leaders in the chapter and groups.  So it's critical that you contact us right away, even if you're remotely thinking about spending a few hours or more per week helping out the environmental movement in Colorado. 

Colorado's environment needs your activism and advocacy -- the writing's on the wall! You show up, and we'll train you. There's even a lot of stuff you can do right from home.  Doesn't matter where you are in Colorado -- we're recruiting for the Chapter, and that covers the entire state! If you're interested, we've got a volunteer role to fit your interests, skills, experience, and knowledge.

If, after reading through the roles below, you're still unsure of where you might fit-in, that's no problem, just fill out our volunteer interest form on our website here: http://rmc.sierraclub.org/volunteer.shtml.

Together as an organized movement we will win!

Outings Leaders

Colorado is a hiker's mecca in America.  We're getting ready for a great spring, summer and autumn full of outings.  Right now, we have a task force that is searching for potential outings leaders!  Is that you?  Sierra Club is known for great outings with trained volunteer leaders.  Let us train you to be one of them!  We're looking for 4 to 7 team leaders.  Contact outings@rmc.sierraclub.org for additional information.   

Conservation Support Team Leaders

We're looking for specialists to serve on this new support team.  If you answer yes to any one of the following, then you're probably a great fit to join the Conservation Support Team: Are you a people-person?  Are you good with technology?  Are you a practiced media-wrangler?  Can you shape-up any group of passionate people into an organized, goal-driven team?  Is "coordination" practically your middle-name?  Are you familiar with the basic principles and practices of fundraising?  Can you teach time-managment and workload management practices that help volunteers manage their committments?  We're looking for an entire team of people who can do any one or more of these things!  We're looking for 3 to 6 leaders.  Sign-up with Kirby Hughes now! kirbyhughes@mesanetworks.net.

Conservation Issue Team Leaders

If you want to go straight to work on a conservation issue in a leadership role, then sign-up using our volunteer sign-up form on our website.  It lists several issues that might fit your fancy.  You will be contacted by one of our volunteer coordinators.  Sign-up here: http://rmc.sierraclub.org/volunteer.shtml

Fundraising Team Leaders

As you can tell from the blurb in the top-right column of this newsletter, we're in full-swing of our spring fundraising campaign.  Volunteers play a major role in making the fundraising goals, developing the strategies, and carrying out the Chapter's fundraising plans.  If you are experienced with fundraising, from small contributions to working with large donors, we need your help!  Even if you just want to be an assistant to learn and help out, sign-up!  Our team was recently reestablished, and it's not quite a full team yet, so we need more to join!  We're looking for 3 leaders.  Contact Kerry Miller at 7kmiller@gmail.com.

Capacity-Building Team Leaders

The chapter recently went through an organizational-design process that revealed we need a team of people who focus specifically on building chapter capacity.  For lack of a better word, "capacity" in this context means leadership development and citizen engagement.  This is a team that is starting from scratch, but is critical to the success of the chapter.  First activity: administer a membership survey.  We're looking for 4 to 7 leaders.  If you're excited to try something new, contact chapter Director, Joshua Ruschhaupt at joshua.ruschhaupt@sierraclub.org.

Communications Team Leaders

The chapter is launching our conservation campaigns, as you read above, and those campaigns will need a team of people who are focused on helping develop a media strategy and assisting the campaign teams as needed with carrying that strategy out.  "Communications" runs the gamut -- everything from traditional TV, newspaper, radio, and websites, to new media such as blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.  If you are interested in serving on the Communications Team, contact Kirby Hughes, kirbyhughes@mesanetworks.net.

Legal Committee Leaders

The chapter rarely uses legal means to reach our goals, but it's definitely a strategy we employ when needed.  We're looking to re-establish a new Legal Committee that coordinates with our national Sierra Club lawyers, as well as our volunteer leaders who need advice in legal matters.  We're looking for 4 to 7 leaders.  If you are interested in serving on a chapter Legal Committee, contact Kirby Hughes, kirbyhughes@mesanetworks.net.

Legislative Committee Leaders

We have a great set of current Legislative Committee members -- 5 total, including two former state legislators.  The legislature moves fast and works on everything under the sun in Colorado, so we're recruiting up to 2 more leaders for this committee to learn the ropes and share the workload in this legislative session, and help prepare the chapter for the 2012 legislative session.  You can check out our current legislative tracker here: http://rmc.sierraclub.org/tracker.shtml.  Contact chapter Director Joshua Ruschhaupt at joshua.ruschhaupt@sierraclub.org.

Political Committee Leaders

Our Political Committee Chair recently stepped-down after many successful years in that role. Now we're left with trying to fill those shoes.  This committee seeks a new chair, as well as potential additional new leaders on the Committee.  If you are interested in serving on a chapter Political Committee, contact Kirby Hughes, kirbyhughes@mesanetworks.net.  


We are at 83% of reaching our $24,000 spring fundraising goal!

Only $4,000 left
to hit our goal!

If only 80 people make a contribution of $50, or 400 people make a contribution of just $10, we'll hit our goal!

Or...

If just 33 people make a small monthly contribution of $10 per month, we'll hit our goal!

Ensure a healthy environment for Colorado! Support your Rocky Mountain Chapter. 

We depend on your support to do all of this great work!


Contribute on our secure website today.




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Peak and Prairie


The Peak and Prairie is the official Chapter newsletter.

You can read the current and previous issues of our printed and e-newsletter on the Chapter's
newsletter webpage.



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Outings Calendar
Visit the Chapter's events page to find out about outings, conservation & political activities, and more.



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Forward this newsletter to your friends, and ask them to join you as a member, too!



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Must-See Event: 

 Gasland, The MovieGasland, The Movie


  Who:
Gopa' Ross, RMC Oil & Gas Team Leader

  What:
Gasland, The Movie
"The largest domestic natural gas drilling boom in history has swept across the United States. The Halliburton-developed drilling technology of "fracking" or hydraulic fracturing has unlocked a "Saudia Arabia of natural gas" just beneath us. But is fracking safe? When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination. A recently drilled nearby Pennsylvania town reports that residents are able to light their drinking water on fire. This is just one of the many absurd and astonishing revelations of a new country called GASLAND. Part verite travelogue, part expose, part mystery, part bluegrass banjo meltdown, part showdown."

  When: Thursday, May 19th 7pm

  Where: La Veta, CO Library, 310 Main Street

  Why: The United States is at an energy crossroads. As we work to move beyond coal and oil and toward true, clean energy solutions, the Sierra Club also works to make sure natural gas companies are subject to additional scrutiny and strong national and state safeguards that protect our air, water, and communities.

If you are interested in showing Gasland in your neighborhood, contact Gopa' Ross right away:
719-742-3893, 
gopa.ross@rmc.sierraclub.org.

Additional Showing:
A non-Sierra Club showing of Gasland is happening in Loveland on
May 18th at 7pm at the
Rialto Theater



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Featured Outings

May 28, 2011 (Sat) - Jem Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP)

Join the Indian Peaks Group (IPG) for this nice short hike in the Lumpy Ridge area of Rocky Mountain National Park. The hike is 3.6 miles round-trip, with about 910 ft of elevation gain. The hike goes through a mixed forest and the unique rock formations of Lumpy Ridge to reach the small but cute Jem Lake. Bring hiking shoes, rain gear, sunglasses, sunscreen, water and lunch.
Contact Mike Whiteley at 
303-776-7396.

Jun 18, 2011, (Sat) Black Lake - Glacier Gorge, RMNP

Come with the Indian Peaks Group of the Sierra Club on this beautiful hike in Rocky Mountain National Park.

One of the most scenic areas in the park Glacier Gorge has it all, Alberta Falls, Mills Lake, Longs Peak and the keyboard of the winds are all sites along this hike to Black Lake.

The lake sits at the end of the gorge surrounded by water falls and high rock walls. This is a difficult hike of about ten miles with 1440 ft of elevation gain but well worth it as few hikes have this much scenery all in one spot.

Bring hiking boots, lunch and the ten essentials. Contact
Mike Whiteley at 
303-776-7396.

Check out this website for further information, maps and pictures of this area of RMNP. 

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/flashlight);
First aid kit;
Emergency Shelter (tarp, bivy sack, tent);
Repair kit (tools, knife, cord, 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 Mike Whiteley at
303-776-7396.

 





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