Where the Democratic presidential candidates stand on Colorado issues

Ahead of the state’s presidential primary on Super Tuesday, the Democratic candidates talk health care, marijuana, education, public land and beer







  Public Lands




Do you support the relocation of the BLM headquarters to Colorado, and would you reverse this move if elected?

Background: The Trump administration announced it would relocate the federal Bureau of Land Management headquarters to Grand Junction in July 2019, a move supported by Republican and Democratic leaders in Colorado. The Department of the Interior now says about 40 BLM employees will transfer to the new location, far fewer than initially hoped. And the move drew controversy and a congressional investigation after critics suggested the move was designed to gut the agency.


No answer to the question

A: Biden did not respond to questions, and his position is unknown.




Opposes BLM move to Colorado

A: The former mayor opposes the BLM move to Colorado, calling it “either some kind of cheap effort to score points … or even worse, a cynical ploy to make public lands management less effective.” Bloomberg argues that moving a “skeleton crew” to Colorado would cut important officials off from scientists, the White House and Congress, making it harder to do their jobs. However, he would not say whether he would reverse the decision.




The campaign did not respond to questions about Buttigieg’s position.

A: The campaign did not respond to questions about Buttigieg’s position.




Position not clear

A: Klobuchar’s campaign did not respond to questions about her views.




Pledges to reverse BLM headquarters move in Colorado

A: Sanders told The Sun he opposes the transfer of the BLM headquarters, and if elected, he said he would reverse it. He believes the move was part of the Trump administration’s efforts to “weaken oversight on public lands.”




Wants BLM headquarters to return to D.C.

A: Steyer opposes the relocation and advocates for returning the headquarters to D.C. “Moving the headquarters to Colorado places heavy burdens on career staff who have dedicated their lives to this agency, reduces transparency, and risks allowing mining and fossil fuel interests to exert more influence over the BLM’s decision-making without normal oversight,” he told The Sun.




Concerned about the impact of the move

A: The senator is skeptical of the headquarters move to Grand Junction, but would not say whether she would seek to undo it. Instead, Warren is trying to walk a fine line: She favors more BLM resources on the ground in Western states but is worried that it will weaken the agency and cause it to lose key staff. If elected, Warren said she would develop a reorganization plan for the agency to increase its effectiveness and accountability and improve the management of public lands. But she did not offer specifics about how it would work. Warren did pledge to fully fund the agency in her first term and eliminate the infrastructure and maintenance backlog for public lands.





Do you support efforts to expand access to public lands, and do you support the CORE Act?

Background: The fierce debate over who can use Colorado’s federally owned public lands -- and for what purpose -- is a constant fault line in Colorado politics. The U.S. House last year passed the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act -- a massive public lands measure that would designate roughly new 100,000 acres for wilderness and recreation in the state, and remove more than 200,000 acres from oil and gas development. The measure has stalled in the GOP-led Senate and faces a veto threat from the White House. Meanwhile, some Colorado Republicans are pushing for changes, like protections for water rights and grazing for local farmers and ranchers, before they’re willing to support it.


Wants public lands protected

A: Biden’s campaign website states that he would protect public lands, designating them national parks and monuments. He also said he would permanently put the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge off limits for development. It’s not clear if he supports the CORE Act.




Praises sponsors behind public lands bill

A: Bloomberg says he supports expanding access to public lands, but has not outlined specific policies on the subject. He promised to release his policies soon. He did not explicitly endorse the CORE Act in his response to The Sun, but his campaign praised Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. Joe Neguse for the bill’s development. Bloomberg’s campaign said his public lands policy would have a goal of protecting “the landscapes that are so critical for clean water, for wildlife habitat, for recreation and for other uses.”




Protect public lands and plant more trees

A: The campaign did not respond to questions, so it’s not clear whether he supports the legislation. But Buttigieg has said that he would protect current federal lands and designate new parks and monuments. A public lands plan released in February also states he would support “locally relevant conservation, access, and environmental justice policy.” In addition, he has said he wants to mobilize Americans to “plant billions of new trees in forests, national parks, and public lands across the country.”




Backs public lands designations at home

A: She supported public lands designations in her home state of Minnesota. But it’s not clear where she stands on this legislation or the broader issue.




Green New Deal would prioritize public lands

A: His Green New Deal plan would protect public lands, and suggests he would reauthorize and expand the Civilian Conservation Corps to help upgrade them. He believes the government-owned lands can help address climate change by preserving forests and maintaining healthy soils. It’s not clear if he supports the CORE Act.




Supports CORE Act and wants free national parks

A: When asked if he supports expanding access to public lands and the CORE Act, Steyer responded: “Yes.” He went further to say he wants to make national park admission free for all Americans and promised to put $25 billion toward upgrading facilities. He also wants to “mobilize $130 billion in new investments” for forest health and wildfire mitigation, as well as carbon sequestration and regenerative agriculture. He sees management of public lands as part of the effort to address climate change.




Increase access to public lands

A: The senator wants to dramatically expand access to public lands for recreation, allowing hunting, fishing and other activities on 50% of the 10 million acres that are currently inaccessible to the public. She also wants to make national parks free to enter, arguing that hefty entry fees make them virtually inaccessible to low-income families. The share of park expenses currently funded by fees would presumably shift to taxpayers more broadly, but she did not provide specifics in her campaign’s response to The Sun, or in a blog post outlining her public lands plan. Warren did not respond to The Sun’s question about whether she supports the CORE Act.



Background: The Trump administration has aggressively promoted energy production on public lands, including in Colorado. The state is among the leaders in drilling on public lands, and the effort is expanding. In 2017, the federal Bureau of Land Management wanted to limit oil and gas production on 190,000 acres in eastern Colorado, but in 2019, the BLM suggested granting protections to fewer than 2,000 acres. This has riled wildlife conservationists who want to protect habitats, including those for the sage grouse, and also those who want to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Gov. Jared Polis noted that allowing more development on federal lands would cause a 27% increase in greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas development in the state. Proponents counter that the lease proceeds can help fund national parks.


No new permits for drilling on public lands

A: His campaign website says he opposes new permits for drilling on public lands and waters. But he favors using public lands and waters for renewable energy. In February, he released a public lands plan to strengthen protections for government lands at threat from oil and gas development, such as Bears Ears National Monument in Utah.




Regulations need revamping before drilling continues

A: The candidate would put a temporary moratorium on any additional public lands being used for oil and gas production. But only until his administration puts new rules in place. Bloomberg wants to revamp regulations to address health, safety and the environment, as well as increase rent and royalty payments the energy companies pay to produce on public lands. His new plan also would include opportunities for renewable energy, adhere to goals to reduce carbon pollution and help workers affected by declining oil and gas production.




No new permits for drilling

A: His campaign website states that he opposes new drilling leases on public lands, but it’s not clear how he would handle current ones.




Opposes new drilling operations

A: Her campaign website says she opposes new permits for drilling on federal lands, but says nothing about existing operations. The position has drawn fire from some environmentalists.




Wants to ban oil and gas extraction on federal lands

A: He introduced legislation in 2015 to ban new oil and gas drilling operations on federal public lands. If elected he pledged to issue an executive order prohibiting the practice.




Called for end to oil and gas production on federal lands

A: Steyer rose to prominence as a billionaire climate change activist and he’s clear on his position: “We need to stop all forms of fossil fuel infrastructure and production on public lands.” The candidate also wants to permanently ban drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge. In addition to ending any current oil and gas production on public lands, he wants to restore protected areas.




Moratorium on new drilling leases in favor of renewable energy

A: Warren wants to put a moratorium on all new drilling leases -- including those on public lands. As for public lands, the senator wants to expand renewable energy production, with a target of generating at least 10% of the country’s electricity from public lands and off-shore sources. The royalties from renewable energy would be shared with state and local governments to help offset the drop in severance taxes from fossil fuels that local communities depend on. She also backs restoring federally protected status to national monuments such as Bear Ears in neighboring Utah. <br>



The Issues

Pick a card to see stances from the candidates.


The Candidates

Click a candidate to see where they stand.


Joe Biden

Joe Biden

Former Vice President and U.S. Senator   

Michael Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg

Former New York Mayor and businessman   

x Pete Buttigieg

x Pete Buttigieg

Former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana (Campaign suspended 3/1/20)   

x Amy Klobuchar

x Amy Klobuchar

U.S. Senator from Minnesota (Campaign suspended 3/2/20)   

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders

Independent U.S. Senator from Vermont   

x Tom Steyer

x Tom Steyer

Businessman and climate activist (Campaign suspended 2/29/20)   

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren

U.S. Senator from Massachusetts