Conservation Colorado Endorses Phil Weiser for Attorney General

Conservation Colorado, the state’s largest statewide environmental advocacy organization, announced this week its endorsement of Phil Weiser for Attorney General.

“When it comes to safeguarding our environment and our Colorado way of life, one of the most important elected officials in Colorado is the attorney general. As the lawyer for the people of Colorado, the Attorney General has the power to act on behalf of all Coloradans and uphold our values,” said Maria Handley, acting executive director of Conservation Colorado. “Phil Weiser will ensure that Colorado prioritizes the health and safety of our people and our environment. As Attorney General, he will be a leader in addressing climate change, preventing unsafe oil and gas development, and protecting our public lands and rivers.”

Phil added, “I am honored to be endorsed by Conservation Colorado, Colorado’s largest state environmental organization. As Attorney General, I will lead the fight to address the reality of climate change, not deny it. I will protect our public lands and ensure we have clean air and water, standing up to the Trump  agenda and suing our federal government when necessary to protect Colorado. I am proud to join Conservation Colorado, which has led the way for over 50 years to protect Colorado’s land, air, and water, to fight for our children and future generations.”

Phil has traveled to all 64 counties in Colorado and understands what is at stake. In this recent video from the campaign trail, he shares his observations on the effects of climate along with his appreciation for the support of Conservation Colorado.

In endorsing Phil for attorney general, Conservation Colorado joins a respected group of Colorado environmental leaders, including Alice Madden, former Majority Leader of the Colorado House of Representatives and strong supporter of environmental protections, and Charles Wilkinson, a recipient of the National Wildlife Federation’s National Conservation Award who led the fight to protect the Bear Ears Monument.

Learn more about Phil’s plan to protect Colorado’s land, air, and water.


An Attorney General for ALL of Colorado

Over the years, we in Colorado have learned to work together to solve problems. Our spirit of cooperation–that exists alongside our fierce independence–has forged our way of life. Coloradans have shown time and again how we value hard work over easy fixes, solutions over excuses, and principle over politics. Today, working together means that we are committed to an inclusive, diverse, and welcoming Colorado.

Having travelled all 64 counties, I am very aware that the economic success we experience along the Front Range has not reached all Coloradans. The opioid epidemic, for example, is destroying communities and threatening families. And a historic drought is threatening farmers. Other communities see a lack of economic opportunity for their families because traditional industries have died out and, for many working families, wages that have failed to keep pace with the rising cost of living.

I am running for Attorney General to represent ALL Coloradans. That is why I am focused on bringing high-speed broadband internet service to all communities, fighting for affordable health insurance, leading on water management, addressing the opioid epidemic, working for economic opportunities, and advocating for high-quality, accessible education for the people of this state.

With broadband Internet technology, parents can gain access to health care, better educational opportunities for their kids, and the promise of economic opportunity to build a better life. But many communities–from Craig to Silverton to Sterling–have been left behind. Now, more than ever, we need leaders committed to working together with and on behalf of all Coloradans to fight for them. If we fail to deliver on that promise, we are going to see people across our state–from Crowley County to Moffat County–leaving the homes where their ancestors lived for generations.

As Attorney General, I will fight back against the federal government’s assault on rural Coloradans’ rights to get health care they can afford, including allowing discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions. I will fight to keep Coloradans safe and healthy, to protect our land, air and water, and work for the day when all Coloradans can enjoy equal opportunities, regardless of what they look like, where they come from, or how they worship.

Coloradans are entrepreneurial and our economic progress reflects our ability to create new technologies, build new businesses, and solve important challenge. To help support entrepreneurs across our state, I founded Startup Colorado to provide a network of mentors and support for innovators and entrepreneurs statewide. And to address market concentration, which has made it difficult for some small business owners to innovate, compete, and invest, I worked at the Department of Justice under President Obama to improve our merger review standards.

As your Attorney General, I will also work to improve our system of criminal justice. To do that, I will work with local sheriffs and police departments, judges, and district attorneys in every corner of our state to punish perpetrators of violent crimes, such as sexual assault, sex trafficking, and domestic violence, and also to investigate white collar crimes, which too often go unpunished. I’m honored to have the support of district attorneys, sheriffs, and lawmakers from Craig to Grand Junction to Durango to Pueblo, and I pledge to work together with those who work every day to keep all Coloradans safe.

Our innovative spirit in Colorado led us to take a national leadership role on being smart about criminal justice by legalizing marijuana and ending the use of jail and prison sentences for those using the drug. There is more we can do on the criminal justice reform front, including developing new approaches to sentencing for other non-violent drug users (like those hooked on opioids). Justice should never depend on where you live, the color of your skin, and whether or not you can afford a lawyer. As your Attorney General, I will advance the principles of justice, freedom, equality, and fairness for all. This means addressing long-standing problems such as bias and practices that undermine our commitment to equality, as well as newer problems like the opioid crisis, which is straining communities throughout Colorado and demands alternatives to incarceration.

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I’m committed to doing everything I can as your Attorney General to preserve our way of life for people in the Four Corners and the Western Slope just as I will for the people of the Eastern Plains and Front Range. I’m the only candidate who has made a trip to every one of Colorado’s 64 counties and I will travel around Colorado this summer to learn from citizens and leaders across our great state.

As Colorado’s next AG, I will continue such travels and work hard to keep our communities safe, fight for health care, stand up for economic opportunity for everyone, and protect our land, air, and water. This commitment is how I started my campaign–take a look at this post reflecting on my initial launch–and how I will continue to campaign and lead. Please join us and help support me on this important journey.


Phil Weiser Kicks Off General Election Campaign for Attorney General with Summer Listening Tour

Weiser’s Statewide Travel Underscores Commitment to Engage and Serve all Coloradans as Attorney General

Phil Weiser’s AG campaign released summer travel plans for the Democratic nominee. Weiser is set to hold events across Colorado and engage with voters in every corner of the state. Weiser – who visited all 64 counties during his primary campaign – will continue his listening tour with stops planned in the High Country and the Roaring Fork Valley next week. Later this month, he will travel to Southern Colorado and the San Luis Valley. In August, Weiser will hold events across the Western Slope and in Northeastern Colorado.

“In every county I have visited,” Weiser explained of his primary campaign travels, “I have learned about the challenges facing Coloradans in different communities. I am committed to representing all Coloradans as the next Attorney General. That is why I am focused on bringing high-speed broadband internet service to all communities, fighting for affordable healthcare, leading on sound water management, addressing the opioid epidemic, and promoting high-quality, accessible education and economic opportunities in all parts of the state.”

As the Dean of CU Law and as a leader in the U.S. Department of Justice, Weiser travelled to different parts of Colorado to learn from leaders in local communities. Similarly, as an AG candidate, Weiser has made such visits a hallmark of his campaign. Over the course of this summer, Weiser will meet with Coloradans from diverse communities, including local leaders, law enforcement, and elected officials, to hear their concerns and share his vision for how the Attorney General can ensure the programs and laws here in Colorado take into account the needs of all Colorado. He will host meet and greet events and other public sessions to hear directly from Coloradans about what they seek from their elected officials.

In July, Weiser has stops planned in Alamosa, Carbondale, Del Norte, Edwards, Frisco, Glenwood Springs, Ordway, Walsenburg, and more.

In August, Weiser has trips scheduled for Craig, Cortez, Durango, Fort Morgan, Grand Lake, Grand Junction, Greeley, Gunnison, Idaho Springs, Montrose, Pagosa Springs, Ridgway, Rifle, the San Luis Valley, Steamboat Springs, Sterling, and beyond.

Weiser, who lives in Denver, will continue to campaign across the Front Range and along the I-25 corridor, from Longmont and Fort Collins to Colorado Springs and Pueblo.

Event details will be posted at the campaign’s website. For schedule updates and more information about Weiser’s campaign, as well as his stance on important issues facing Coloradans this year, go to philforcolorado.com.


We Need our Next AG to Protect Colorado’s Water

Water is the lifeblood of our state.  Our agricultural economy, tourism industry, and quality of life in this beautiful state depend on it.  Because of climate change and the projected growth that will take place in Colorado over the decades ahead, we need innovative leadership to protect, conserve, and manage our water.  I will bring innovation to the office of Attorney General, and that includes leadership on water as a top priority.

The State of Water in Colorado

In 2018, we are, once again, experiencing drought-like conditions.  For Colorado, the natural form of water storage is our snowpack, which serves as a reservoir, holding water until it melts in the spring.  This year, our snowpack level is far below average, with some areas of the state hovering around only 50% of normal.  These areas are unlikely to return to the norm, which is a painful consequence of climate change.  And the projected growth of Colorado’s population—which could see a 50% increase by 2050 from 2015 levels—means that we cannot be complacent in how we manage our water.

As a headwater state, Colorado’s water flows to eighteen states and Mexico and is subject to nine different formal agreements.  The Colorado River Compact is particularly important among these agreements.  Our Attorney General needs to understand this agreement and other compacts in order to protect Colorado’s interests.  Over the years, collaboration, negotiation, and litigation over our water rights has taken place regularly—nearly 120 years of litigation in the case of the Arkansas River—and our Attorney General needs to ensure that Colorado defends its position effectively.

This necessity is dramatically demonstrated by the current controversy in the Colorado River Basin with the Central Arizona Project’s refusal to join a collaborative effort to create a more sustainable river system.  Together with the other three Upper Basin states (Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico), Colorado’s Attorney General must stand up to protect our allocation of Colorado River water and to ensure that our state is not held liable for non-compliance with any relevant agreement.  At the same time, we must work hard to maintain mutually beneficial relationships with the other states to enable us to manage our water supplies during an extended drought.

The guidelines governing Colorado River management will expire in 2025, which means that the states and federal government will begin discussions on this issue no later than 2020.  We must use this opportunity to avoid the potential of the continued draining of Lake Powell and Lake Mead on account of shortsighted water management decisions.  To guide these discussions to a fair and appropriate conclusion, Colorado needs to lead, setting an innovative and collaborative spirit that prevents a possible death spiral in how we manage our water.  As our next Attorney General, I will do just that.

Colorado’s Water Plan

The good news is that Colorado’s Water Plan provides a valuable framework for managing our water.  An overall theme of the Plan is that all of Colorado must work together to ensure that we manage and use our water effectively.   As the Plan states:

Because our water challenges are great and demand our united focus. Because other governments watch Colorado’s water positions closely. Because discordant infighting weakens Colorado’s position in interstate and international arenas, invites unnecessary federal intervention in our water affairs, and dulls our responsiveness. It’s undeniable: our water challenges necessitate that we pull together as one, innovate, and become more agile.

As the Plan provides, we must “recognize that water rights are property rights whose owners are free to respond to the economics of the marketplace and to continue to work within our local control structure.”  Within the framework of the Plan, Colorado’s Attorney General needs to protect water rights, ensure the continued vitality of agricultural communities, protect outdoor recreational economies that rely on our rivers, and allow reasonable transfer arrangements.  Our Attorney General must realize that alternative water transfer arrangements present an opportunity, a risk, and a challenge.

Alternative water transfer agreements offer both risk and opportunity.  If managed effectively and reasonably, they allow for a win-win proposition—enabling those with water rights that can be utilized more efficiently to sell access to them.  If they are not overseen appropriately, the risk is that such arrangements can result in a “buy and dry” scenario. Communities, like Crowley County, can be destroyed and local food production can be imperiled if water rights are sold off wholesale.  The challenge is thus to allow for reasonable transfers, encourage innovation, and protect local agricultural economies.

For a good example of an innovative approach to water management, consider the case of the Lower Arkansas Valley Super Ditch Company.  That company maintains ownership of the water rights for farmers, allows for certain leasing arrangements, and maintains agricultural communities.  Under such a model, leases are enabled by reducing some consumption (for instance, by switching to different crops or by using split season irrigation) and creating leasable water while maintaining substantial levels of agricultural productivity and economic activity.

Colorado is well-positioned to continue its international leadership position in the adoption of advanced water technology.  With the benefit of access to broadband Internet technology, for example, farmers can collect and act on real-time water use data, consuming less water as a result and engaging in better crop management.  Colorado can continue to be a pioneer in developing and adopting such practices, which will become increasingly important as our nation adapts to the challenges of climate change.

The Opportunity for Innovation in Water Law and Policy

The trend lines, as noted above, are clear—we cannot simply stay our current course and weather the challenges of growth and climate change.  Thankfully, with the guidance of the Water Plan and the ingenuity of Coloradans, we are poised to manage our emerging challenges in water law and policy through innovation.  This innovation includes action along three frontiers:  (1) conservation, (2) re-use, and (3) storage.  The challenges ahead demand that we make progress on all three fronts.

Under the Water Plan, the Colorado Water Conservation Board plays a central role in overseeing Colorado’s water policy.  The Attorney General sits on this Board as an ex officio member.  By all accounts, our current Attorney General is missing in action and not a leader in this field.  As Colorado’s next Attorney General, I will engage proactively on the Board and work collaboratively with its members to meet the challenges ahead.  I will also engage with the Basin Roundtables, which provide a crucial form of local governance and feedback on the development of an effective water policy here in Colorado.

Finally, I will work with the lawyers I will oversee in the office of Attorney General to encourage more innovative thinking about how to move water law and policy forward to address emerging challenges.  In particular, our water law framework must encourage new technologies in water use and conservation that enable our water to go farther.  Only through innovation can we protect vital industries, notably, agriculture and tourism, that depend on our water.

Water Conservation

Under the Water Plan, Colorado has announced a goal of conserving 400,000 acre-feet of municipal and industrial water by 2050.  This goal will require a range of initiatives, including “xeriscaping,” building water-saving actions into land use planning, using water-free urinals, developing and communicating social norms for water use, and other techniques for conserving water.  The Water Plan also wisely calls for better integration of water conservation into land use and development decisions, so that new development incorporates water-saving techniques consistent with local government goals. As Attorney General, I would work with the Water Conservation Board and the Department of Local Affairs to encourage these measures, including developing competitions for developing and implementing such techniques.

Water Re-use

In the 1980s, Denver Water pioneered “direct potable reuse,” or DPR, through research and development efforts.  This technique is only starting to be used, and the Colorado Legislature, led by Representative Jeni Arndt, passed three bills last session to allow reclaimed water to be used for toilet flushing, to be used for industrial hemp, and even to allow reclaimed water to be used for edible crops.  To be sure, when water is reused, there are water quality concerns, which are addressed by Regulation 84, which requires effective testing and oversight.  Going forward, we need to pursue such avenues as a means of using our water more intelligently.

Water Storage

Given the increased demand for water and the decline of the natural storage and flows our state has relied on for generations (that is, the declining snowpack and runoff caused by climate change), the need for strategic new storage projects is self-evident.  We need to be smart about new storage and carefully consider increasing the capacity of existing reservoirs, developing aquifer storage and recharge, and creating new off-stream storage opportunities.  As Attorney General, I will support such efforts, including evaluating ways to make the permitting process more efficient, such as allowing multiple permits to be pursued at the same time (rather than in sequence).  In short, the future of water will necessarily include strategic storage opportunities that are supported by affected constituencies.  Colorado is poised to be a leader in this area.

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The future of water in Colorado calls for innovation, collaboration, and creative problem solving.  This is the very spirit I will bring to the Colorado Attorney General’s office.  Colorado faces a simple math challenge—our population is increasing and natural storage and flows of water are decreasing on account of climate change.  We can meet this challenge, but only with the innovative and collaborative leadership that Colorado is known for.