The “Coloradans for Climate Justice” committee has just been established to oppose Proposition DD, a measure to fund Colorado water infrastructure projects. Critics say the proposition unfairly puts the cost of climate change on the people rather than on oil and gas companies.
On June 20, during Denver’s Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, a new media campaign was launched to show the need to conserve water in Colorado and to support Proposition DD; however, not all Coloradans are backing this movement.
Proposition DD is a measure that Colorado residents will be voting on in the upcoming November election. The proposition aims to fund water projects and water infrastructure around the state. While its supporters view the proposition as a chance to fund valuable environmental movements, others see it as a cop-out for those responsible for climate change.
“We should be taxing the people who cause climate change, which is the oil and gas corporations, not the people,” said Gary Wockner, a water activist of Save the Colorado and Save the Poudre.
Wockner has established the committee, “Coloradans For Climate Justice,” to oppose Proposition DD.
“Proposition DD is trying to create a sports gambling scheme in the state of Colorado and put a 10% tax on all of the bets that people make … the tax would go to water projects,” said Wockner. “We are opposing it because the water projects are trying to account for the damage caused by climate change.”
According to Wockner, Colorado’s water supplies are predicted to decrease by 35% by the year 2050 which will lead to billions of dollars in damage to the economy. Wockner believes that Proposition DD will force Colorado residents to bear this financial burden.
“The precedent it sets could be huge and financially devastating for every taxpayer in the state,” said Wockner.
The concept of corporations taking responsibility for climate change is not new to Colorado. In 2018, the City of Boulder, Boulder County and San Miguel County filed an environmental lawsuit against the oil and gas corporations ExxonMobil and Suncor. The lawsuit seeks to make these corporations pay the costs for the community and environmental issues associated with climate change.
In 2015, Colorado revealed a new water plan that was meant to address some of these financial and environmental concerns. The plan includes various water projects centered around mitigating the climate damage on water supplies. Two of these projects center around trying to save the Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona.
“They’re proposing to build a huge new dam on the White River in Rio Blanco County in northwest Colorado … they want to try to send the water downstream to save Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona,” said Wockner. “And another thing they want to do with the money, which is written into Proposition DD, is to buy water from farmers around the state of Colorado and send that water, again, down the Colorado River to try to save Glen Canyon Dam.”
These projects are in response to climate science that predicts that the Colorado River will decrease drastically in the coming decades. According to Wockner, these plans would be both ineffective and unwise.
“There’s some fundamental problems with the Colorado water plan and these water projects,” said Wockner. “The expense is insurmountable. I mean, if you try to buy million-acre feet of water from farmers, you cost billions and billions of dollars to taxpayers of the state of Colorado.”
As the population of Colorado’s Front Range rises and water because more and more scarce, Wockner believes that the key to handling this crisis is conservation. He argues that the monetary budget of water conservation needs to increase and that, while the Colorado water plan will do this, it will also “spend billions and billions of dollars on new water projects.”
“This is a basic issue of justice and climate justice which is going to be increasingly important to taxpayers as we move forward in this new climate change world,” said Wockner.
Proposition DD will be voted on in Colorado this November. You can learn more about it here.