As 2019 comes to a close, the Western Wire team would like to take you back in our annual year in review. Rather than a handful of stories, beat reporting of issues and on agencies dominated much of the year’s coverage. Some of these policy issues have been part of our brand since our launch in January 2017, while others were very specific to the current year. Here we present a selection of those stories and issues, in no particular order. As we head into 2020 it is sure to be a year packed with policy and political battles in Washington, D.C. and throughout the West.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s completed Gov. Jared Polis’ request to reclassify the state’s air quality as it downgraded Colorado’s ozone status from “moderate” to “serious” for Denver and other northern Colorado counties this week. The agency finalized the non-attainment status Monday, following Polis’ decision earlier in the year to reverse the course set by his predecessor, former Gov. John Hickenlooper, in avoiding onerous ground-level ozone repercussions through an exemption waiver.
Democrats and environmental champions tout climate and environmental issues as key battlegrounds in the 2020 race, but a forum held in DC this week found that while an important issue for some voters and candidates, not all are on board with radical climate activism, particularly voters in the west.
A national group’s endorsement of former Gov. John Hickenlooper’s primary opponent in the Colorado Senate Democratic primary could hit a snag based on the candidate’s earlier promotion of fossil fuels to spur education investment and construction. The Sunrise Movement, which opposes fossil fuel development and is the source of the proposed ‘Green New Deal,’ has backed former state legislator and Colorado Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff in his bid to deny the 2020 nomination to Hickenlooper. They view Hickenlooper, who bowed out of his presidential bid earlier in the year, as too “dangerous” on climate issues, including natural resource development.
A new poll out from the Center for Western Priorities shows that a majority of Coloradans support responsible oil and natural gas development in the state. Support for production stood at 53 percent while “keep in the ground” policies stood at only 19 percent.
In a highly-polarized political environment, it is rare to see a proposal that garners support from both sides of the aisle in Washington, and rarer still when that bill is also supported by numerous and diverse stakeholders across the west from different industries.
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, a candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, has unveiled a sweeping climate change plan to eliminate oil and natural gas production in the United States over the coming decades. The proposal comes as twenty candidates are set to take part in the first debate tonight and tomorrow. Inslee has made climate change the sole focus of his White House campaign, but as his record serving in Congress and as Washington’s chief executive shows, it can be difficult to translate these proposed policies into legislative wins.