January 30, 2024

Fighting for clean air

For many young Coloradans, being in nature is a lifestyle. But without clean air, our health and safety in outdoor environments is threatened. 

Despite Colorado having some of the nation’s strongest clean air protections, Denver ranks as being the seventh-most polluted city for ozone pollution in the country according to the American Lung Association’s last State of the Air Report. Strengthening Colorado’s methane regulations is a critical part of improving our air quality in line with Colorado’s 2030 emission reduction goals.

Bringing the Outdoor community together

Defend Our Future has worked with Colorado Rising over the past year on events highlighting how pollution is affecting outdoor recreation. Colorado Rising organizer Caitt Maeve says, “The Outdoor Series events are about finding inspiration in the outdoors.” 

The final 2023 Outdoor Series event highlighted the connection between methane pollution and our degrading air quality.  

Connecting with nature

Prior to the main event, Campus Ambassador Celeste Kimimila Terry at Metro State University in Denver hosted a hike in collaboration with Outdoor Pursuits, a campus organization that provides resources and transportation for students to get outdoors. Tying into the overall message of the outdoor series, she exemplified the inequitable access to the outdoors students and community members in Denver often face. This issue is also at the heart of Defend Our Future’s Seeding the Future campaign, where we advocate for creating equitable green space access, especially in cities and underserved communities.  

Addressing methane at the local level

At the Outdoor Series event, local experts from Earthjustice and Earthworks discussed how their organizations are monitoring methane emissions and negotiating for stronger regulations, especially as it relates to Colorado’s Greenhouse Gas Methane Intensity Protocol.  

Breaking down the protocol

This protocol is the first of its kind and enforces the Colorado Methane Rule that was passed in July 2023 which requires transparent measurement standards for methane pollution in the oil and gas sector but had no enforcement mechanism.  Ensuring the protocol is accurate, effective and strong is critical to reduce methane pollution and protect the health of Coloradans.  

Bringing community voices to climate solutions

The last public comment session closed on January 10, and Colorado’s Air Pollution Control Division is focused on ensuring this protocol isn’t just done but done right, especially as emerging technologies for monitoring pollution continue to evolve. Defend Our Future worked with local chapters of partner organizations to turn out 20 people for public comments, with many stressing the importance of creating equitable, just transitions. The final draft of the protocol is expected as early as March, with finalization expected at the end of June. We hope this final protocol provides clear guidance ensuring oil and gas operators implement methane measurement programs that capture accurate and useful pollution data from their sites. 

Empowering people through knowledge

These events have empowered community members to learn and make their voices heard about local pollution. Knowledge is power and events like this mobilize young people and others that make a lifestyle out of the outdoors to implement the change that Coloradoans desperately need to protect their environment, health and lifestyle.