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Environmental Nonprofit Gives Local Lawmakers Weak Scores on Conservation

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Colorado State Senator Ellen Roberts voted with conservation interests 27 percent of the time, according to Conservation Colorado

Local legislators did not garner good grades from Conservation Colorado for their votes this year. On Thursday, the environmental nonprofit released its “2016 Colorado Legislative Conservation Scorecard,” an annual look at how each legislator voted on key environmental and energy bills.

Colorado State Senator Ellen Roberts, a Republican who represents District 6 including Cortez, Durango, and Telluride, voted with conservation interests 27 percent of the time, though she has a lifetime score of 55 percent. The report said her pro-conservation votes included support for residential precipitation collection, or rain barrels, for clean power, and for alternative-fuel motor-vehicle tax credits. However, the group downgraded her for supporting legislation to curb federal authority on national public lands and to reduce the state’s ability to impose fines for water-quality violations. Representative Don Coram, a Republican in the 58th District, which includes Cortez and Montrose, got a 33-percent score this year. He too supported the rain barrel bill and tax credits for alternative motor-vehicle fuels, but was downgraded for voting against a bill to give irrigation water-rights holders more flexibility, and against a bill that would have established measurable goals for reducing greenhouses gases in the state. Conservation Colorado says the average score in the Senate was 57 percent; in the House, 63 percent. The lowest-scoring politicians in either body were three senators who came in at just 9 percent support for conservation.

Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal. She is currently a freelance writer as well as the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.
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