Dear Editor:

Paonia's recent water crisis highlighted something that we in western Colorado must confront -- the reality that sustained drought can have a serious impact on our fragile water systems, which impacts our economy and quality of life. As climate change worsens we can expect to see more intense and longer-lasting droughts. The consequences of climate change aren't limited to water, or to our agriculture economy. Warmer winters result in devastating beetle kills, which in turn fuel even more devastating fires. Those fires contribute to erosion problems, forcing downstream communities to deal with sediment-overloaded water. We are currently seeing the effect of sediment in our reservoir and in irrigation water for local farms and vineyards. Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and severe. Ultimately we as a community will be forced to pick up much of the tab when these events impact our local roads, bridges and other resources.

The Colorado General Assembly is currently considering several important bills. These bills aim to expand opportunities for solar, support purchases of electric vehicles, expand access to electric vehicle charging stations, provide transition assistance to communities navigating coal mine and coal plant retirements, reduce air pollution, and save money for Colorado's local governments, families, and businesses. State Senator Kerry Donovan, whose district includes Delta County, is leading on an important bill that would ensure that the state regularly and accurately tracks greenhouse gas emissions in order to focus on the most cost-effective strategies for reducing them. State Representative Julie McCluskie, whose district includes the North Fork Valley, has been consistently supportive of these efforts and Governor Polis has been signaling strong support as well. I would like to express my appreciation to Senator Donovan, Representative McCluskie, and Governor Polis, and encourage all three to keep working hard to get these important bills passed.

Chelsea Bookout

Mayor Pro Tem

Town of Paonia

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