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The Very Real Ways the Trump Administration is Affecting Colorado

The complex, bewildering, topsy-turvy, mostly unquantifiable—but nonetheless substantive—ramifications of the Trump administration on Colorado after 244 days* in office.

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Edited by Lindsey B. Koehler


Two weeks after the nation watched Donald Trump take the presidential oath of office, a handful of 5280’s editors and writers sat together in a conference room, admittedly a little befuddled. Few of us could fully reconcile the notion that the guy who popularized—and delivered with such glee—the phrase “You’re fired!” was now the leader of the free world. Even so, the magnitude of that moment in history was not lost on us as Americans.

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It wasn’t lost on us as Coloradans, either. In fact, on that day in early February we resolved to monitor how Trump would both directly and indirectly affect the Centennial State, which had voted for Hillary Clinton by a margin of almost three percentage points. As the first few (completely insane) months of the new administration unfolded, we weren’t solely focused on politics and policies and proposed legislation; we also surveilled how the machinations of Trump and Co. were influencing the psyche of Coloradans.

Although telling every story, presenting every point of view, and exploring every manner in which our home state has been stirred by the turmoil in Washington, D.C., is an impossible undertaking in one feature, we’ve attempted to provide some much-needed context, explain the unexplainable, and otherwise catalogue the first eight months of the Trump presidency through a very important lens: the Colorado one.

*Inauguration Day through September 20, 2017


Rallying Cry

The Trump Effect

From the beginning of the campaign, Trump employs surprisingly misogynistic rhetoric, raining down a litany of sexist insults upon everyone from Megyn Kelly to Hillary Clinton to Ghazala Khan to Katy Tur. On October 7, 2016, news breaks of his documented boasts about sexually assaulting women. Oh, and his policy stances—including defunding Planned Parenthood, repealing the Affordable Care Act, and otherwise meddling with women’s health care and reproductive rights—don’t do him any favors with his female constituents either.


The Colorado Corollary

More than 100,000 protestors rallied in downtown Denver to participate in the national Women’s March movement on January 21, Trump’s first full day in the Oval Office. The Mile High City’s gathering was one of the largest in the country. With the state having declared on Election Day that it was “with her,” the turnout shouldn’t have been surprising. But some of the homemade poster-board signs displayed that day (some of our favorite sign quotes are listed below) certainly were.

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Womens March
More than 100,000 protestors participated in the Denver Women’s March on January 21. Photo by Andy Cross / Getty Images.

Jobs

The Trump Effect 

On January 23, the president begins making good on his promises to “drain the swamp” and decrease the size of the government by signing a presidential memorandum that temporarily halts all nonmilitary federal hiring. The freeze is lifted for certain departments in April; a month later, Trump releases his 2018 budget proposal, which calls for major cuts to many executive branch departments.

The Colorado Calculation: 7
The (rather insignificant) number of federal employee jobs that were lost in Colorado in the first quarter of 2017. Based on Trump’s budget proposal, a variety of departments could see workforce reductions. With that said, the number of Coloradans working for cabinet-level federal agencies has been on a mostly downward trajectory (the most recent data from March 2017 had the number at 34,562) since its reported high of 39,180 in 2011. 

Immigration

The Trump Effect

On January 25, Trump signs an executive order telling U.S. cities that if they violate federal laws by shielding people living in the country illegally from deportation, the attorney general may withhold federal grants.

The Colorado Corollary

Denver’s response to federal immigration officers’ increase aggressiveness has been one of cautious rebellion.

DACA
Photo by Joe Amon / Getty Images

Donald Trump may not be good at many things as president—a fact that’s reflected in his historically low approval ratings. But there is one thing he’s got expertise in: being a bully. So it was wholly in character when Trump’s executive order threatened so-called sanctuary cities, saying the municipalities would be ineligible for federal grants unless they did the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s bidding—namely, helping ICE find and detain people living in the United States illegally.

“We will not be bullied, and we will not be blackmailed,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said in response to Trump’s threat. Indeed, throughout the year, Hancock and the City Council have given the impression, with tough talk and a variety of initiatives, that they’re sympathetic to the issues surrounding illegal immigration. But Denver has been loath to really push the Trump administration, instead opting to let other cities take the lead. Laws in San Francisco, for example, make it illegal (with some exceptions) for local jails to tell ICE when an inmate wanted on a detainer is set to be released. Denver’s Public Safety Enforcement Priorities Act (passed in August), on the other hand, continues the practice of providing notice. The Mile High City gets $400,000 to $500,000 annually from the Justice Department grant in question, which is critical to local law enforcement funding. So while Hancock has talked a big game about not kowtowing to Trump et al., it’s possible the specter of not getting half a million dollars in law enforcement funds dictated some of the city’s decisions in dealing with ICE. Is that blackmail? We’ll let you make the call. 

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The Update

In September, a federal court in Illinois blocked the feds from denying grant money to sanctuary cities while legal proceedings associated with a lawsuit brought against the DOJ by the city of Chicago play out.


Emergency Responder

The Trump Effect

On January 27, Trump signs a presidential executive order called, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” It’s quickly dubbed the “travel ban.” Chaos ensues at international airports around the country.

The Colorado Corollary

Amal Kassir is the 22-year-old Aurora native who planned Colorado’s most visible protest of Trump’s travel ban.

Amal Kassir
Amal Kassir. Photo by Jake Holschuh.

There’s more than one way to build a wall­—especially when nobody has to pay for it. Trump’s fifth executive order, released on January 27, suspended “aliens” from seven Muslim-majority countries—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen—from entering the United States for a period of 90 days. (After a federal court approved a restraining order on the ban, Trump issued a second edict, in March, that removed Iraq from the list.) Many viewed the order as discriminatory toward Muslims, which is why Aurora’s Amal Kassir felt compelled to act. A Syrian-American activist, poet, and practicing Muslim whose TED Talk about ethnic divides, “The Muslim on the Airplane,” has been viewed more than a million times on YouTube, Kassir quickly organized a protest of the travel ban at DIA. 5280 talked with Kassir about how she inspired hundreds to join her at the airport, the meaning of the rally, and her continued fight against Trump’s immigration policies. 

How were you able to organize the DIA protest so quickly?

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My friends and I decided to post a Facebook update and go to DIA. We didn’t know what to expect. But at 5 o’clock on the dot, more than a thousand people showed up. [Editors’ note: Local media outlets reported that attendancewas in the hundreds.] The Flobots, a local hip-hop group, did a flash mob; the New York Times was streaming it on Facebook Live; and people were singing, “Refugees are welcome here.” Everyone was there for the same purpose, and that’s why it was so organized.

Was there an especially profound moment for you that day?

At sunset prayer, there were 20 Muslims praying surrounded by masses of people. When they finished, everyone burst into applause. A lot of people told me they had never seen Muslims pray before. It made me feel proud—not just to be an American, but also to be a Muslim.

Did it make an impact, ultimately?

We are one of the biggest refugee hot spots in the country. We are a vibrant community with so many immigrants and Latinos and black Americans—people who have given Denver the culture that it has. Yet the majority of the people who showed up to the DIA protest were white. I think DIA helped people realize they’ll have to defend something they’ve always taken for granted.

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What advocacy work are you doing now?

I’m visiting a lot of universities in the United States and overseas to talk about feminism, the situation in Syria, and Muslims in America. My task is to be able to communicate my story [earlier this year, 11 members of Kassir’s family were killed in a bombing near Damascus] in a way that unifies human empathy.

The Update

In late September, the Trump administration announced it will replace the travel ban with travel restrictions on certain visitors from eight nations: Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. The administration says it believes these countries don’t do enough to identify terrorists or criminals before they are permitted to enter the United States.


Our Waters

The Trump Effect

In February 2017, the administration delivers a presidential executive order instructing the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to review the Obama administration’s 2015 Clean Water Rule and re-evaluate what jurisdiction the federal government has to regulate certain bodies of water. The issues is exceedingly complex, but in layman’s terms, the president wants to dive into the debate about how “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) is defined. This is important because waters designated as WOTUS are subject to federal oversight.

The Colorado Corollary

A WOTUS definition change could alter the feds’ power over things ranging from regulating industrial discharges into waters that feed into the South Platte River to requiring permits for a rancher who wants to divert a stream on her property to levying fines on a landowner for executing an unauthorized river restoration project.

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Josh Duplechian
Photo by Josh Duplechian / Trout Unlimited

The first thing that comes to mind when you hear about clean water protections may be “Flint, Michigan.” But in Colorado, the issue has potential implications well beyond what’s in our Nalgenes: Trump’s preferred, narrow interpretation of WOTUS does not include seasonal streams, which make up nearly 70 percent of Colorado’s waterways. (Colorado state law would regulate pollution on many of those waters, but there is no state-level system for permitting the destruction of waterways associated with, say, a strip-mall development in a non-WOTUS wetland.)

Confluence Kayak & Ski and Colorado Trout Unlimited have expressed concerns about the negative effects less federal regulation could have on boating and fishing—and, thus, the $28 billion Colorado earns in annual consumer spending from the outdoor recreation sector. Some craft beer aficionados are also fans of a more inclusive definition of WOTUS: “Even small chemical disruptions in our water supply can alter the taste of a brew or influence factors like shelf life and foam pattern,” according to a letter sent to the EPA by the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Brewers for Clean Water group, which counts eight Centennial State breweries as members.

There are, however, plenty of Coloradans who believe Trump’s review is necessary—and potentially helpful. Groups like the Colorado Farm Bureau and the Colorado Livestock Association argue that the 2015 interpretation of WOTUS unnecessarily burdened landowners and, thus, the state’s $40 billion agriculture industry. Their argument, in short, is that an onerous permitting process to make changes to small waterways on private properties is unreasonable. They also say that in arid Western states, categorizing seasonal channels as WOTUS could result in overreaching federal regulation of, for example, the application of pesticides near a streambed that is dry most of the year. “The EPA should move forward and ditch [the 2015 Clean Water Rule] once and for all, then go back to the drawing board and write a new rule that protects water quality without trampling the rights of landowners, businesses, and the states,” the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association said in a statement this past August. 

Not sure how to feel about it? You’re not alone. In fact, confusion is the one thing people on both sides of the dispute seem to share, and a desire for clarification about what counts as WOTUS might just be the common ground needed to move this debate forward for everyone. Interested parties will find out this month as the EPA concludes a series of 10 teleconferences, including one for the general public on November 21 (register on epa.gov by November 14 to participate), with various stakeholders.


Education

The Trump Effect

In March 2017, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos praises Denver Public Schools for its efforts to support school choice. Then, she backtracks and tosses a bomb at DPS, saying the district only appears to have school choice but actually lacks a “full menu of options” for families. She suggests that without vouchers to pay for private schools (a program the Colorado Supreme Court has twice shot down as unconstitutional), DPS’ praiseworthy accessibility is canceled out.

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The Colorado Quotable

DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg takes down DeVos in a statement that reads, in part: 
“We respectfully disagree with Secretary DeVos. We do not support private school vouchers. We believe that public dollars should be used for public schools that are open to all kids, whether they are district-run or charter… We do not support choice with accountability.”


Energy

The Trump Effect

In an effort to stimulate the American coal industry, the Trump administration in March summarily rolls back Obama-era regulations meant to protect the environment.

The Colorado Corollary

Trump has delivered on his promise to help Colorado’s coal producers. The market, however, doesn’t seem to care.

iStock
Photo by iStock

The final year of President Barack Obama’s presidency was particularly tough on Colorado’s coal industry. The administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), designed to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, and a moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands combined to tamp down production in the Centennial State, where extraction fell from 18.7 million tons in 2015 to 12.8 million last year. (Colorado coal hit its zenith in 2004, at nearly 40 million tons.) But the election of Trump, who has called climate change a hoax, has suspended the downward spiral. Less than three months after taking office, Trump ordered his EPA director to eighty-six the CPP, and the U.S. Department of the Interior banned the ban on new leases. Consequently, production of so-called black diamonds in the Centennial State grew by a million tons during the first quarter of 2017, compared to the same period the previous year. In addition, the proposed expansion of the West Elk Mine near Somerset, which gained approval in September, could add even more production and related jobs in the coming years. “Trump has taken the boot off the industry’s throat,” says Stan Dempsey, president of the Colorado Mining Association. However, if you’re one of the 1,000 Colorado coal miners laid off over the past 15 years, don’t expect your job back, says Marissa Anderson, a senior energy analyst for Lakewood’s BTU Analytics, an oil and natural gas consulting firm. Although Trump has stabilized coal, power producers are moving toward cheaper natural gas. In 2016, natural gas leaped coal as the most prevalent energy source in the country for the first time. “From a market perspective,” Anderson says, “it’s not ‘problem solved’ for the coal industry.” 


Inside Politics

Hick’s Picks

Colorado’s governor weighs in on the top five areas in which he thinks Trump has influenced the Centennial State.
‣  Health care
‣  Climate change
‣  Infrastructure  
‣  Legal marijuana
‣  Other environmental issues (Gold King Mine cleanup, sage-grouse habitat, Canyons of the Ancients protections)

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Senator’s Selects

5280 asked both U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and U.S. Senator Cory Gardner to detail the five areas in which the Trump administration has affected Colorado most. Gardner didn’t respond to our request. Bennet did.  Here is his short list.
‣ Proposed budget cuts
‣ Health care bill
‣ Immigration policies
‣ Travel ban
‣ Pulling out of the Paris Agreement


Marijuana

Trump Effect

The Trump administration can’t make up its mind about how the federal government should treat legalized marijuana.

The Colorado Corollarly

After a year of campaigning on the principle that the legalization of weed should be left to the states, Trump appears to be veering in the other direction. We track the highs (not that kind) of the administration’s policies as they could apply to Colorado’s cannabis industry.


Campaign:

On multiple occasions, including a July 29, 2016, interview with Colorado’s KUSA, Trump reiterates that he believes marijuana legislation should rest with the states. 

February 23, 2017

Press secretary Sean Spicer alludes to “greater enforcement” of federal marijuana laws as they pertain to recreational marijuana. In his comments, though, he notes that the president intends to leave medical marijuana alone.

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February 26, 2017

Governor John Hickenlooper appears on Meet the Press and questions whether the federal government has a clear-cut right to interfere with state laws. He also reveals that Attorney Gaeneral Jeff Sessions led Senator Cory Gardner to believe that enforcement of federal marijuana laws was not going to be a top priority.

February 27, 2017

Sessions signals he’ll advocate for stronger enforcement of marijuana laws. “States can pass the laws they choose,” he says. “I would just say it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.” 

March 2017

In various speeches and remarks made throughout the month, Sessions reiterates his desire for greater enforcement of federal marijuana laws (although during his confirmation hearings, he acknowledged his agency might not have the bandwidth to pursue enforcement as strictly as it would like). His suggestion that medical marijuana might have been “hyped, maybe too much” further unsettles the cannabis community. 

March 1, 2017

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman invites Sessions to visit the Centennial State to better understand its marijuana industry. Sessions has yet to take her up on it.

April 3, 2017

Hickenlooper sends a letter, with the governors of Oregon, Washington, and Alaska, to Sessions asking the administration to “engage with us before embarking on any changes to regulatory and enforcement systems.” 

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April 5, 2017

Sessions issues a memo that calls for Department of Justice task force subcommittees to “undertake a review of existing policies in the areas of charging, sentencing, and marijuana to ensure consistency with the Department’s overall strategy on reducing violent crime and with administration goals and priorities.”

May 5, 2017

In a statement attached to his signing of the $1.1 trillion spending bill, Trump questions a clause that prevents the DOJ from using federal money to interfere with states’ medical marijuana laws. 

July 24, 2017

Former Broncos defensive end Marvin Washington, along with four other plaintiffs, sues to legalize marijuana at the federal level. In their lawsuit against Sessions, the DOJ, and the Drug Enforcement Agency, the plaintiffs argue that the criminalization of marijuana is unconstitutional in part because it “arose out of the enactment of legislation underwritten by illegal racial and ethnic animus.”

July 24, 2017

Sessions responds to Hickenlooper’s April 3 letter with one of his own, noting he has questions about the “efficacy of marijuana ‘regulatory structures'” in Colorado.

August 14, 2017

In its request for comments about the international scheduling of 17 controlled substances, the Food and Drug Administration acknowledges that cannabidiol, a nonpsychoactive component in cannabis, “has been shown to be beneficial in experimental models of several neurological disorders…” This appears to contradict the federal classification of cannabidiol as a Schedule I drug, which by definition “have no currently accepted medical use.”

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August 24, 2017

In a five-page response to Sessions’ July 24 letter, Hickenlooper defends Colorado’s regulatory efforts while also noting the state is willing to continue working with the federal government to prosecute the illicit drug trade.


Our Veterans

The Trump Effect

On April 19, Trump signs the Veterans Choice Program Extension and Improvement Act, which prolongs funding for a program that allows veterans to use their VA benefits to see physicians outside the VA system if the health center is unable to treat them within 30 days.

The Colorado Corollary

Colorado service members (might) get the health care they need in a timelier fashion.

Getty Images
Photo by RJ Sangosti / Getty Images

Trump dedicated a significant amount of time on the campaign trail to railing against the Department of Veterans Affairs’ shortcomings. Here in Denver, we’re plenty familiar with the bumbling and stumbling often associated with the VA: The wildly over budget and drastically behind schedule new VA hospital in Aurora is just the most high-profile instance. But it’s not the only example of the VA’s deficiencies. According to a September 2017 VA report, the average wait time for veterans seeking a primary care appointment through the Denver VA Medical Center is 17.4 days. Eastern Colorado Health Care System’s newish director Sallie Houser-Hanfelder—she’s been on the job in Denver about a year and a half now—is admirably candid about the unsatisfactory performance. “That makes us among the worst in the country in terms of access to care,” she says. “But we’re working on it.”

By “we,” Houser-Hanfelder also means VA Secretary David Shulkin, whom Trump appointed in January. In April, Shulkin and Trump—whose proposed 2018 budget includes a six percent bump in VA spending (and who exempted the embattled Aurora hospital from the federal hiring freeze)—ushered through the Veterans Choice Program Extension and Improvement Act, which could help address the lag time for patients seeking care. Established in 2014 as a response to outrage over ridiculously long wait times, VA Choice—which allows service members to use their benefits to be seen by non-VA health care providers if the VA can’t get them an appointment in less than 30 days—was set to expire this year. But the Veterans Choice Program Extension and Improvement Act, which garnered bipartisan support, extended funding for the program through January 2018. (It also called for the establishment of 28 new VA offices, including a business office in Denver and an outpatient clinic in northern Colorado.) The long-term results of the bill could be especially important in Colorado, where close to eight percent of the population either has served or is currently serving in the armed forces.

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Although VA Choice has, according to Houser-Hanfelder, been moderately successful here in Denver over the past three years—particularly for speedier access to mental health care appointments, where average wait times have dropped by about five days—wait times for primary care visits have actually worsened since the program began. Why that’s the case isn’t totally clear, but a rise in Colorado’s veteran population could be a contributing factor. (The Denver VA Medical Center has seen a 10 percent increase in appointment requests since 2014.) Or it could be because VA Choice can be confusing to navigate. Additionally, private-sector providers have, at times, dropped out of the program because of administrative hassles or because the VA has been painfully slow with reimbursements.

Shulkin has acknowledged that the program isn’t perfect, but extending it until January gives the VA time to consider other options. Here’s hoping whatever he comes up with continues to help reduce wait times for Denver-area veterans—so the Mile High City is no longer “among the worst” in providing access to care for current and former military personnel.


Public Lands

The Trump Effect

On April 26, Trump releases a presidential executive order directing Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to review all presidential designations or expansions of designations under the Antiquities Act made since January 1, 1996, with an eye toward removing barriers to energy extraction on public lands. The list of national monuments that could be affected includes the archaeologically significant Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in southwestern Colorado.

The Colorado Corollary

Coloradans weren’t thrilled that Trump and Zinke were zeroing in on the West’s protected places; everyone from business executives to politicians to newspaper editorial boards spoke up in opposition.

Canyon of the Ancients
Canyon of the Ancients. Photo by Jim Wes / Alamy Stock Photos

“We, the undersigned county commissioners, write to formally state our opposition to the presidential administration’s review of the protections afforded our national monuments. These monuments are our heritage, our future and our template for preservation. The review is both illegal and in opposition to the wishes of those we represent as commissioners—the arm of government closest to the people of Colorado and the American West. Colorado is blessed with spectacular public lands that span the state. Among the most cherished are national monuments, including Colorado National Monument, Browns Canyon, Canyons of the Ancients, Chimney Rock, Florissant Fossil Beds, Dinosaur, Hovenweep and Yucca House. These treasures must be protected and preserved for future generations to enjoy.”
—letter to Zinke from 29 Colorado county commissioners

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“The designation of Canyons is an example of what the Antiquities Act was intended to do—protect cultural treasures while incorporating the historic use of the land into the management of the monument so that communities support and promote the designation.” —letter to Zinke from U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) and U.S. Representative Scott Tipton (R-Cortez)

“I’m no expert on public policy, land management, or assessing economic value. However, I know that the more people come alive, the more prosperous we will be, and these places inspire life. These are not just plots of land. They are treasure troves of wisdom, freedom, inspiration and solace—and they must be protected.” Annelise Loevlie, CEO of Denver-based Icelantic Skis, in a written comment to the Department of the Interior

“It goes without saying that in Colorado—a state that treasures its public lands—our congressional delegation would be wise to oppose any effort to undermine the Antiquities Act.” —Grand Junction’s the Daily Sentinel’s editorial board

The Update

On August 2, Zinke spares Canyons of the Ancients. The Center for Western Priorities torches him anyway. “Westerners will not grovel at Secretary Zinke’s feet or thank him for partially backing down from his attempt to wipe out treasured national monumental lands. All of our national monuments are a promise to future generations, and there will be nothing to celebrate until Secretary Zinke admits this entire exercise has been a folly designed to appease Washington insiders over the vehement objections of people in the West and across America. It’s absurd to praise the Interior secretary for simply announcing that he’s not removing protections from one of America’s archeological treasures. It’s incumbent on our elected officials to fight for all our national monuments going forward.” Aaron Weiss, media director, the Center for Western Priorities 


Climate Change

The Trump Effect

In early summer, Trump announces he will revoke the United States’ participation in the Paris climate agreement, a pact among 195 countries to limit carbon emissions. Only two nations on Earth—Nicaragua and Syria—declined to sign the landmark covenant in late 2016. As of June 1, that number increases to three.

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The Colorado Corollary

The dark cloud the Trump administration cast over efforts to combat global warming might have a silver lining: State- and local-level players are stepping up.


If political compromise feels like a pipe dream these days, consider the 2016 Paris Agreement. The voluntary pact to curtail global climate change was signed by 195 countries, all of which agreed to limit carbon emissions in their homelands. The collective commitment was more than 20 years in the making and became a hallmark success of the Obama years. Then, in June, Trump announced he would be revoking the United States’ participation in the accord.

The decision was admonished by scientists, advocates, legislators, and citizens around the world. Coloradans didn’t shy away from venting their displeasure, either: Protests—even in typically conservative-leaning Colorado Springs—were held around the state. “Withdrawing from the Paris climate accord is deeply alarming,” says Pete Maysmith, who recently left his post as executive director of Conservation Colorado, the largest environmental group in the state. “And I think it will go down in history as one of the most ill-advised moves from a president, ever.”

The United States is the second highest emitter of carbon dioxide, after China; pulling out of the agreement to reduce emissions could have catastrophic consequences over the next few decades. Here in Colorado, the projected 2.5- to five-degree increase in annual average temperatures by 2050 could mean more forest fires and more frequent droughts; it could cripple our state’s outdoors culture; and it could debilitate our tourism- and agriculture-heavy economy. Which partly explains why Centennial State politicians have declared their intentions to protect the environment and prop up clean energy even if the federal government won’t.

“Colorado has been a leader in clean energy development and will continue to be, regardless of what the Trump administration does,” says Laurie Williams, Governor John Hickenlooper’s energy and natural resources policy adviser. Fifteen Colorado mayors have pledged to align their respective cities with the goals of the Paris Agreement, and in July, Hickenlooper joined the United States Climate Alliance, a bipartisan pledge by 14 states and Puerto Rico to uphold the Paris accord. Hickenlooper’s concurrent executive order outlined ambitious goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions, slash the electricity sector’s carbon dioxide emissions, and put the $68 million settlement from Volkswagen (remember that debacle?) to good use. Ten million dollars, for example, is designated for electric vehicle purchasing incentives and electric vehicle infrastructure.

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It’s unlikely such an ambitious, state-level commitment would’ve come absent of Trump’s exodus from the near-planet-wide pact. “Leaving the agreement was a terrible political blunder, but it galvanized more action than we could’ve hoped,” Maysmith says. “It meant that thousands of governors, mayors, university presidents, and businesses [across America] all said, ‘We are still going to cut carbon pollution.’ That is a remarkable thing.”


Environment

The Trump Effect 


On May 23, Trump releases his 2018 fiscal year budget proposal. The Environmental Protection Agency is the biggest loser in the plan.

The Colorado Calculation: 31

The percentage by which the EPA’s budget could be slashed, if Trump’s proposal is approved as-is by Congress. Although few White House wish lists of this nature make it through Congress untouched, the proposed decrease to the EPA’s coffers signaled to state environmental agencies that reductions could be coming. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment—which receives 27 percent of its total annual funding for environmental programs from the EPA and manages clean water, air, and hazardous waste cleanup for the state—could see appreciable effects. Cleanup efforts at the Gold King Mine, for example, could be strangled by a lack of funds and manpower.


Visa Status

The Trump Effect

 On July 17, the Department of Homeland Security raises the cap on H-2B visas for low-wage seasonal workers for the remainder of the fiscal year.

The Colorado Corollary

In 2016, 6,179 workers came to Colorado on H-2B visas —the third highest total in the country. In mid-July, Trump increased the annual cap on H-2B visas—which allow companies to hire foreign nationals to do unskilled, nonagricultural labor on a temporary basis—from 66,000 to 81,000. The National Ski Areas Association, as well as Colorado’s two U.S. senators, lobbied for the one-time expansion. With the state’s unemployment rate at a historic low, mountain resorts rely on the visas. “These workers are vital to Colorado communities,” a spokesperson for U.S. Senator Michael Bennet says, “especially those that rely on tourism, hospitality, and outdoor recreation.”

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Contributing writers: Spencer Campbell, Kasey Cordell, Abigail Edge, Jerilyn Forsythe, Natasha Gardner & Jessica LaRusso

This article appeared in the November 2017 issue of .

Jerilyn Forsythe, Digital Associate Editor

Jerilyn Forsythe co-directs 5280.com's editorial strategy, manages the magazine's social media presence, and oversees 5280's digital internship program. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter @jlforsyt.

Jessica LaRusso, Managing Editor

Jessica LaRusso is 5280's managing editor.

Kasey Cordell, Features Editor

Kasey Cordell is 5280's features editor.

Lindsey B. Koehler, Deputy Editor

Lindsey B. Koehler is 5280's deputy editor.

Natasha Gardner, Articles Editor

Natasha Gardner writes and edits longform journalism and multimedia projects for 5280 and is a regular columnist for 5280.com.

Spencer Campbell, Senior Associate Editor

Spencer Campbell is 5280's senior associate editor

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