OSCAR Newsletter | January 2021

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January 2021

Welcome to Boulder County's Office of Sustainability, Climate Action, and Resilience (OSCAR) newsletter. This newsletter is emailed once a month and contains stories and information about our work and offers ways the public can get involved in sustainability and climate action initiatives.

A New Year and a Hopeful Start



Director of Sustainability, Climate Action & Resilience, Boulder County

Looking back on January, I've felt a change in the air; my colleagues around the nation and here in Boulder have been feeling — dare I say — optimistic.

President Biden’s first actions on climate are bold and reinvigorating. Rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, along with first day executive orders on climate change and racial equity, provide buoyancy for those of us feeling deflated on national climate action. There's also so much hope for us locally, as we continue to move forward with high impact efforts to tackle the climate emergency. One new initiative I'm particularly excited about is our support for workforce development in clean energy  

In partnership with non-profit GRID Alternatives, unemployed and underemployed Boulder County residents are receiving free solar installation training. The trainees in the photo below built a 100kW community solar system from start to finish for the residents of Ponderosa Mobile Home Park. Not only did the trainees complete an in-class, hands-on installation on an actual job site, they also received career readiness competency, soft skills training, and professional networking opportunities over the course of this six week intensive training program. We are incredibly excited about this program's growth and continuation and we're already hearing success stories: 70% of trainees start careers in solar after this program.

With this program and others, I'm reminded of this climate change mantra:

Experts agree. 

It’s real. 

It’s us. 

It’s bad. 

There’s hope! 

Here's to hope in 2021. — Susie

Solar Workforce Training

Boulder County Awards Sustainability Grants to Local Communities

Boulder County announced the recipients of 2021's Environmental Sustainability Grants in nine Boulder County communities. The Environmental Sustainability Matching Grant Program provides an opportunity for governmental organizations in the county to address environmental sustainability priorities within their communities.

The 2021 Sustainability Grant recipients are pursuing diverse projects that include climate vulnerability and risk mappingwater conservation, business sustainability support, and carbon sequestration actions across ecosystems.

Read more about the selected projects here

Municipal grants

How to Safely Dispose of Household Hazardous Waste

This year, make a resolution to protect our waterways by properly disposing of household hazardous waste (HHW) at Boulder County’s Hazardous Materials Management Facility. Here's what to do:

Step 1Learn about household hazardous wasteThey include products that contain hazardous ingredients and require special care when you dispose of them. These are products that can catch fire, react, explode under certain circumstances, or are corrosive or toxic. They are cleaners, car products, batteries, and lawn products. See a full list here. 

Step 2: Check if your HHW is stored safely and if any are unneeded or expired. Keep them contained and indoors or in a covered area to prevent spills. 

Step 3Check the facility hours, your eligibility to drop products off, what items they accept, and if you need an appointment. Never dump these chemicals in outdoor storm drains, sinks, toilets, or trash cans.  

By responsibly disposing of fertilizers, medications, paints, and other household hazardous waste, you are keeping them from accidentally ending up in our streams and negatively impacting aquatic life.

Boulder County Waterways

Restore Colorado Webinar: Registration Now Open

Partners for a Clean Environment (PACE) will host a free informational webinar about Restore Colorado on February 17th at 3pm.

The webinar will feature a presentation by restauranteurs participating in the program and Anthony Myint, Co-Founder of Zero Foodprint, winner of the James Beard Foundation's '2020 Humanitarian of the Year' award.

Restore Colorado is a voluntary program that gives participating restaurants the opportunity to fight climate change and support local agriculture. Restaurants that choose to participate can add an optional 1% surcharge to the customer receipt. This surcharge revenue will be used to support carbon farming on regional farmland.

Restaurants who sign up to participate by March 15th will eligible for:

  • Early adopter recognition in the program press release
  • Social media toolkit
  • Free customer promotional give away to highlight participation and drive customer traffic

Restauranteurs, members of the agricultural community, and members of the public are invited to attend.

Register here.

Click below to watch an interview with program partner, Marcus McCauley of Longmont's McCauley Family Farms:

MarcusMcCauley Interview

Recent News

Jack's artist in residence

Jack's Solar Garden seeks applications for Artist on the Farm 

Applications are now open for Jack's Solar Garden's Artist on the Farm. The selected artist will receive $1000 to create and display work that shares the story of the solar garden and engages the community. Applications are due March 3, 2021.

Read more in the Lefthand Valley Courier. Apply here.

Amicus Brief

County joins amicus brief criticizing EPA vehicle emissions rule

The brief objects to the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule for failing to address climate change.

"With the climate crisis, the last thing we should do is allow cars to pollute more,” said Boulder County Board of Commissioners Chair, Matt Jones. Read more here.

Air Quality and Public Health

Colorado Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap Updates

Colorado’s final Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap was released on January 14, 2021. The Roadmap shows that the largest source sectors of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Colorado are:  

  1. Transportation 
  2. Electricity generation 
  3. Oil and gas development 
  4. Fuel use in homes, business and industrial applications 

The Roadmap and an accompanying Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) resolution create reduction targets for each sector. The Roadmap identifies equity concerns and outlines how they will be factored into all plans. The Climate Equity Framework, which provides more detail on equitable community engagement, will be available for public comment by February 10. 

Boulder County and other local governments have consistently commented that these GHG reduction targets need to either encompass enforceable limits for each major sector OR implement a Colorado-wide program across economic sectors that cap emissions and create reductions over time — these targets also prioritize action that benefits communities disproportionately impacted by climate change.

Get Involved: Register for February's AQCC Rulemaking Hearing

February 18 - 19, the AQCC will hold a rulemaking hearing to consider proposals to further reduce methane and volatile organic compound emissions from pneumatic controllers used at oil and gas operations. Proposals include a requirement for non-emitting pneumatics to be installed at all new sites and a requirement for many existing sites to be retrofitted with non-emitting pneumatics. The AQCC will also hear a briefing on the Roadmap and will consider a petition for rulemaking by Environmental Defense Fund asking the Commissioners to consider a mandatory economy-wide GHG reduction program for Colorado.  

Download meeting materials, register to attend, or submit a public comment here.

Meet the Team

Toby Russell, Business Sustainability Advisor 

What do you do at OSCAR? I'm on the PACE team which helps businesses become more sustainable. I primarily work directly with restaurants, but I also specialize in water conservation and zero waste — everyone on our team has broad sustainability expertise, but we all specialize in certain areas.

What do you like most about your job? Over the last two years, I helped develop and implement our Small Business Equity Program, which is designed to replace old kitchen equipment and lighting for some of our most underserved businesses. The program pays 70% of new equipment costs and we help every step of the way until the equipment is installed. The businesses that participate save significantly on their utility bills. The relationships formed through this program have been the most rewarding part of my job. 

Hometown? This is such a hard question for me. I feel that we need at least three different terms for home: where you were born; where you identify as home; and where you live now. I was born and raised in the Highlands of Scotland. I went the University of Glasgow and the city of Glasgow stole a large chunk of my heart (and many of my brain cells). I have been in Boulder County since 2005 and have lived in Lyons since 2009. I love Lyons as it reminds me of my hometown in the Scottish Highlands. You walk down the street and know half the people by name and the other half you recognize. I lived through the flood here and was grateful to be involved in the recovery process. To me, home means community and love. I feel very blessed to be where I am.

Hobbies? I play guitar and I am currently honing DJ skills in order to host a radio show on KGNU — my long-term goal is to run a music incubator for up-and-coming bands that broadcasts live performances. I also do a lot of home improvement work to make our home a sanctuary for my family. However, the truth is that I am really a geek who likes to play overly complex board games with his friends till the wee hours of the morning. 

Favorite book? I just said I was a geek, right? I am a bit of a sci-fi fantasy nut and love world building fantasies. My favorite book, hands down, would have to be the Lord of the Rings trilogy—I read it every few years and every time I gain new insights into Tolkien’s vast world. 

TobyToby Books

What are you reading right now? I am reading The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu. It’s a sci-fi book set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution. The author has said that the English translation catches the nuances better than the original Chinese version.

Favorite movie? Mmmmm. My favorite movie would have to be Lord of the Rings. No, I’ll pick something else. My favorite movie is Ghost Busters—I used to know every word when I was 12. Since I was born abroad, I was not exposed to SNL and this was my first taste of that colorful cast. 

Favorite musician? My favorite solo artist is Nina Simone, she just gives me the feels when I listen to her vocals and piano playing. My favorite band is Radiohead who I admire for continuously reinventing themselves — they also put on the best live show I have ever seen. 

Events Calendar

Restore Colorado Webinar

February 17, 2021

3 p.m.

Free informational webinar about Restore Colorado, a voluntary program that gives participating restaurants the opportunity to fight climate change and support local agriculture.

Register to attend here.

Colorado Air Quality Control Commission Meeting

February 18 - 19, 2021

This rulemaking hearing will consider proposals to further reduce methane and volatile organic compound emissions from pneumatic controllers used at oil and gas operations.

Download meeting materials, register to attend, or submit public comments here.

Jack's Solar Garden Artist on the Farm Application Deadline

March 3, 2021

Selected artist will receive $1000 stipend to highlight solar garden's connection to the community through visual art. 

Submit an application here.