The Denver Post sent a questionnaire to candidates in the April 4 Denver municipal election. Answers are lightly edited and ordered alphabetically by candidate’s last name. Following are mayoral candidates’ answers to the question:
How better can city officials protect Denver’s environment — air quality, water supply, ground contamination? And should the city take a more active role in transit?
Candidate’s answer was not responsive to the question.
I’ll make Denver a national and global leader on climate by capitalizing on recent federal funding and promoting policies that ensure communities most impacted by air and water pollution benefit from new investment. Priorities will include:
– Promoting housing density, particularly along transportation corridors and at transit sites, and supporting the conversion of vacant office space to housing.
– Supporting the education and training necessary to prepare Denver residents, particularly people of color, for green economy sector jobs.
– Fostering partnerships with RTD, DPS and DRCOG to reduce emissions from our publicly-owned fleets and promoting regional action on air quality and water conservation.
Denver can join leaders from across the world who have been actively working to establish best-in-class practices to address building and maintaining green cities.
As mayor I will:
– Work with experts to justly transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy sources like solar and wind and invest in good-paying jobs in clean, renewable energy
– Give the auditor’s office the power to hold us accountable
– Develop a comprehensive program to protect us from dangerous air pollutants that disproportionately affect marginalized communities and exceed both state and federal standards
– Hold polluters like Suncor accountable for the long-term harm they cause
As mayor, I will continue to invest in and expand the efforts of the Climate Action, Sustainability, and Resiliency Office. I would utilize the climate protection fund to also focus on water conservation efforts and double down on infrastructure projects that update our water treatment and retention efforts so that we practice conservation from start to finish. The city should take a more active role in transit by working with RTD to find ways to make transit more practical and focus on areas that need a reduction in single-vehicle traffic.
With my public and private sector experience, I’m the only candidate who can deliver Denver’s greener, cleaner future. My energy and climate legislation have made Colorado a national climate policy leader. I’ll do the same at the local level as Denver’s next mayor. I plan to add EV chargers, renegotiate with Xcel to protect customers, electrify our transit and heating and cooling systems. I’ll collaborate with Denver Water to promote water efficiency programs and reduce water waste. Through the lens of environmental justice, I’ll address disproportionate pollution in low-income areas. The city must lead the plan to develop transit options.
Climate change and air and water quality issues are deeply linked. We’ve all experienced the dreaded brown cloud. Pollution is causing ill health effects, especially in our most vulnerable communities. I have a strong record of supporting renewable energy incentives and protecting water sources. To truly be a Green City, we must focus on improving air and water quality, increasing transit options, and reducing carbon emissions through renewables and energy efficiency, all while ensuring that communities of color are not disproportionately impacted by these changes. Denver is ready to protect its future.
Denver’s most pressing environmental issue is the city’s reliance on nonrenewable energy. I am committed to transforming the city into a national leader in clean energy and climate sustainability by committing to have 100 percent of Denver’s electricity sourced from renewable sources by 2040. This requires electrifying our fleet and electrifying our buildings while reducing vehicle emissions by providing incentives to increase the use of public transit, increase ridership, and increase route frequency and ride quality. We must also take a more aggressive approach to preserving water by incentivizing turf and xeriscaping wherever possible.
Strict enforcement of pullution violations. Denver must take the lead in protecting Denver’s enviroment. Through traffic has to be encouraged to use the 470 highway system. This will help the idiling of slow moving traffic on I-25 and I-70.
Deborah “Debbie” Ortega
Environmental causes have defined my career, from forcing the cleanup of contaminated sites, to protecting parkland, to prioritizing alternative transportation technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In our growing city, this multifaceted issue requires a proactive, holistic approach. My Infrastructure Master Plan will inform and guide future development, reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality, and protect taxpayers from unnecessary cost and disruption.
Environmental justice starts with housing justice and getting vehicles off of our streets. Air quality, water quality, and ground contamination are being affected by people needing to use gasoline and propane tanks for warmth. There are no trash receptacles and true services for the unhoused in Denver. Recycling from large businesses, and festivals, working to lower emissions from Suncor in Commerce City. Working with RTD for better public transportation schedules for buses and trains, and helping to push the conversation of them using more clean energy vehicles will give us a much better air quality.
Collaborating regionally to meet air quality standards is step one, particularly through aggressively managing all forms of carbon emissions. This includes increasing our role in transit by developing a local system, potentially with RTD, that connects the last mile efficiently to the regional system.
To avoid ground contamination we will exceed the highest standards for solid waste management.
Increasing connectivity to nature relies on real solutions to these challenges. The rewards will go beyond climate sustainability into a vibrant place and economy where protected nature is valued as a resource.
As mayor, I will invest in the infrastructure that powers our economy and protects our environment. Ignoring the maintenance needs of our roads and bridges has made traffic in Denver unbearable, costing Denver drivers an extra 36 hours a year in additional commute time and worsening our air.
With a focus on creating new jobs, improving air quality, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, my green energy policy will play a critical role in building a better future for Denver and its residents. We need strong city support for efforts to prevent ground contamination. I am committed to preserving Denver’s water resources and promoting water conservation measures throughout the city. I will work to implement water-saving technologies in city properties and encourage residents to adopt water-efficient practices. I will prioritize investments in climate-friendly transportation projects such as public transportation, cycling infrastructure, and pedestrian-friendly walkways to reduce car dependence and improve air quality in Denver.
Ean Thomas Tafoya
This is my life’s work! The city has to expand electric public transport frequency, routes, and accessibility. We need to use state and federal dollars to replace lead pipes, and lower utility bills by retrofitting old buildings and creating community solar programs. We need requirements and incentives for developing sustainable, walkable neighborhoods. That’s a huge opportunity for workforce development and good jobs, and we also have to support workers in transitioning industries. The communities most impacted by pollution need to be at the table when we make these policies.
My first week in office I will make perhaps the biggest and most impactful change to environmental policy in Denver regarding air quality. It will cost 0 dollars. It will be a building code amendment within the Denver amendments. It will forbid plumbing penetrations and turtle type roof venting on all southern facing roof plains. The number one killer of an immediate or future solar field are these obstructions. Only ridge in conjunction with eave venting will be permitted. It’s obvious that our electrical infrastructure is not ready. We need mini electrical producing power plants on many many rooftops. This is the sunniest place . Let’s go already !!!! We need to incentivize solar with local subsidies. I will incentivize directional boring projects to get chargers in all right places.
Denver should be replacing all old lead pipes and enforcing more stringent air quality penalties to improve air quality. Fracking should not be allowed within 50 miles of downtown Denver or within a mile of any residential area. Public transit should be free to all, ensuring that everyone can get around the city without problem. Finally, a massive expansion of green spaces, green roofs, and incentivizing the move to EVs will contribute to this.
I office in LoDo near one of the largest EPA offices outside of Washington, D.C. and I am baffled as to why these issues, which frequently violate federal standards, are not policed and enforced to make offenders accountable for their actions. Violations are occurring literally under this division of the EPA’s nose. To find the poster child and habitual violator for this issue, look just north to the Suncor refinery.
Yes our city should take a more active role in transit, including ensuring that our sidewalks are available equally and throughout as well as safe transit corridors for all the different two-wheel modes of transport like bicycles. Both of these efforts will make our citizens and planet healthier.
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