Climate Accountability in Colorado

Boulder Rural firefighter Troy Shipley retreats to a safe zone as a group of trees torch behind him during the Overland Fire outside Jamestown, Colorado, on Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2003.
The fossil fuel industry is leaving a trail of destruction in its wake as it pursues its reckless agenda.

In Colorado, Exxon and Suncor’s profit-driven agenda has imposed severe economic costs on Boulder County, San Miguel County, and the City of Boulder. That’s why we’re handing the bill back to Big Oil. 

 

Colorado communities are suing Exxon and Suncor to make them pay their fair share of the costs of climate change

The purpose of this lawsuit is to ensure that these fossil fuel companies pay their fair share of the climate impacts for which they are responsible. For too long, companies like Suncor and Exxon have reaped record profits by pushing the costs onto communities. As one of the top fossil-fuel producing states, Colorado has experienced rampant fossil fuel extraction that is connected to more air pollution, increased risk of wildfires and droughts, and reduced snowpack. 

 

The fossil fuel industry is taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to get no-strings-attached handouts from the government.

Big Oil has taken advantage of COVID-19 to actively lobby for bailouts, buyouts, regulatory rollbacks, exemption from measures designed to protect the health of workers and the public, non-enforcement of environmental laws, criminalization of protest, among others. This includes:

  • A plan from the federal government to open 1.3 million acres of Colorado Public Lands to fossil fuel extraction. 
  • The American Petroleum Institute successfully lobbied and pressured the EPA to suspend enforcement environmental and pollution regulations. 
  • Efforts to sneak corporate immunity provisions into COVID-19 stimulus packages, which would make the fossil fuel industry immune from lawsuits for harm caused to local communities.

Climate Impacts in Colorado

Colorado is on the frontline of the climate crisis. Its fragile mountain and grassland ecosystems are barometers of climate change. These systems are suffering.

  • Since 1983, average temperatures in Colorado have risen more than 2 degrees F and are continuing to warm.
  • Climate change is reducing Colorado’s snowpack as it snows less often and rains more frequently. The snowpack is the state’s largest reservoir. 
  • Over the next three decades, Boulder County is expected to see significantly worse droughts. Droughts are going to become more extreme, occur more often, and begin to take place throughout the year.
  • In Boulder County, wildfires over the last three decades have burned over 16,000 acres, much of it on public land that the County manages.

Financial Burden on Colorado Taxpayers

The climate crisis is placing a burden on local governments who now must invest considerable financial resources in cleaning up the fossil fuel’s industry’s mess in Colorado.

  • Colorado’s economy depends on its bountiful natural resources. Its outdoor recreation industry alone generates $28 billion in consumer spending a year.
  • Adapting to such a wide range of impacts requires local governments to undertake unprecedented levels of planning and spending.
  • Each wildfire costs San Miguel county at least $200,000 in response costs, not including the costs associated with prevention and recovery.
  • Over the next three decades, Colorado communities will face increased harms, and their costs to respond to climate change could climb into the hundreds of millions of dollars or more.
TAKE ACTION

Now, the fossil fuel industry is taking advantage of the COVID-19 crisis to lobby for bailouts, buyouts, and regulatory rollbacks. And even worse, the fossil fuel industry is trying to take advantage of the COVID-19 crisis to make itself immune from lawsuits brought by communities.

The fossil fuel industry cannot be permitted to profit from its reckless behavior while evading accountability and foisting the costs onto communities. We need to hand the bill back to Big Oil, instead of letting the industry continue to profit at our expense. 

Send a letter to your Congressperson to tell them to say no to fossil fuel profiteering!

2013 09 13 TD Fourmile Canyon Drive 2013 Flood Damage 1