Mar. 18, 2020 – Denver, CO – This morning, a coalition of young and frontline Coloradans representing 350CO, GreenLatinos, Earth Guardians, and Colorado Latino Forum held a Press Conference prior to a rare joint meeting between the AQCC (Air Quality Control Commission) and COGCC (Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission) to demand leadership and commitment to a rapid just transition and phase out of oil and gas production this decade. The representative line-up provided insight, from eight unique perspectives, into the many implications of oil and gas production, ranging from local to global impacts on all generations and communities.

“The climate crisis is directly impacting the future of the youth, and we need to take action immediately,” said Rakhi Kataria, a 16-year-old youth activist with Earth Guardians. “Colorado cannot realistically claim to be a leader in climate action while calling to expand oil and gas production. As youth, we are doing what we can to protect our future but we need to support and direct action from the AQCC and COGCC.”

Colorado’s current Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Roadmap calls for an increase in oil and gas production as part of the state’s plan to attain its goal of decreasing state greenhouse gas emissions. A recent report on Colorado’s Roadmap, released by 350 Colorado, projects that the state’s greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector would more realistically increase by 61% by 2030, as a result of these current plans in the roadmap. This daunting projection has pushed youth and frontline communities to action to protect their present and future prospects.

“The Governor’s plan will increase oil and gas production in Colorado,” said Patricia Garcia Nelson, a mother of a child at Bella Romero Academy in Greeley – a controversial fracking site considered a prime example of environmental racism. “This is not the way to help or protect communities like mine. There is a producing site less than 700 ft from the soccer field at my son’s school, there have been recorded incidents of high emissions like benzene. This plan is, once again, leaving some of us behind.”

Despite Colorado’s repeated claims of climate leadership, Colorado is the 7th largest producer of natural gas, and 5th largest producer of oil. Colorado’s roadmap includes plans for an 86% increase in oil production and a 41% increase in gas production over the next decade while simultaneously calling for a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

“My generation X was not as bold and aggressive as we should have been to promote regulation for clean energy,” said Xochitl ‘Sochi’ Gaytan, Co-chair of the Colorado Latino Forum. “We are finally at the precipice of a robust enough effort that our younger millennial and Generation Z can now be supported in boldly moving us toward the environmental justice that we all deserve to live in.”

Youth and frontline community members called out the flawed Roadmap plan to increase oil and gas development in hopes of raising public awareness of the issue and to hold the state’s climate commissions accountable for producing viable policy to effectively reduce and ultimately eliminate Colorado’s greenhouse gas emissions. They joined 60 organizations who sent a joint letter to the Polis Administration last month calling for a full phase out of oil and gas development by 2030 to protect public health, safety and welfare of impacted communities and to rapidly reduce 70% of Colorado’s heat-trapping emissions caused by the oil and gas industry.

“We are calling for the commissions and those in power to phase out of oil and gas because the times have changed and so must we if we are to ensure a healthy, livable future,” said Rose Jou, a youth leader with the Fairview High School Net Zero Club. “We want to dare to dream about the future, but we can’t do so with the understanding that we’re headed in the wrong direction.”

“I am here today to say, your hands have been untied, and you have the opportunity to stop all new fossil fuel infrastructure,” said Earth Guardians youth leader Marlow Baines, directing her statement to the Polis Administration Commissioners. “You have the opportunity to make a swift transition away from fossil fuels by 2030. Colorado, if you call yourself a climate champion state, then I ask you for no more empty promises. Stand into your integrity, and cut back on fossil fuel infrastructure, don’t build more.”

“We are going to keep showing up every chance we can and everywhere we can,” said Ean Tafoya, with GreenLatinos. “We need to commit to climate justice – which means following the science and centering improving the lives of those that have been most harmed by our dependence on the fossil fuel industry. We ask all to join us in making common sense ethical and economic decisions like reducing extraction not continuing knowing the greenhouse gas problem is cumulative.”

***Watch Press Conference HERE***