A message to Sen. Gardner
Ten activists from Environment Colorado and Conservation Colorado joined forces in fighting climate change, gathering on the steps outside of Sen. Cory Gardner’s Denver office on Friday, Oct. 8. The group, which included several CU Denver students, had convened to deliver over 650 petitions that the activist groups had gathered in just one month.
The message of the petition was succinct; signatories implored Sen. Gardner to make a stronger stance in fighting global warming. Other members of the activist groups dropped off petitions simultaneously at the senator’s offices in Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo in a coordinated effort that amounted to over 1,600 petitions.
The senator’s track record for supporting climate change policy has been considered problematic by many activists. According to Conservation Colorado’s “How Senator Cory Gardner’s Green Bonafides are in the Red” report, Sen. Gardner has voted five times to block limits on carbon pollution, seven times to oppose scientific reviews of climate change, and 10 times to establish and enforce environmental protections. The decisions of Sen. Gardner broaden the challenges faced by grassroots campaigns like Environment Colorado, and the already poor air quality of the front range continues to worsen.
Benjamin Lynch, a student-activist attending CU Denver, gave his thoughts on the importance of the protest, stating, “Our generation will have to face the long-term consequences of years of inaction. We need our leaders to listen up, understand, and then stand for climate solutions.”
The petition effort took place just days after the Trump administration declared a formal withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. The agreement, which currently bears the signatures of 186 sovereign nations, requires monitoring of emission levels and continued development of solutions to climate change issues. Thus far, only Sen. Michael Bennet and Gov. Jared Polis, who represents Colorado in the United States Climate Alliance, have spoken out against the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the agreement.
Eric Timlin, an organizer of the petition drop-off and Environment Colorado activist, emphasized, “The Trump administration is on the wrong side of history, and we need Colorado elected officials to push back.”
Working alongside Timlin in the petition project was Miguel Ceballos, a member of Conservation Colorado and a mobilization manager for the Conservation Colorado’s Protégete project. The Protégete project aims to tackle pollution through education, mobilization, and coalition building, while giving a voice to underrepresented communities that are most affected by climate change.
Ceballos elaborated on the goals of the Protégete team: “There is a multitude of issues that intersect in Latinx communities. We prioritize caring for our planet along with having clean air to breathe and want our elected officials to act on climate change.”
While Sen. Gardner has frustrated activists with his policy regarding climate change, Environment Colorado and Conservation Colorado consider the petition drop-off a great success.