AURORA | A city advisory committee focused on climate was defeated for the second time by the Aurora City Council, prompting political discourse, frustration from proponents, disapproval from opponents and a vague competing proposal from Mayor Mike Coffman.
The revised proposal from Council Member Alison Coombs further defined the scope of work for the advisory committee, removed a previous section that repealed the city Oil and Gas Advisory Committee and changed two of the membership categories.
In the new proposal, discussed at Monday’s study session, the committee would be made up of five residents, one or two people from an advocacy group, at least one land use expert, at least one transportation expert, one or two people employed in the energy industry, and one or two Aurora business owners.
The chairperson or majority of the commission could also recommend adding two additional members who have experience working with state and regional governing bodies “that address climate change, air quality, water quality, or environmental protections.”
The original proposal for the Climate Action Committee called to dissolve the current Oil and Gas Advisory Committee, which is constructed of industry stakeholders, residents affected by oil and gas production in Aurora and surface property owners. Coombs removed that wording to appease her conservative colleagues, but it still did not garner enough support.
In the middle of discussion, Coffman announced a forthcoming environmental committee, which he said would encompass more than Coombs’ proposal.
“I will go forward with the drafting of an environmental committee, where climate change will be a component part of it, as we look at carbon offsets at the local level, but it will accomplish much more and I will put that forward before the end of the year,” he said, not giving any further detail about his vision for a committee that would deal with climate issues.
Some council members were wary of the pitch, saying that it emulates the work Coombs has already done for the Climate Action Advisory Committee.
“I’m not sure why we would need a competing measure, unless it’s just to be adversarial. Council Member Coombs brought this forward at least a month ago, and was very forthcoming about being open to working with people and their concerns,” Council Member Allison Hiltz said during the meeting. “So I’m just not sure why everybody was not willing to work with Council Member Coombs…I just I hope that you can maybe find it in your heart to try to work together with the person who already brought this forward.”
Council Member Curtis Gardner said he wasn’t in support of the committee because it would have the ability to essentially review any ordinance proposal. He also made note during the meeting of a social media post from Council Member Juan Marcano that called Republican members of council who voted against the original proposal part of a “sadistic death cult.” Coombs liked the post.
“So frankly, I didn’t really feel like it was my place or like, I really wanted to spend the time to get this to a place where I could support it,” Gardner said.
Marcano said he stood by his comments.
“So I do believe in radical candor, and my intent is not to be a career politician. So if you take offense to me being very honest with people, and expressing to them what I see on the inside on the other side of this dais, coming from Republican elected officials, I’m sorry,” he said. “I think you might need to do some soul searching because I do believe, honest to God, that the Republican Party is a sadistic death cult. It is the most dangerous organization that has ever existed on this planet. You ignore science. You obstruct. You refuse to have conversations with people. This is something that I see at the local level all the way up to the halls of Congress.”
Council members Francoise Bergan, Marsha Berzins, Dave Gruber, Gardner and Coffman opposed to moving the proposal to a floor vote.
Coffman gave few details about a timeline for his own proposal, but said it would be introduced before the end of the year.