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Future play spots at risk! Save this valuable outdoor recreation program!

Where do you go to play with your kids?

So many of us rely on our neighborhood park, path, playground or sports field, and our national parks, forests or monuments to get outside with our kids. Whether we want to make sure they are getting enough exercise, want to pry them away from the video games or just get them out to have some fun, many of these play destinations have something in common – they are made possible by the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

The LWCF uses funds from offshore energy development — not taxpayers — to protect our natural resources, cultural heritage and to ensure access to recreational opportunities. Some years Congress allocates more funding for projects than others, but nearly every county in Colorado has received funding for outdoor play from the LWCF.

LWCF has created countless projects in Colorado, sometimes by providing a financial match to local and state resources like GOCO. For my family, it’s meant hiking at Golden Gate and Roxborough State Parks. You can check out some of your local projects here.

Sadly, the LWCF program that makes all this possible is in jeopardy.  

President Trump attempted to cut the LWCF fund by 98% in his budget proposal this year but because the LWCF enjoys bipartisan support in Congress, we’ve been able to maintain the program with some basic funding. LWCF is set to expire this September and the Administration wants to shut it down. Without the Land and Water Conservation Fund, our ability to protect natural resources and federal public lands as well as the ability to support states as they create recreation for all, will be decimated. We need to fight to protect the LWCF!

Fortunately, both of our U.S. Senators, Senator Michael Bennet and Senator Cory Gardner, have been champions of the LWCF. Let’s thank them but also ask that they work to permanently reauthorize LWCF before it expires in September. Many of us raise our children here in Colorado for the outdoor lifestyle. We need to help ensure our open spaces and parks will be here for our kids in the future.

You can find the local office or email both Senator Michael Bennet and Senator Cory Gardner from their websites. You can also give them a shout on social media @SenCoryGardner and @SenBennetCO. Ask that they permanently reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund before it expires! And be sure to share picture of you and your family enjoying Colorado’s outdoors and use the hashtag #LWCF.

Electric vehicles are here to stay!

Have you thought of making the next family vehicle an electric vehicle (EV)? You are not alone! In fact, more and more people are making the switch. Many people are tired of pouring money into their gas-fueled vehicle with the constant fill-ups, oil changes and more. Others are motivated to ensure a healthier future for their kids by reducing their carbon footprint.

One of the many reasons we love electric vehicles is because they produce less pollutants – meaning cleaner air for our kids! Of course, the source of the electricity, a coal-fired power plant vs renewable energy, will have an impact on air quality, but electric vehicles are so much more efficient that they are always significantly cleaner than traditional gas-fueled vehicles.

You’d think we’d all be driving electric vehicles with those benefits! Unfortunately, one of the main constraints has been the lack of charging stations – giving people ‘range anxiety’.  Fortunately, charging infrastructure is catching up.! There are now more than 47,000 public EV charging outlets across the U.S., according to the Energy Department’s Alternative Fuels Data Center — up from 25,602 just three years ago.  

Yesterday, Governor Hickenlooper delivered more good news when he released the “Colorado Electric Vehicles Plan,” which he says will serve “as a road-map to build out a fast-charging network, giving Coloradans the ability to travel anywhere in the state in an EV.” The Colorado Electric Vehicles Plan creates strategies and partnerships to build out EV corridors and to ensure access for all Coloradans.

Which is important considering Colorado is one of the top 10 states in the number of electric vehicles per capita.

We hope that our state policy makers engage on this issue soon and build upon governor Hickenlooper’s leadership.

We want to hear from you about electric vehicles! Let us know what you like about your EV if you have one or what you would like to see change by filling out this survey today. Everyone who takes our poll will be entered for our door prize giveaway for a bouncy castle rental!

Jump into 2018 with Clean Air & a Jumpy Castle

We can all agree, 2017 was quite the challenge and on top of that, we are all just now recovering from the busiest time of the year. To say goodbye to 2017 and hello to 2018, Colorado Moms Know Best has a fun surprise:

We’re giving away an amazing door prize – a $250 gift certificate for a jumpy castle rental! Get a jumping castle delivered and set up for your child’s next party!

You may be asking yourself: “Well, what do I have to do to be entered to win this sweet door prize?!” It’s simple! Below we’ve listed all the ways you can enter – and yes, you can enter more than once!

All you have to do to be entered to win is do one of the following three activities – or do more than one of the activities and get an extra entry for each one you do:

  1. Write to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to help make sure our kids grow up with clean air.
  2. Share an episode from our new weekly Facebook video series with your friends.
  3. Like our Facebook page and be subscribed to our email list.

The PUC needs to hear from us so they know that Coloradans want more renewable energy options that ensure cleaner air across the state. Please join us and ensure our message reaches the PUC! Everyone who completes at least one of the activities above will be eligible to win the gift certificate to Blaster Bouncer – take multiple activities to earn more chances to win.

Thank you for participating and ensuring our kids have clean air!

Jen Clanahan

What is the PUC?

If you’re like me and want excellent health for your kids then you probably want to see more clean, renewable energy in Colorado so that our kids have clean air to breathe.  But who makes those decisions?  It depends on the decision – some might be at the state legislature, sometimes by ballot initiative that we all vote on but often it’s up to the PUC.  

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is the regulatory body for many industries in Colorado and is made up of 3 Commissioners that are appointed by the Governor.  The PUC is responsible for assuring safe and reliable energy at rates that are reasonable.  When the utilities that provide our energy want to make changes in how they deliver our energy they often need permission from the PUC.

That process is underway right now.  Xcel energy has a proposal in front of the PUC that could speed up the process of closing Xcel’s old and dirty Comanche coal-fired power plant in favor of generating more renewable energy.  As you know, pollution stemming from facilities like the Comanche coal power plant create a number of health-related issues for everyone, but particularly for children whose lungs are still growing.  This pollution can lead to lifelong problems like exacerbating asthma and harming lung development as well as causing low birth weight. Our kids shouldn’t face such risks from something we can change.

When making their decision, the PUC will look at questions like if Xcel will still have capacity to generate enough energy to meet demands and will it cause rates to go up for Xcel’s customers.  Fortunately in this case, Xcel plans to generate more energy with renewables than will be lost with the closing of the coal plant. That generation of new renewable energy will also help replace many of the jobs from the coal plant.  Xcel has also stated that they won’t go forward with this proposal unless rates stay the same or even go down, an important stipulation for working class families.

Let’s let the PUC know we want clean energy for our kids! Join us in writing a letter to the PUC and ask that they move this Xcel proposal forward so our kids can benefit from cleaner air!  We’ve made it easy and have written a sample letter that you can use.  Just add your personal thoughts and send a letter by clicking here.

Thank you, Governor Hickenlooper!

Recently Governor Hickenlooper issued an executive order that set specific goals for Colorado to reduce our greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide emissions, and to reduce overall electricity use. He also announced that Colorado will join the U.S. Climate Alliance. By doing so, he is committing our state to meeting targets laid out in the Paris Climate Accord. You can see more details here.

Less pollution and fewer dirty emissions means cleaner air to help us raise healthier kids. This will mean less high ozone action days which means we can all feel better about getting our kids into the great outdoors to play without worrying about impacts of smog on their lungs.

You and I helped make this happen! We hiked with Lt. Governor Lynne, held an ice-skating “skate-in”, and we called, wrote and visited the Governor’s office.

I know that for me, my daughter is my inspiration for making those calls and writing letters to elected officials. There’s nothing more important to me than her. And I know, that for so many other moms out there, it’s the same. Today we can take pride in the fact that our actions have paid off. We and other concerned Colorado citizens let the Governor know that we want cleaner air. We want our kids to have a bright future.  Because so many of us reached out to make sure he understood our priorities, it worked.

There are so many times when we feel that our voices are not being heard, that money and lobbyists have more sway with decision makers than a bunch of moms that just care about their kids. This is an important reminder that we are making a difference. That we need to continue to make those calls and show up at meetings. It’s working!

We also need to thank our elected officials when they face up to pressure by those lobbyists and do the right thing.

Please join me in thanking Governor Hickenlooper by clicking here to send him a quick email. It means he’ll be more likely to stand up for our kids next time and more likely to make sure the goals he set for our state are met.

No solutions offered for clean air

An op-ed by Head Mom, Jen, recently appeared in multiple local Colorado papers; here’s what it said:

The state legislature wrapped up this week, with a whimper. Lawmakers failed to deal with something so basic that it’s hard to believe our state leaders are ignoring it — the air we breathe.

The American Lung Association just released their latest State of the Air report. Each year they compile official air quality data from around the country which they put in perspective for those of us who don’t understand what all those numbers mean. They boil it down to a simple letter grade like our kids bring home on their report cards. Alarmingly, we’re failing.

Nine counties in Colorado received an “F,” including Larimer County. Two others received a “D.” That’s two more counties that received an “F” than last year. While there were some minor areas of improvement, it’s clear we have a lot of work ahead of us.

Air pollution can cause permanent problems in young children whose lungs are still developing, in addition to other serious effects like lung cancer and asthma attacks. As parents, our most important job is to protect our children — but we alone can’t change the air.

Legislators couldn’t come to agreement, and the governor didn’t provide the leadership to push through a solution to this problem. There was no clean energy legislation. While an energy efficiency bill passed, and this is good news, it extended programs that are already in place. Since those programs have been in place and we’re still failing, we clearly need a bigger, more-comprehensive solution to match the extent of the problem.

As parents, if our child brings home a report card with failing grades we don’t say that it’s OK and ignore it. We would try to understand what went wrong and address the problem. So why aren’t our state leaders doing that with our air? And just as I would ask my child what happened, I’m asking the governor: what happened? Why are we failing and what are we going to do to fix the problem?

It’s bad enough now, but what’s worse is we’re heading into summer. The heat of summer exacerbates ozone pollution; almost all our red alert days happen during the summer. Summer should be a time of carefree outdoor play for our kids or when we head to the mountains to explore our state. Unfortunately, air doesn’t stay in one place so leaving the metro area doesn’t alleviate the situation.

Now that we’ve missed the opportunity to address the issue during the legislative season we need Gov. Hickenlooper to address it. He stood up to tell President Trump to uphold the Paris climate agreement and he has pledged that Colorado should have the cleanest air in the country. Now we need action to match the sentiments.

We call on Gov. Hickenlooper to take action to protect our children from the dangerous impacts of ozone pollution. He has the authority. Whether it’s through executive orders or through a state agency like the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, he must and can act. With such a large portion of our population living in a county with failing air quality we can’t sit back and wait for future legislative sessions to try again.

Introducing: The Climate Change Girl Scouts Patch!

The Girl Scouts of Colorado and Colorado Moms Know Best are excited to announce a new Girl Scout patch – The Climate Change patch. image002

Remember that little adrenaline rush you got when you earned a new Girl Scout patch? We think of these like diplomas that show the world what a girl has strived for, learned and accomplished. In fact, patches are sometimes even handed to recipients in a graduation-esque ceremony; and that’s exactly what will happen in the Colorado Statehouse in April when the first group of girls will earn and receive their patch.

The Girl Scouts of Colorado and Colorado Moms Know Best want the Climate Change patch to be a fun and engaging way for girls to learn more about climate change while building useful skills to last a lifetime.  The current generation of children is the one that will bear the greatest burden of climate change and have the most to gain by preventing its impacts. Hopefully, Scouts will be motivated to take a leadership role on this vital issue and take part in improving their own future.

Many of us are noticing the effects of climate change around us. We’re constantly setting new records for warmer temperatures and hearing about crazy changes in our seasons like a January and February with no snow — in Chicago!   We’re seeing more devastating extreme weather events.  The bad news is that human-made toxic pollutants are added to the atmosphere by burning dirty fossil fuels — creating these conditions.

But the good news? We have the power to change that.

colorado kids with firefighterGirls will calculate their own carbon footprint, understand the impacts of climate change at a local level, and be inspired to make a difference. They’ll acquire skills to affect policy on other issues that interest them as well.  They can learn how to research and present their findings. They’ll also learn about how government works and how to make sure their voices can be heard on the key issues of their generation.

Girls earn the patch by finishing one age-appropriate activity in each of the three categories – Discover, Connect, Take Action. They can choose from things like researching clean energy jobs, examining climate change in their towns, and talking to decision makers.

The Climate Change patch is now available.  Find out more details and read about the ways you can get the patch here.

Why methane is a big deal

Since we were founded, Colorado Moms Know Best has advocated for reductions in methane pollution. For us, the reasons for doing so are clear every time we look at our kids: it all comes back to their health. Methane pollution from oil and gas operations contains chemicals that lower our air quality, exacerbating asthma and contributing to other respiratory problems – particularly in children.

Did you know that one in ten children suffer from asthma in Colorado?

Fortunately, the Obama Administration developed the Methane and Waste Prevention Rule, helping to protect the air that our children breathe. These safeguards were inspired by Colorado’s own methane protections put in place by the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission (if you have been with us since the beginning, then you may remember that organizing around those safeguards was our first public foray into fighting for clean air).

After following Colorado’s lead, the safeguards were developed at the national level over five years and were shaped by the more than 300,000 comments that the government received during that process. The safeguards protect public health and ensure that valuable energy and taxpayer dollars are not simply burned away into the sky. Seems like common sense, right?

Unfortunately, a couple of weeks ago, the House of Representatives passed a little-used Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to repeal these methane safeguards. Even more concerning is that by using a CRA resolution, any future administration will be prevented from ever enacting a rule that is substantially similar.

We cannot let that happen. We must stand up for our children.

To protect our Colorado outdoor opportunities and way of life, we need the U.S. Senate to stand up for our children’s health and stop the CRA resolution. I sent a letter to our U.S. Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet asking them to vote no. But, I need your voice too. Please pledge to call our Senators today and ask them to protect your kids!

CMKB-BLM-CRA

Call Colorado’s Senators at the numbers here and ask them to stand up for Colorado — protect the health of our children, in addition to avoiding waste of energy and taxpayer dollars, ask them to vote no on the BLM CRA and further, to take a leadership role on this issue.  Let them know that Colorado parents are counting on them to do the right thing for the health of their children and to ensure that we have the cleanest air in the country.

As we have seen with other issues and votes already — every single call will make a difference!

If you need help knowing what to say, below is a sample call script for this issue:

Hi Senator, my name is [first & last name] & I live in [zip code]. I’m calling to ask you to VOTE NO on a CRA for the Bureau of Land Management’s Methane and Waste Prevention Rule. Colorado has led the way on this issue and its Senators need to continue the momentum. The rule requires the capture of methane rather than releasing it into the atmosphere. Our natural resources belong to the American people; we cannot let D.C. and congress shortchange taxpayers, damage public health including that of our children, and compromise our national security by passing a CRA resolution blocking these recent BLM reforms.

Call their DC offices or the office nearest you:

Senator Cory Gardner’s offices:

  • Colorado Springs (719) 632-6706
  • Denver (303) 391-5777
  • Durango (970) 415-7416
  • Fort Collins (970) 484-3502
  • Grand Junction (970) 245-9553
  • Greeley (970) 352-5546
  • Pueblo (719) 543-1324
  • Yuma (970) 848-3095

Senator Michael Bennet offices:

  • Alamosa 719-587-0096
  • Colorado Springs 719-328-1100
  • Denver 303-455-7600
  • Durango 970-259-1710
  • Fort Collins 970-224-2200
  • Grand Junction 970-241-6631
  • Pueblo 719-542-7550

A Back to School Reminder: Turn Off Those Engines When Picking Up Kids

School has started!  Kids are getting to know new teachers and classmates, and parents are wondering what to do with all their extra time (just kidding about that last part).  For some kids and their parents, they may be getting to know a new school or it may be a return to see familiar faces you’ve missed seeing over the summer.  Whatever the case it offers an opportunity for us all to check on our daily routine and how it impacts the air our kids breathe.

children-breathing-sign-08-08

Some families are lucky enough to be able to walk or bike to school, which helps keep our air cleaner.  Others have to drive – but did you know that idling just one car for five minutes per day outside your child’s school can emit as many as 25 pounds of harmful air pollutants and 260 pounds of carbon dioxide a year?  Throughout the Denver Metro area, idling is responsible for an estimated 40,000 tons of harmful air pollution a year and 400,000 tons of CO2 emissions.  This results in over 40 million gallons of fuel wasted while idling, costing area residences and businesses over $100 million dollars a year.

That’s why the Clean Air at Schools: Engines Off! (CASEO) program is so important!  CASEO aims to reduce air pollution at schools in Colorado by working with parents and school administrators to reduce idling vehicles in pick up areas outside schools.  Parents and buses are most commonly idling right next to the playground where children are playing – and of course running around breathing in pollutants.  CASEO provides great information, signs to post in pick up areas to raise awareness and even works with school districts to upgrade and retrofit their diesel school buses.

If you drive your kids to school,  the easiest way to make a difference is to turn your engine off while you wait.  In fact, it’s recommended to turn off your engine anytime your car will be stopped for 30 seconds or more.  For an even bigger impact you can work with your school to take additional steps school-wide.  Check out their website for more info. and tools to help.

Help make a difference for all our kids – learn more about CASEO today!

What’s the big deal about the Regional Haze Rule?

Hello! As the new Head Mom for Colorado Moms Know Best, I’m so excited to combine my passion for ensuring my daughter’s bright future with my desire to protect our healthy environment and clean air so she can run, jump and play outside. We’ll have lots of upcoming events where we can network, have some fun and make a difference together – starting less than week from today.

On June 1st – just in time for the National Park Service’s 100 year anniversary – join moms like you to make our voices heard on strengthening the Regional Haze Rule.

Believe it or not, loopholes in the rule lead to harmful air pollution in Rocky Mountain National Park and other parks that rivals the poor air quality in major cities like L.A. and Denver. Thankfully, the Obama Administration has proposed changes that will restore natural air quality to national parks and wilderness areas. 

If you’re like me and are taking your kids to visit a national park this summer, I know you’ll want to know that your family is breathing clean, healthy air.  

But the Regional Haze Rule changes are not a slam dunk: the EPA needs to hear from the public – concerned parents like us – before deciding whether to finalize them.

Join me to speak out in support of these rules on June 1st starting at 9 a.m. at the EPA regional office at 1595 Wynkoop Street in Denver.  

Please help us clean up the pollution in our parks. For more information, check out the National Parks Conservation Association’s website then email me at comomsknowbest@gmail.com to let me know if you can join me at the hearing.

Hope to see you there!
Jen