Hi, I’m Tracey Bernett. Thank you for the opportunity to speak today. I’m a mom, engineer, entrepreneur and runner. I’m also running for Colorado State Representative in House District 12, in eastern Boulder County. I am sure many people today will share data and facts about how oil & gas development and the burning of fossil fuels contributes to our abysmal air quality as well as climate change. As a resident of Boulder County for more than 24 years, I’d like to offer my personal experience with these issues, and tell you why I urge you to use your full authority to clean up our air and fight climate change.
I mentioned that I’m a runner. Last year, I was ranked number one in the world in the indoor mile in my age group. I also have asthma. Over the past few years, I’ve had to routinely check ozone levels and have had to scrap races and workouts because ozone levels were too high. So I ask you this: do we really want to live in a community where we have to check the weather AND the air quality everyday before going outside?
But let me tell you about the worst day of my life, the day our son nearly died of an asthma attack when he was two. There was my precious little boy, stripped down to his diapers, wearing an oxygen mask, monitors attached all over his body, his little belly blown up like a balloon because he couldn’t get air, convulsing so violently I had to hold him down in his crib. Meanwhile, the doctors were all huddled in a corner, trying to figure out how to save his life. And all I could do was pray.
My son has asthma, as do thousands of kids in Colorado, much of it caused by air pollution. Toxic air pollutants like benzene do not respect setback or county line boundaries. We have to hold oil and gas companies accountable for the damage they are causing to our environment and our health, so no one else has to live through a day like my family did.
We’ve all been experiencing the effects of climate change, like forest fires which sent my son to the ER multiple times. Or extreme weather that caused the horrible flood seven years ago, when the St Vrain river jumped its banks and cut a new path… right through my friend Donna’s Longmont home. As water gushed in the front door, she tied the leashes of her two German Shepherd dogs around her waist, because she wasn’t a very strong swimmer. Then the three of them swam out her back door and into the middle of the raging debris-filled river, eventually making it to safety.
Climate change isn’t just about our health and safety. It’s impacting our homes, our jobs, our economy, our communities, and our national security. So let’s call it what it really is: a climate crisis. And let’s act like our very existence depends on it, because it does. We have the technology and solutions to clean up our air and wean ourselves off fossil fuels. It just takes determination, courage and action. Last year, the Colorado state legislature gave AQCC important tools to help fix these problems. I urge you to do the right thing and use these tools, for our communities and for generations to come. Thank you.