The dome of the Colorado State Capitol Building

The dome of the Colorado State Capitol Building

We open the Colorado installment of the “Advocating on the Road” series with this piece.

By Brad Wood
Director, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry- CO

For Lutherans in Colorado, the opportunities to commune with God extend beyond our houses of worship into the great beauty of the Colorado landscape. Many times I am reminded of the greatness of God while hiking in the mountains, spending time in one of many parks, or driving past the grasslands and fields.

Energy is a major driver of the economy in Colorado, with much oil, coal and natural gas production for the entire United States happening within the Rocky Mountain Region. Amid  the great beauty of God’s creation in Colorado are expanses of prairie lands and over 300 days of sunshine a year, making Colorado an ideal place for new energy technologies like wind and solar to grow and prosper. 

Congregations in Colorado are committed to recycling, completing energy audits and using renewable resources. And ELCA members also know that we need to work hard to protect the beauty of God’s creation. I know many people who feel that God has called them to stand up to help protect God’s beauty and resources in different ways, from advocacy to trail rebuilding. 

Back in 2004, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – CO worked to pass a ballot measure requiring that 10 percent of Colorado’s power come from renewable resources by 2015 (a goal that has been met already!).  New legislation passed in 2009 has set the bar even higher, at 30 percent renewable resource generation by 2020. People of faith have recognized that using wind and solar technologies is good for the planet and good for the people of Colorado as new jobs are created and the economy grows. 

In 2012 our network of Colorado Lutherans turned its attention to the issue of electronic waste (commonly called e-waste) recycling.  Currently, Colorado homes and businesses are generating between 40,000 to 160,000 tons of e-waste a year. Only 8,000 tons of this is actually being recycled.  Electronic waste has many toxic materials that if left in landfills can pollute our air, land and water. 

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – CO worked to pass a measure this session that will ban e-waste from landfills and increase the amount of electronic waste recycled in the state. Banning electronic waste, such as televisions, laptops, copiers and fax machines, from Colorado’s landfills will decrease the amount of toxic metals entering our land, air and water. This was also an economic issue:  This ban will return valuable metals found in electronics, such as copper and aluminum, to manufacturing, strengthening our local economy and stimulating the development of green technologies and products that are easier to reuse. Recycling businesses will need to expand, hire more employees, and provide greater service and access to recycling to Colorado residents. Recycling  the materials used in electronics also saves energy: Recycling 1 million laptops each year would save the equivalent of the electricity used by 3,657 average U.S. homes in a year by avoiding the energy used in mining and refining metal and other materials.  Finally, more e-waste recycling will create jobs here in Colorado—for every 10,000 tons of electronic waste recycled, at least 130 jobs are created with the possibility of twice that many.

The passage of the bill was due in part to many ELCA members who chose to take action using Lutheran Advocacy Ministry- Colorado’s e-advocacy network, contacting lawmakers and asking them to support the bill. This piece of bi-partisan legislation was signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper, giving everyone in Colorado a chance to help support new jobs and protect the environment and make the beauty of Colorado sustainable for generations to come. 

ELCA members and congregations in Colorado will continue to take steps to care for God’s creation.  Our churches recycle, cut back on waste and explore new and innovative sources of energy.  In turn, we will continue to urge our lawmakers to adopt policies that encourage renewable energy production and growth that protect God’s creation and ensure a more stable economy in our state. 

Keep an eye on the ‘Advocating on the Road’ series on the Voices for Change blog for contributions from Lutherans in Colorado in the coming days.