Michael Bennet has represented Colorado in the United States Senate since 2009. Widely recognized as a pragmatic and independent thinker, he is driven by a deep-seated obligation to create more opportunity for the next generation. Michael has built a reputation of taking on Washington dysfunction and working with Republicans and Democrats to address our nation’s greatest challenges – including education, climate change, immigration, health care, and national security.

Accomplishments

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Apr 2021

Bennet Issues Strong Support for Reversing a Trump Administration Methane Rule in Floor Speech




 


Washington, D.C. Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet issued strong support for the bipartisan effort to return to sensible methane policy by reversing a Trump-era methane rule through the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The previous administration's rule limits the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate methane, a leading cause of climate change that endangers public health. Eliminating it will help the U.S. create jobs, protect the environment, and address the growing threat of climate change. 


In his remarks, Bennet highlighted Colorado’s leadership as the first state in the nation to adopt rules for methane pollution for new and existing oil and gas facilities.


“Methane pollution is terrible for the environment because it accelerates climate change. It’s terrible for our health because it puts toxins in the air we breathe – especially for the nearly 10 million Americans who live near oil and gas wells, or go to school near oil and gas wells. It’s also terrible for industry, because it makes their fuel much dirtier, and it cuts into their bottom line,” said Bennet. “ Under the leadership of then-Governor Hickenlooper, now Senator Hickenlooper – we adopted, as a state, the country’s first-ever rules to limit methane pollution for oil and gas facilities. And our approach worked so well that the EPA and the Bureau of Land Management drew on it for methane rules at the federal level.”


He continued: “So let me say this, you cannot accept, if you want to fix climate change, the broken politics that we have here. We can’t accept the rubble that we sometimes have here. We have to do better than that, and I think we can, and I think by starting with this methane rule and hopefully doing it in a bipartisan way, it’ll be a great beginning.”


Bennet’s full remarks as delivered are available below.


In Colorado, we’ve come out of one of the worst wildfire seasons we’ve ever seen. In fact, you can’t really call it a season, I think, when the fires are still going on when the snow falls. But that’s what happened this year, incredibly. Three of the largest fires in our history all happened in the same year. 


And, these fires displaced thousands of people in my state. They obscured the views of the mountains for weeks at a time. They forced families to pack their entire lives into duffel bags while their homes went up in flames. They shut down major highways for weeks and paralyzed local economies and blanketed our communities with smoke.


And if you ask anyone in Colorado why this is happening, they’ll tell you it’s because our state is becoming hotter and drier each year. If you ask farmers and ranchers in Colorado – and a lot of them are Republicans – they’ll tell you they’re facing drought that’s longer and more intense than their parents or grandparents ever had to deal with. 


Our mountain towns will tell you that they’re struggling with ski seasons that are growing shorter each year, and our water officials will tell you they’re planning for a future with a lot less water to go around -- and there wasn’t enough water to begin with. 


And the reason for all of that is climate change. 


And it’s why, in Colorado – a purple state, a swing state in the middle of the country – there is absolutely a consensus that we have a moral responsibility to deal with climate change as a threat to our economy, to our environment, and to our way of life.


That responsibility extends to the United States Senate. But for most of the time I’ve been here, we’ve treated climate change like it was gonna somehow solve itself. Or in some cases, that it didn’t even really exist. 


And nothing could be further from the truth. 


This is a problem for all 50 states and every American. It’s a problem for humanity. And we can’t deal with it in an enduring way unless the hundred people in this body take action. Until the hundred people here are willing to lead -- on a challenge that is existential, yes, and also global, yes, and that’s also crying out for the leadership of the Senate. There’s nobody else to ride to the rescue. We have to do this.


And we can start tomorrow by voting to reverse -- and I hope it will be a big, bipartisan vote tomorrow -- by voting to reverse the last administration’s terrible, counterproductive, self-destructive policy on methane pollution.


Methane is not something people ever think about, and it’s one of the most powerful greenhouse gases behind climate change. It can be over 80 times more potent, Mr. President, than carbon dioxide, and it’s responsible for a quarter of all the warming that the planet has seen since the Industrial Revolution. 


And today, one of the biggest sources of methane pollution is the oil and gas industry -- in my state and the great state of Texas where the senior senator is from, and all across the country -- where methane leaks into the atmosphere from old pipes, broken vents, and outdated practices like burning excess gas.  


Methane pollution is terrible for the environment because it accelerates climate change. 


It’s terrible for our health because it puts toxins in the air we breathe – especially for the nearly 10 million Americans who live near oil and gas wells, or go to school near oil and gas wells. 


It’s also terrible for industry, because it makes their fuel much dirtier, and it cuts into their bottom line. 


And that’s why years ago, I think it was 2014, in Colorado, – under the leadership of then-Governor Hickenlooper, now Senator Hickenlooper – we adopted, as a state, the country’s first-ever rules to limit methane pollution for oil and gas facilities. Governor Hickenlooper worked by bringing environmentalists and industry leaders together to craft a policy that reflected the consensus in my state around climate change and our economy.


And our approach worked so well that the EPA and the Bureau of Land Management drew on it for methane rules at the federal level.


When the last administration went after the rules at BLM, our late friend Senator John McCain led a bipartisan majority in this body to keep them in place.


At the time, the Trump Administration claimed that the federal methane rules destroyed energy production and killed jobs. 


That was never true, to be polite about it. In Colorado, our natural gas production has grown. Our oil production has nearly doubled. Our innovation and jobs have increased. Today, there are 52 different businesses in my state hiring people to repair pipes, to track pollution, and to develop new technologies to reduce pollution. This has strengthened our economy.


Colorado’s approach worked so well that we’ve gone back and strengthened -- strengthened -- our methane rules another three times – in 2017, in 2019, and 2020 – each time with support from both environmental groups and industry.


But instead of learning from our example, the Trump administration went ahead with its plans to dismantle methane rules at the federal level. And it did that over the objections of leading oil and gas operators in my state and across the country.


The result was a self-inflicted wound on our economy, our environment, and it compromised our leadership in the world. 


And now I hope we’ll pick the pieces up in a bipartisan way, because, here’s what I think, Mr. President. We are not going to solve climate change until we have an American climate policy, just like we once had something we called U.S. foreign policy, where every president who was elected -- whether they were a Republican or a Democrat -- they roughly knew what their job was with respect to the Soviet Union, with respect to the trans-Atlantic alliance.


There were differences, of course, and we made lots of mistakes with that organizing principle, but it was an important organizing principle, that thing we called American foreign policy. And we’re going to need something called American climate policy. 


We didn’t try to win the Cold War two years at a time, and we can’t accept a politics in here where I put in my ideas for health care and two years later they get ripped out and put in somebody’s ideas for infrastructure, and two years later they get ripped out. We can’t tolerate it for those things, for education or taxes. People need predictability. They don’t want to succumb to the political antics of Washington, DC, and this floor.


But when it comes to climate change, that’s really true. Because we can’t fix it two years at a time. I often hear people say we have to act urgently on climate change -- we do, it’s true -- but we also need a solution that’s durable -- one that will last changes in the majorities in the Congress and changes in who’s in the White House, so we can actually pass off that durable solution to our kids and grandkids who can then pick up the baton.


So let me say this, you cannot accept, if you want to fix climate change, the broken politics that we have here. We can’t accept the rubble that we sometimes have here. We have to do better than that, and I think we can, and I think by starting with this methane rule and hopefully doing it in a bipartisan way, it’ll be a great beginning.


Coming together on methane pollution is the perfect place to start. In Colorado, 91 percent of people support limits on methane pollution. It has the support of environmental groups and industry, as I said earlier – including America’s largest natural gas producers. It has a record of bipartisan support in this body. 


And it has the potential to create thousands of jobs -- high-paying jobs -- mostly in rural areas, where people are reasonably concerned about what this energy transition is going to mean for them. Let’s pay people to capture methane, to make the industry viable, to make the product less harmful, and to create high-paying jobs in rural areas in America that need them.


I know I don’t have all the answers for how to build a durable climate policy in America, but I know that a sensible approach to methane has to be part of the solution. And that approach has to address not only new oil and gas facilities, but existing ones like we’ve done in Colorado.


And that’s what this resolution will do. It will restore EPA’s obligation to regulate all sources of methane emissions, including existing oil and gas operations, where there are hundreds of thousands of older wells that are responsible for 75% of methane emissions from the industry. 


It will help us protect the environment and create jobs. 


And it will show the world that America can come together -- that this Senate can come together -- in a bipartisan way to deal with climate change.


Because when I think about it, Mr. President, I don’t want any of us to come back to this floor 10 years from now, or 20 years from now, and describe how we’ve just gone through the worst wildfire season, ever -- or the worst hurricane season, ever -- more likely in your state than in my state -- or the worst drought in our history. 


I want them to come back and celebrate how America led the world to overcome the climate threat.


I want them to praise the era of innovation and job creation unleashed across the country.


And I want them to point out what we did -- in this Congress, with this vote -- to put America on a path to protect our planet, grow our economy, and fulfill our responsibility to our kids and our grandkids.


So I urge my colleagues, every single one of them, to cast a vote for this important methane policy to set us on the bipartisan course we need to create if we’re going to have durable climate change policy in this country, and if America is going to lead the world. 


With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor. 


Mar 2018

Fire Funding Fix

After years of bipartisan work, Michael led the effort to secure a long-term funding fix to end “fire borrowing,” the practice of taking money from fire prevention accounts to pay to fight fires. The fix modernizes the Forest Service by increasing its capacity to budget effectively and restore forest health, allowing the Forest Service to complete the entirety of its mission. The fix also included forest management reforms that build on Michael’s work in the 2014 Farm Bill to expand Good Neighbor Authority and improve Stewardship Contracting.

Jan 2018

Outdoor Retailer Show Moves to Colorado

Following a 2017 letter from Michael, Senator Cory Gardner, and Governor John Hickenlooper, the Outdoor Retailer show announced its move from Utah to Colorado. The decision recognized Colorado’s commitment to protecting public lands—the foundation of our outdoor economy. In January 2018, professionals from across the outdoor industry gathered in Denver for the first Outdoor Retailer show in Denver, where Michael joined them and announced the introduction of a bill to protect Colorado’s Continental Divide and preserve the outdoor recreation legacy of Camp Hale.

Sep 2017

RACE for Children Act Passes

When the bipartisan Research to Accelerate Cures and Equity (RACE) for Children Act passed into law, Michael called it a “breakthrough for kids in Colorado and around the country fighting cancer.” RACE for Children supports the development of innovative cancer drugs for children, for the first time allowing kids to access the same cutting-edge medications that show promise in adults.

Dec 2015

Wind and Solar Tax Credit Extension

Michael knows that renewable energy like wind and solar strengthen Colorado’s diverse energy industry and support thousands of high-paying jobs. He secured five-year extensions of the wind production tax credit (PTC) and solar investment tax credit (ITC) to provide certainty for renewable energy manufacturers and producers in Colorado and around the country.

Sep 2015

ESSA

As a member of the Senate HELP Committee, Michael helped author and pass the Every Student Succeeds Act, a bipartisan bill that revamps No Child Left Behind’s prescriptive, top-down approach while maintaining its core strengths. As a member of the Senate HELP Committee and the former Superintendent of Denver Public Schools, Michael secured measures in the bill that modernize the teacher hiring process, increase funding flexibility, and reward innovative educational practices.

Apr 2015

Better Buildings Act Passes

Promoting energy efficiency needs to be part of our larger strategy to combat climate change and boost our economic and national security. To accomplish this, Michael helped pass the Better Buildings Act, a commonsense law to encourage commercial building tenants to implement cost-effective measures that will help reduce energy consumption and utility costs for businesses.

Feb 2015

Browns Canyon Designation

Browns Canyon attracts outdoor enthusiasts from around the world to hike, climb, and raft among its rugged beauty—creating tourism and jobs that boost local economies. Following efforts from Michael and other Colorado lawmakers—including letters and legislation—President Obama designated Browns Canyon as a national monument, protecting the area while maintaining existing uses.

Jun 2014

Denver Patent Office Opens

Michael sponsored an amendment to open the first permanent patent office west of the Mississippi. The resulting Denver office generates millions of dollars for the region and makes it easier for Colorado’s innovators and small business owners to access patent office services.

Jan 2014

Farm Bill

As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Michael hosted dozens of meetings and listening sessions with farmers and ranchers across Colorado as he wrote and helped pass the 2014 Farm Bill. The bill provided farmers and ranchers with much-needed certainty, cut red tape by streamlining dozens of programs, and enabled new partnerships to conserve Colorado’s natural resources—all while providing meaningful deficit reduction.

Oct 2013

Bipartisan Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection

In collaboration with local sportsmen, snowmobilers, conservationists, and miners, Michael worked in Congress to protect more than 100,000 acres of the Hermosa Creek Watershed in Southwest Colorado. The law follows recommendations from local stakeholders for the designation of wilderness areas, as well as other areas specifically for outdoor recreation. The compromise among a diverse group of Coloradans should serve as a model for Washington.

Feb 2013

SAFER Act Helps Reduce Rape Kit Backlog

Survivors of sexual assault should not have to wait for justice to be served while DNA evidence sits untested. Michael helped pass a law that gives police and crime labs greater flexibility to use the resources available to them to test rape kits. In 2017, he introduced an updated version of the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) Act to extend and improve the law.

Jan 2013

First Breakthrough Therapy Drug Approved

Michael helped pass the bipartisan Breakthrough Therapies Designation to expedite the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process for cutting-edge drugs and treatments that show dramatic responses early in development. In 2013, the FDA approved its first breakthrough drug to treat leukemia. Since then, the designation has led to life-saving innovations in cancer, cystic fibrosis, and other diseases.

Jan 2013

Gang of Eight Immigration Bill

As a member of the “Gang of Eight,” a group of four Democrats and four Republicans, Michael authored and helped pass comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate—the most monumental change in immigration laws in decades. The legislation would have secured the border, created a pathway to citizenship, and fixed visa programs while protecting American workers. Due to partisan gridlock, the bill never came to the House floor for a vote. However, it has endured as a model for addressing immigration reform in a principled way.

Sep 2012

Chimney Rock National Monument Designation

After years of bipartisan effort from the Colorado delegation—including Michael introducing legislation, writing letters, and working with local tribes—President Obama designated Chimney Rock as a national monument. Not only did this ensure Chimney Rock’s protection for future generations, but it also boosted tourism and the economy in the region.

Jun 2012

FDA Reform

In his role on the Senate HELP Committee, Michael coauthored bipartisan legislation to modernize the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). He spearheaded several amendments in the law to streamline regulatory processes, while maintaining safety and efficacy for consumers. He also secured the Breakthrough Therapies Designation, making it possible for innovative drugs and treatments to reach the market more quickly.

Lifetime Outside Politics

Before his appointment to the Senate in 2009 and subsequent election to a full six-year term in 2010, Michael served as Superintendent of Denver Public Schools, where he led a bold and inclusive reform effort that improved student achievement, helped turn around failing schools, and brought a halt to a seemingly endless cycle of annual budget cuts.

Prior to his time at the Denver Public Schools, Michael was widely credited with balancing a historic budget deficit and implementing innovative reforms as Chief of Staff to then-Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. In that role, he also implemented innovative reforms that made city government more responsive to the needs and concerns of the greater Denver community.

Michael's experience saving jobs and turning around failing companies has also served him well in the U.S. Senate. As Managing Director at the Anschutz Investment Company, Michael managed the successful restructuring of more than $3 billion in corporate debt.

Michael earned his bachelor's degree with honors from Wesleyan University and his law degree from Yale Law School, where he was Editor-in-Chief of The Yale Law Journal.

Michael and his wife Susan Daggett, a natural resources lawyer, are the parents of three daughters: Caroline, Halina, and Anne.

Results for Colorado

Since arriving in Washington, Michael has not wasted a moment. In his unrelenting fight to create high-paying jobs for Coloradans and restore fiscal responsibility to Washington, Michael has emerged as an effective leader with a proven record of bringing people together to deliver results for working families.

He was a member of the bipartisan "Gang of 8" -- four Democrats and four Republicans -- that introduced a bill to fix our broken immigration system in a way that boosts the economy, strengthens national security, and provides a tough but fair path to citizenship for millions undocumented immigrants. The Senate passed the bill with overwhelming bipartisan support.

A former businessman, Michael has led the fight in Washington to create jobs, support middle-class families and grow our economy. A champion for small business, Michael led the fight in the Senate to pass a bill that boosted small business investments and provided more than $12 billion in targeted tax relief for Colorado job creators.

Michael believes we must meet the promise each generation has made to the next: to leave more opportunity, not less, to our kids and grandkids. As the father of three young girls, Michael has made reducing the deficits and debt that threaten our economic future a top priority. He has successfully fought to end the big bank bailouts, introduced a bill to rein in spending and ensure Congress lives within its means, and led a bipartisan group of 64 senators calling for a comprehensive plan for deficit reduction.

As a former school superintendent and a member of the Senate Education Committee, Michael is pushing for bold reforms that support great teaching, cut needless red tape and bureaucracy, and incentivize innovative efforts at the state and local level that drive student achievement and help prepare our kids to compete in the new economy.

As Colorado's U.S. Senator, Michael has pushed for investments in clean energy that create jobs and help break our reliance on overseas oil; fought to uphold our commitment to Colorado's veterans and military families; and fought to preserve Colorado's rich agricultural tradition underpinned by our family farmers and ranchers.

In the Senate

Michael is a member of the Senate Committees on Finance; Intelligence; and Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.

  • Senate Committee on Finance

    The Senate Committee on Finance is one of the most established and influential committees in the Senate. Its jurisdiction touches every piece of Colorado's economy, from tax reform to health care to trade. These programs and policies constitute more than half of the federal budget and all of the federal revenue. Michael is a member of the following subcommittees:

    • Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources and Infrastructure, Ranking Member
    • Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight
     
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  • Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

    The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence oversees the intelligence activities and programs of the U.S. government. The Committee provides vigilant oversight to assure that those activities conform to the Constitution and laws of the United States.

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  • Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry

    The Senate Committee on Agriculture has jurisdiction over federal farm policy, including agriculture commodities, marketing, inspection and trade, farm credit and protection, and rural revitalization. Michael is a member of the following subcommittees:

    • Conservation, Forestry and Natural Resources, Ranking Member
    • Jobs, Rural Economic Growth, and Energy Innovation
    • Nutrition, Specialty Crops, Food and Agriculture
     
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  • Congressional Caucuses

    Michael is a member of the following caucuses: 

    • Assisting Caregivers Today Caucus, Co-Chair
    • Olympic and Paralympic Caucus, Co-Chair
    • Outdoor Recreation Caucus
    • Aerospace Caucus
    • Army Caucus
    • India Caucus
    • American Defense Communities Caucus
    • Broadband Caucus
    • Cybersecurity Caucus
    • Ocean Caucus
    • Sportsmen’s Caucus
    • Human Trafficking Caucus
    • Impact Aid Caucus
    • Military Families Caregivers Caucus
    • Foreign Service Caucus 
    • Hispanic Task Force
     
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