Press Release

January 11th, 2024

Contacts: Micah Parkin, 350 Colorado, Safe & Healthy CO, and Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate –, 504-258-1247

Over 60 Groups Host “State of the Climate Address” at State Capitol During 2024 Legislative Session Kickoff to Highlight Colorado’s Lack of Progress to Meet Climate & Environmental Justice Goals

 Groups call on Gov. Polis and legislators to commit to a rapid just transition from fossil fuels to a clean energy future

Denver, CO – On Thursday, over 60 groups hosted a “State of the Climate Address” on the East Lawn of the State Capitol just after Gov. Polis’ delivered his State of the State speech kicking off the 2024 Colorado Legislative Session. The groups said they hosted the event to raise awareness that Colorado is not on track to meet climate, air quality, or environmental justice goals established by prior legislation. 

“We need bolder action from state leaders to speed up the transition off fossil fuels to clean energy to protect this and future generations”, said Micah Parkin, Executive Director of 350 Colorado and a spokesperson for Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate and Safe & Healthy Colorado. “We have a responsibility to phase out permitting for new oil and gas wells, because the pollution from fracking for oil and gas is already causing major harm to our health, climate, air, and water resources and our economy, costing Coloradans over $1 billion every year according to a report from the CO Fiscal Institute”.

2023 has now been confirmed as the hottest year on record. In December of 2023, the global climate conference COP28 ended with a call to transition away from fossil fuels, and 128 nations called for a “phase out of fossil fuels”. Scientists warned that the world is not on track to keep global temperatures below 1.5C and is likely crossing that threshold much earlier than predicted – likely this year for all practical purposes, according to NASA scientist James Hansen. 

Scientists warn that bolder action is needed to limit temperature rise. According to the International Panel on Climate Change, “the world needs to cut its emissions from 2019 levels by as much as 43% in the next six years, 60% by 2035 and reach net zero by 2050 in order to prevent compounding impacts, such as thawing permafrost which releases long-trapped greenhouse gasses, triggering even more warming.”

“It is with compassion and love for the adults, for the children, and for the generations of the future that we call for the full and speedy transition to clean, cheaper, renewable energy,” said Rev. Jeff Neuman-Lee of the Together Colorado Climate Justice Committee.Already the suffering from the hotter climate has grown. Already we have seen the storms attacking communities across America and across the globe. Already we are seeing the early famines that will increase in magnitude. And, if we don’t change our behavior, adults standing here could see a famine that spreads across the globe, crushing human civilization in its path. Later is too late.”

Meanwhile, Colorado is not on track to meet pollution reduction goals, to meet climate goals, or to address the severe air quality issues along the Range. The state is already experiencing severe climate impacts, which reports warn will worsen if greater action isn’t taken to reduce emissions

Over 5,000 permits for new oil and gas wells have been permitted since Gov. Polis took office at the same time that scientists worldwide have said the world cannot continue to bring online new fossil fuel development and keep global temperatures below 1.5C. 

The oil and gas industry is the #1 source of emissions from Colorado causing global heating, which is increasing drought, wildfires and temperature extremes threatening lives and other sectors of Colorado’s economy. Oil and gas industry pollution is also the #1 cause of our ‘severe’ ozone air quality problems along the Front Range, increasing health risks such as heart attacks, respiratory issues, dementia and early death. It is also a major source of environmental injustice, releasing toxic chemicals into the air and water, increasing health hazards for frontline communities, which are all too often low income communities of color.

For the past nine years, PSR’s Compendium of Scientific, Medical and Media Findings Demonstratring Risks and Harms of Fracking 9th Edition has continued to reinforce what we already know – that fracking contributes to the climate crisis and harms human health by releasing hazardous pollutants into our air and water contributing to childhood cancer, birth defects and damage to respiratory, cardiovascular, and nervous systems,” said Barbara Donachy, MPH, of Physicians for Social Responsibility of Colorado. “That’s why PSR is joining our allies in calling for a phase out of fracking by 2030.”

Groups hosting the State of the Climate Address pointed out that while air pollution and climate change affect all Coloradans, these issues disproportionately impact low-income communities and people of color even more severely, an example of environmental injustice, and called for increased action and funding to address these problems. The Colorado Legislature has enacted several laws over the past few years to address Colorado’s GHG emissions and toxic pollution, to prevent the perpetuation of environmental injustice, and to reduce pollution burdens in disproportionately impacted communities. Frontline communities have been harmed disproportionately for decades by pollution and are impacted more severely by climate change. 

“Front Range communities are continuing to battle for our health and our lives,” said Lucy Molina, a Commerce City resident and Frontline Community Organizer for 350 Colorado. “Suncor and the oil and gas industry are poisoning our communities, and regulatory agencies have failed to protect our health, safety and environment as required by SB19-181. They continue to bank on human misery.”

The groups called for Governor Polis and State Legislators to support bold policy to phase out fracking and rapidly transition Colorado to a clean renewable energy future while supporting a just transition for workers and disproportionately impacted communities. 

“Labor and the environmental movement is a powerful force to fight the corporate polluters, who are causing climate change,” said Mark Belkin, of Third Act Labor. “Keeping fossil fuels in the ground and transitioning to clean energy union jobs is an opportunity we can’t miss.”


Quote Deck:

“Colorado urgently needs to adopt stronger climate actions to safeguard its stunning natural landscapes and diverse ecosystems from the escalating threats of climate change. Climate Reality Project Northern Colorado stands behind our fellow climate allies across the state demanding immediate action to stem the threat of climate change. By embracing robust measures, the state can not only protect its environment but also ensure a resilient and sustainable future for its communities, addressing the pressing challenges posed by rising temperatures, water scarcity, and other climate-related impacts.” – Scott Simmons, Northern Colorado Climate Reality Project


“It is unconscionable that the Polis administration has enabled the oil and gas industry to continue to pollute Colorado’s land, air and water while they rake in huge profits. Colorado must transition away from dirty and deadly fossil fuels to clean, cheap, readily available renewable energy as quickly as possible for the sake of our health, safety and prosperity.” – Paul Culnan, Empower Our Future and Safe & Healthy Colorado


“The climate emergency is here. We cannot continue to issue fracking permits when we already know that continuing to utilize fossil fuels puts us further behind in solving this crisis. We are simply sealing an unlivable future for our children. We can see the changes right now from the burning of fossil fuels. Earth just completed its hottest year ever. It is morally corrupt to continue adding more climate warming pollution to our atmosphere. The Denver Metro Chapter of Climate Reality calls on Governor Polis to end fracking and turn our full focus to a renewable and just transition-today.” – Tracey MacDermott, Climate Reality Project, Denver Metro Chapter Chair

“We should have included a planned phaseout of extracting fossil fuels when we passed HB19-1261 back in 2019, which established our GHG reduction goals. But we failed to address the real cause of GHG emissions and have fallen substantially behind our goals for both 2025 and 2030. It’s time to follow the recommendation of both the United Nations and the International Energy Agency and immediately stop permitting future oil & gas development.” – Jan Rose, Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate Spokesperson

“In this coming session, the legislature must address permitting of new ozone-forming emissions. It is time to get serious about tackling oil and gas sources, which cause nearly half of the ozone pollution along the Front Range. It’s past time for real enforcement as we see industry failing to meet the current laws. We need a robust plan to ensure reductions of ozone and bring the area back into compliance with federal standards. Our community — nuestra comunidad — has fought for generations to be heard. We are no longer asking for change; we are demanding it. We cannot meaningfully address our ozone pollution problem until we get serious about taking on the stranglehold of the oil and gas industry. Let 2024 finally be the year that the legislature and state stand alongside the people, not polluters.”  – Patricia Garcia-Nelson, GreenLatinos Colorado Fossil Fuel Just Transition Advocate

“Greenfaith endorses today’s action because we believe that the Earth and all people are sacred and at risk. Together our members create communities to transform ourselves, our Spiritual institutions, and society to protect the planet and create a compassionate, loving, and just world.” – Peter Terpenning, GreenFaith

Event co-hosts included: 350 Colorado, Be the Change – Colorado, Black Parents United Foundation, Clean Energy Action, Climate Reality Project – NoCo, Climate Reality Project – Denver Metro Chapter, Colorado Rising, Cultivando, Denver Metro Chapter of the Climate Reality Project, Earthworks, Empower Our Future, GreenFaith Boulder County, GreenLatinos, Heroes Sin Capa, Larimer Alliance for Health, Safety and Environment, Madhvi4EcoEthics, Save EPA, Physicians for Social Responsibility Colorado, Sustainable Windsor, Third Act Labor, Together Colorado Climate Justice Committee, Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate (with 44 member organizations) and Safe & Healthy Colorado (coalition with 60+ endorsing partners).