GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.- Senator Cory Gardner visited Grand Junction Tuesday to tout the passage of his Great American Outdoors Act, a major piece of environmental legislation aimed at funding national park maintenance and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
His opponent, Democrat and former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper is openly critical of Gardner’s environmental record, and vows to tackle climate change and the environment head-on if elected to the senate. Promises include rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and investing government dollars into climate technology research.
While he was visiting the Colorado National Monument to see how federal funds will impact needed maintenance in the monument, we asked Gardner what other environmental issues he still wants to tackle and highlight during this major election year.
“Passage of legislation on the Wildfire Technology Assistance Act, promoting renewable energy and opportunities on our public lands as well for renewable energy,” Gardner said. “These are things that I think make a tremendous difference in how we can protect and preserve our environment.”
We also asked his opponent John Hickenlooper about key environmental issues in his campaign.
“Clean air and clean water is something everyone in Colorado cares about,” Hickenlooper said. “But we also recognize that outdoor recreation has become a major part of our outdoor economy.”
Both candidates say they are champions for places like national parks and public lands. But Hickenlooper is vocal about his difference from Gardner on climate and energy policy.
A major point of contention is Senator Michael Bennet’s Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy or CORE Act. This bill would designate new protected lands in the Centennial State.
“It’s got a broad based consensus yet Senator Gardner said he won’t support it,” Hickenlooper said. “The Thompson Divide, Camp Hale… these are places that should definitely be protected.”
Bennet recently called for Gardner to include his bill in the Great American Outdoors Act as an amendment. Gardner indicated his bill is totally different.
“It’s Senator Bennet’s legislation, I’m not opposed to Senator Bennet’s legislation,” Gardner said “I want to make sure we have people who support all of our public land efforts. ”
Gardner emphasized that the two pieces of legislation want to accomplish different goals.
“The Great American Outdoors Act is a piece of legislation that really doesn’t designate any new lands.”
We also asked the candidates about their opinions on President Trump’s recent appointment of William Perry Pendley to head the Bureau of Land Management headquartered in Grand Junction.
Hicknenlooper opposes the nomination saying Pendley is too eager to sell and lease off public lands.
Gardner tells us he’s waiting on a senate hearing and formal nomination process with Pendley before making up his mind