I want to thank everyone who participated in Wednesday’s telephone townhall meeting. It was great to hear from so many people and to have a chance to discuss some of the issues that are most important to our community.
I can’t thank you enough for the privilege you’ve given me to serve as your representative in Washington. And I’ve never forgotten - not for a minute - the confidence and trust you have placed in me to be your voice in Congress.
With Democrats now back in control of the House, I believe we have a tremendous opportunity to pass some real, meaningful legislation this year. And enacting commonsense gun safety measures to make our communities safer from gun violence is one of our top priorities.
On Monday, I had the opportunity to meet with a group of moms from Moms Demand Action here in Denver to discuss how we can better protect our communities, and to thank them for being such a tremendous partner in that effort.
The following day, I held an event at a North Denver community center where I unveiled a new bill that I will be introducing next week to regulate the amount of hydrogen cyanide that refineries – such as Suncor’s refinery located just north of Denver – are pumping into our air.
While the Environmental Protection Agency says it does not know how much hydrogen cyanide is safe for these refineries to pump into our atmosphere, that’s not stopping Suncor’s refinery outside of Denver from pumping more than 25,000 pounds of this highly-toxic chemical into our air each year for all of us to breathe.
I believe one of our government’s most important responsibilities is to protect the health and wellbeing of our communities. And to me, the fact that the EPA has not yet set a safe maximum limit for hydrogen cyanide emissions – to protect us from the possible health effects of this toxic chemical – is ludicrous.
So, next week, as soon as Congress reconvenes, I will be introducing a bill to force the EPA to do what it’s refused to do so far – that is: set a limit for hydrogen cyanide emissions that will fully protect our communities, and require those refineries to provide real-time monitoring of their emissions and report those findings to the public.
After making that announcement, I spoke later that day to a group of roughly one hundred marijuana-related business owners who were gathered in Denver for their annual convention. Colorado’s marijuana-related businesses are now contributing more than one billion dollars to our state’s economy every year and, as I told the business owners who were gathered there that evening, I am fully committed to doing everything I can to help them succeed.
As more and more states across the country follow our lead and choose to legalize the use of medical and recreation marijuana for their citizens, the ultimate question of whether to decriminalize marijuana use entirely across the country becomes more and more pressing for Congress to take on.
That's why I fully support H.R. 420, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, that would decriminalize marijuana by removing it from all schedules of the Controlled Substances Act.
As co-chair of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus, one of my top priorities in Congress has been working to help the millions of Americans who are living with diabetes. Yesterday, as a part of that effort, I introduced a new bill that would make it easier for patients with diabetes to take advantage of self-management training classes that are available to them.
These classes show patients how to manage their glucose, eat healthy, exercise, manage their insulin levels, and improve their overall quality of life. But while 27 percent of Medicare beneficiaries currently have diabetes - less than five percent enroll in one of these self-management courses.
My bill seeks to increase patients’ use of these training seminars by making more classes available at more locations – and by making them completely free for patients with Medicare.
Finally, as part of our never-ending fight to protect and preserve our state’s unique environment, I sent a letter to our state leaders yesterday urging them to investigate recent reports that more than a half-dozen Colorado oil and gas companies are allegedly fracking along the Front Range without the necessary permits.
These reports are highly concerning to me. And, according to one local environmental group, there could be as many as seven major Colorado drilling companies operating more than a dozen fracking sites in Weld and Larimer counties without the necessary air-quality permits.
If these allegations are true, these companies could be putting the health and wellbeing of all those living in the nearby communities at risk, and I am strongly urging our state leaders to investigate these claims and to stop any violations that may be occurring.
As always, you can visit my website at www.degette.house.gov, where you can read my positions on issues and learn about the different ways my staff can assist you. While you’re there, be sure to visit the “Contact” page and send me an email about what matters most to you and your family. Finally, be sure to share this email with your friends, family, and neighbors so that they too can be a part of this important dialogue.
Member of Congress