Peak & Prairie

Rocky Mountain Chapter's
Online Newsletter
August / September 1999


Sierra Club Scorecard Shows Legislature Out of Touch with Coloradans

by Greg Casini, RMC Chair


Polls consistently show that a bipartisan majority of Coloradans favor strengthening the state’s environmental laws. More than two-thirds of Colorado voters support laws to prevent suburban sprawl, encourage mass transit, protect agricultural land and open space, improve air quality and protect ground water.

Yet, despite this strong public support for safeguarding Colorado’s environment, our state legislators, emboldened by the election of a new governor (the first in more than two decades), resurrected a number of anti-environmental measures in this legislative session that had either failed to pass in previous years or had been vetoed. ALL of them passed this year, and ALL of them were signed into law by Governor Owens. 

These anti-environmental bills will, among other things, promote sprawl by giving developers special rights at the expense of local communities (SB 218 - Property Rights), potentially jeopardize the health of local residents by allowing polluters to keep information on their environmental violations secret (SB 70 - Environmental Audit Privilege), and hamper efforts to restore endangered species in Colorado by placing these decisions in the hands of politicians (HB 1229 - Reintroduction of Endangered Species). 

The Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Sierra Club has just released its annual legislative scorecard of state lawmakers’ voting records on environmental bills for the 1999 session. It is reproduced in this issue of the Peak & Prairie. Please take the time to read it - the scorecard shows clear reason for Coloradans to be concerned: 

In 1997 there were only four senators with scores of 40 percent or lower. In 1998 that number increased to 13. This year a majority of state senators (18) rejected most efforts to protect Colorado’s environment. The numbers in the House of Representatives are even more alarming: 15 in 1997, 21 in 1998, and 37 in 1999. Fully 57 percent of state representatives this year scored 40 percent or lower and defied the wishes of the majority of their constituents who want strong protections for Colorado’s environment. 

The 1999 scorecard illustrates very clearly that the state legislature has ignored Colorado’s bipartisan support for conservation and has failed to address the top concerns of the citizens they were elected to represent. 

This disconnect between the people and the politicians must be addressed if we are to protect Colorado’s environment for future generations - and your help is critical. Please join us in our efforts to educate the public on the voting records of our state legislators by writing letters to the editors of your local newspapers, and becoming involved in the Chapter’s statewide legislative efforts or assisting your local Sierra Club group. 

Colorado’s lawmakers will only see the light when they begin to feel the heat. Working together, the 14,000+ members of the Rocky Mountain Chapter can send a loud and clear message to the state legislature and the Governor, and we can make a difference for Colorado.


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