February 20, 2020

Udall Highlights Broad Support for Bold Climate and Conservation Vision in Keynote Address to Colorado College State of the Rockies Project’s 2020 Symposium

Udall remarks come as 10th annual Conservation in the West poll showing voters across party lines support measures to protect environment & climate

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Yesterday, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) delivered a keynote address titled "A ‘Quiet Crisis’ No More: Conservation and Climate Change in the West" at the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project’s 2020 symposium, calling for a bold conservation playbook to address the dual crises of climate change and nature loss that threaten future generations in the West. 

During his remarks, Udall highlighted the conservation legacy of his father, former Interior Secretary Stewart Udall, and outlined his own vision to confront modern environmental crises beginning with the Thirty by Thirty Resolution to Save Nature – a goal to protect 30 percent of U.S. lands and oceans by 2030 while centering environmental justice. Udall also highlighted the results of the tenth annual Conservation in the West poll demonstrating that voters in the Mountain West, across party and demographic lines, support protections for public lands and policies that tackle the threats of climate change and environmental pollution head-on.

The poll, which surveyed the views of voters in eight Mountain West states (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming), found that public lands and the outdoor way of life continue to be of deep importance to Western voters. The poll results show 74 percent want their representatives in Congress to develop comprehensive plans to tackle carbon emissions and climate change. In addition, 67 percent of voters consider habitat conservation a priority for their elected officials over oil and gas drilling and mining. Over half of all voters—52 percent —say that microplastics in in rivers, streams and drinking water supplies are serious problems affecting public lands and public health. Conservation issues were also deemed important by many of the most critical “swing” voter sub-groups in the West, including Latinos, millennials, sportsmen, moderates, and suburban women.

“The crisis of nature and the crisis of climate change have risen to a crescendo – and the public is ready for action,” Udall said. “Here’s the good news: I’m here to tell you we can do it. Because a movement is building – and it starts right here in the West.”

“I don’t have to explain what climate change is doing to the West,” Udall said. “These dual climate and nature crises are upon us. They are calling out for us to act with common purpose. Democrats, Republicans, and independents share these views. Despite what you see coming out of Washington, there is opportunity for fashioning consensus-based solutions.

“Scientists are calling on us to protect 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030 to save the natural world as we know it. To halt the looming mass extinction,” Udall continued. “This fall I introduced the Thirty by Thirty Resolution to Save Nature to officially set this conservation goal for the United States. According to today’s poll, 73 percent of the voters support this – and support cuts across party lines.

“As we write our new playbook, environmental justice must be our north star,” Udall concluded. “Low-income communities, communities of color, and native communities too often bear the consequences of environmental destruction – at the hands of the rich and powerful. As we transition to a clean energy economy, principles of equity and inclusion must guide our work. No one can be left behind.”

Key points from Senator Udall’s remarks include:

On the conservation legacy of his father, Stewart Udall— “In 1963 – 57 years ago – my dad warned the nation about what he dubbed The Quiet Crisis. Along with scientists like his friend Rachel Carson, my dad called on the nation to act with urgency. And then the strangest thing happened: the nation actually acted.”

On the need to tackle the dual climate and nature crises— “I don’t have to explain what climate change is doing to the West. Water scarcity. Out of control wildfires. Pollution from fossil fuel production. These dual climate and nature crises are upon us. They are calling out for us to act with common purpose.”

On the Trump administration’s environmental record and the need to think big—"It’s no exaggeration – just fact – that the Trump administration has the worst environmental record in history. … And here's the irony: the President's attacks are energizing the environmental movement in this country like we have not seen in a very long time. We need to harness that energy to write a bold new conservation vision for the future. A vision that doesn’t just undo the Trump administration’s attacks – but goes even bigger. Because if we only reverse the Trump record, it would be like putting a Band-Aid on a life threatening wound.”

On public support for bold action to protect the environment, and on the conservation movement in the West— “The crisis of nature and the crisis of climate change have risen to a crescendo – and the public is ready for action. Here’s the good news: I’m here to tell you we can do it. Because a movement is building – and it starts right here in the West. The West has changed immensely over the years. Our economies have grown and diversified. Our cities have skylines. We have become much more diverse. The West has evolved. We’ve moved forward. And so has public opinion – especially on environmental issues. The people are demanding action. And that’s why I am confident we can meet the challenges before us.”

On Udall’s environmental vision— “We must write a new playbook to save our planet, and our way of life. … First, we must confront climate change with everything we have. And transition quickly to a carbon free economy. … The second pillar of my vision:  we must save nature. …And the third pillar of my vision is this:  As we write our new playbook, environmental justice must be our north star.”

The full text of Udall’s remarks as prepared for delivery is available HERE.