Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet on Friday unveiled a policy framework developed by Colorado leaders that he said will inform congressional efforts to help Western communities adapt to increased risks of drought, wildfire and other hazards posed by climate change.
Bennet’s “Western Climate Resilience Roundtable,” a group of more than a dozen local officials and advocates convened by the senator following Colorado’s historic 2020 wildfire season, presented its recommendations to Bennet on Thursday, his office said in a press release. The group’s framework includes a long list of policy priorities aimed at helping Western communities become “more resilient in the face of a changing climate,” from investments in forest restoration and watershed protection to efforts to help fossil-fuel-dependent economies transition to a clean-energy future.
“There is no debate that climate change presents real and unacceptable risks to our water security and our way of life in the West,” Andy Mueller, general manager of the Colorado River District and the roundtable’s chair, said in a statement. “If Coloradans from all walks of life can come together to agree on durable solutions that address the challenge, then our leaders in Washington should have no problem doing the same.”
In December, Bennet introduced the Outdoor Restoration Force Act, a proposal to establish a $60 billion federal program to boost efforts to protect forests and watersheds in the West, including through wildfire mitigation, cleanup of abandoned mines, wildlife projects and more. The bill died in the 116th Congress, but Bennet plans to introduce a new version in the coming weeks, his office said.
“I will do my part to ensure these priorities are part of every discussion going forward about climate and the country’s economy,” Bennet said in a statement. “I think this framework will be an important tool to demonstrate to the country that climate change isn’t a future condition in the West — it’s here now. And the survival of our economy and our way of life depends on tackling this challenge.”