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Colorado Environmental Justice Action Task Force Convenes

Colorado Environmental Justice Action Task Force Convenes

Westword
Colorados new Environmental Justice Action Task ForceThe first meeting was held on December 20. “We can finally address ecological racism,” Renee M. Chacon (a member of the task force, cofounder and executive director) said. Womxn, Mountain.

The task force was created during the Colorado General Assembly’s last session following the passage of House Bill 1266The Environmental Justice Act, or the Environmental Justice Act, has been charged with making legislative recommendations and regulatory policy recommendations by November 20,22. This will suggest practical ways of addressing environmental justice inequalities in the state. It will focus on those communities that are most disproportionately affected and those who experience environmental and public-health disparities.

The task force 27 includes nine members appointed by Governor, sixteen by the legislature, two tribal governments and two others. Ean Thomas Tafoya, Colorado state director of GreenLatinosAlec Garnett, Speaker, appointed. He said that he was glad that so many government representatives would be present in the room as they have the decision-making power. He is also proud of the inclusion of many people from his community.

GreenLatinos has done a lot to organize across Colorado. To have five people in the task team, from different communities and working with different organizations, is something that we’re proud of, Tafoya said. GreenLatinos supported the passage the Environmental Justice Act, which was sponsored and sponsored by Mike Weissman and Faith Winter and Janet Buckner.

The entire task force will meet once a month. This meetingThis was the first meeting of members, primarily to discuss the group’s mission and duties. Even though it was a kickoff meeting there was still a public comments section. It was held at 4 pm, which Tafoya says is the best time of the day for working people to have access to public comment. People showed up to share their concerns and suggestions.

The dialogues and conversations have been very fruitful. The public turned out throughout the entire public comments, so I’ll take this as a good sign for participation, Tafoya states. This has been generations of work, and the only way to make these changes is by you, the people. We need people to be involved.

Ean Thomas Tfoya is a member of the Environmental Justice Action Task Force.  
eantafoya.com” class=”uk-display-block uk-position-relative uk-visible-toggle”> Click to enlarge Ean Thomas Tafoya is one of the members of the Environmental Justice Action Task Force. - EANTAFOYA.COM

Ean Thomas Tafoya belongs to the Environmental Justice Action Task Force.

Chacon agrees that the task force will succeed if it has input from the community. She says that my biggest concern is that we, as a community, have as much influence over policy making, change, and implementation for our communities than industry. This is despite the fact that seven of the task force members have ties to the oil-and-gas industry.

Steven Arauza, a former Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission environmental protection specialist; Gary Arnold, a plumber; Kamilah Begasley, who used work for Great Western Petroleum; Kimberly Mendoza Cooke, who works at Oxy, a petroleum firm; Michael Sapp who used work for the City of Denver; Tyson Johnston who is a natural-gas professional; Uni Blake, a toxicologist.

The task force still lacks three members. Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert has yet appoint one and two representatives from the Ute Mountain Tribe or the Southern Ute Tribe have yet to be chosen. Tafoya says that the consultation with tribal nations is crucial for discussing historic environmental racism and land seizure.

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The members present discussed process issues at the first meeting. The current bylaws only require a simple majority (or fourteen votes) to make final recommendations.

Are we getting ahead if we make decisions about what’s politically possible for ourselves? Tafoya asks. We would have never thought we would make it past 1266. It looked dead in comparison to what it was until we started hitting the governor really hard. … My community is asking us to not let politics get in the way of what is politically possible.

Tafoya says that many of the environmental justice measures passed in the last session, including a bill establishing this task force called the Environmental Justice Act, were defeated. Senate Bill 272, which modernized and added environmental justice elements to the Public Utilities Commission; Senate Bill 260, which increased sustainability of the transportation system; and H.B. 1266 all passed in just one week. The Environmental Justice Act passed the final day after 25 pages worth of amendments were considered. Only 14 of the 28, however, made it into the final bill.

Tafoya states that the Environmental Justice Act was crucial because the state government didn’t act quickly on the issue. Climate Action Plan to Lower PollutionJackson was also a sponsor of the bill. Both the Colorado Chamber of Commerce and Colorado Oil and Gas Association are both involved. Opposed HB 1266.

Opponents argued for a cap-and trade policy. Companies that emit less carbon can sell carbon credits to companies that emit more. This would allow for an even distribution of emissions. Governor Jared Polis opposed cap-and trade policies as a way to reduce emissions. Polis made an announcement regarding HB 1266. Executive Order When he signed the bill he reiterated that state employees cannot work on any cap and trade policies.

Task force members will decide which of the four subcommittees that they would like to serve on on January 7. They are tentatively listed as Equity Analysis and Disproportionately Impressed Community Definition, Data & reducing environmental health disparities, and Best Practices in Community Engagement. Chacon is hoping to serve on either Equity Analysis or Data Subcommittees. Indigenous communities like hers aren’t often represented by data, she states, adding that she wants work to reduce inequities, rather than spend time defining them.

At its February meeting, the task force will vote on finalizing the bylaws. It will also elect two co-chairs to head the group. Tafoya hopes that one of these co-chairs will be chosen. The subcommittees meet in the months that the full group is not. The task force must submit drafts of its recommendations by June.

Chacon is optimistic that the taskforce will provide enforceable protections for disproportionately impacted communities, and be bold in its recommendations. She said that she is part of the task force because we need to see transformative changes. We have the opportunity to do this.

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