Natural Resources and Climate

Keystone Policy Center has a long history of addressing challenges in energy, environmental, and climate issues. Our teams of subject matter and process experts help stakeholders identify innovative solutions to the fundamental challenges of our existing and future environment. For more than 25 years, we have administered the Keystone Energy Board, a longstanding forum for energy sector leaders to learn about and discuss timely issues, examining the linkages among energy, environmental and economic policies. We have also convened tribal and business leaders to discuss how to address legal jurisdictions and governing decisions related to energy development on or adjacent to tribal land. Through these and other initiatives, Keystone designs flexible and adaptive strategies with stakeholders from multiple sectors to facilitate the organizational relationships and political conditions needed to respond to complex energy and environmental problems.

Please also visit our Public Lands page to view our work specific to public lands.

Featured Projects

Keystone Energy Board

The Keystone Energy Board is a long-standing forum for representatives across the energy sector to learn about and discuss current energy issues and examine the linkages among energy, environmental and economic policies.

The Board is comprised of roughly 55 individuals who represent different perspectives on energy policy, including expertise from industry, technology, environment, consumer advocacy, and state and federal government. Learn More

Just Transition in Coal Communities

Market forces, aging infrastructure, and environmental regulations to modernize the electric grid are contributing to the closure of coal plants and mines across the country. The coal industry is often an economic engine for host or adjacent communities, especially in rural or sparsely populated areas, so “just transition” considers and works to mitigate the impact of coal plant or mine closures on workers, communities, and the environment. In the summer of 2019, Keystone partnered with Just Transition Fund to hold a convening for 15 utilities from all over the country to discuss best practices and lessons learned when it comes to the utility role in transitions in coal-dependent communities. Keystone is also providing facilitation, research, and community engagement support for Colorado’s newly formed Just Transition Office, which is charged with supporting workers and communities across the state as their coal plants and mines prepare to close.

Keystone/EC-MAP Partnership

Keystone is partnering with The Energy Consumer-Market Alignment Project (EC-MAP), a Washington, DC-based non-profit seeking to align public policy with a digital energy future. EC-MAP is creating a forum to discuss the application of digital technologies to the energy system and build policy maps for an energy future that drives greater transparency, fair competition, and consumer choice—and where policy enables innovation instead of creating market barriers. The project is the realization of the vision of founder Tom Hassenboehler, a member of the Keystone Energy Board. Learn more

Colorado Water Plan Funding Strategy

Water is critical to the future of Colorado and pressures for how water is managed throughout the state will only increase. Keystone facilitated a diverse set of leaders convened by Gates Family Foundation and Walton Family Foundation to work to identify a viable strategy for securing funding and implementation of the Colorado’s Water Plan. As the group begins implementing its strategy, Keystone is serving as the fiscal sponsor for the broader initiative and has helped guide the group through a successful legislative session that both secured additional general funding for water and tied revenue generated from potentially legalizing sports betting in the state to water projects. The next steps for this effort will include a statewide public awareness campaign about the importance of water to all of Colorado and further work towards a 2020 ballot initiative to fully close the funding gap presented by the water plan.

Colorado Water and Growth Dialogue

By 2040, Colorado is projected to experience an approximately 70 percent increase in population and with it an assumed substantial increase in demand for water by municipalities and industry. In the semi-arid climate of the West with limited water supplies, this increase in demand will result in a well-known and pressing water-supply gap and problem for the future of Colorado. Keystone Policy Center led the Colorado Water and Growth Dialogue in its exploration of whether, and if so to what degree, the integration of water and land use planning can be utilized to reduce water demand from the development and re-development associated with the projected population increase. Learn about the Results of the Dialogue.

Grand Lake Clarity Standard Stakeholder Committee

Grand Lake is Colorado’s largest natural lake, with important recreational and aesthetic values for visitors and residents.  It is also a component of the Colorado-Big Thompson (CBT) project that delivers water and energy to the Eastern Slope. Grand Lake’s clarity is impacted by operations of the CBT system as well as by natural and seasonal factors. The Stakeholder Committee worked together to gain mutual understanding of constraints on attainability and to develop an attainable and protective clarity standard. The proposal resulting from stakeholder efforts was approved by Colorado’s Water Quality Control Commission in 2016.

Snake River Watershed Task Force

The Snake River, which flows through Keystone, CO, is impacted by mining activities that took place at the turn of the 20th century.  Keystone facilitates the Snake River Task Force, a stakeholder group that has worked to characterize the water quality issues in the Snake River basin and identify and implement appropriate mitigation projects.  The Task Force is comprised of Federal, State and local agencies, conservation organizations, and private companies.

Past Projects

Colorado Renewable Energy Standard

Keystone facilitated the Advisory Committee to the Director of the Colorado Energy Office (CEO) on the Effectiveness of SB13-252, the Increase of Colorado’s Renewable Energy Standard so as to Encourage the Deployment of Methane Capture Technologies. This legislation increased the renewable energy standard for electric cooperative utilities from 10 percent to 20, to be accomplished by 2020 and expanded the definition of renewable energy to include coal mine methane and gas produced from municipal solid waste. The Advisory Committee produced a report of key findings and recommendations to the Colorado Energy Office and Governor Hickenlooper.

Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science (ACCCNRS)

Keystone facilitated the Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science (ACCCNRS), which advised the Secretary of the Interior on the operations of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) Climate Science Centers (CSCs).

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

Given the essential role Lake Huron plays in Michigan and beyond, Keystone partnered with the EPA and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to conduct four, one-day regional meetings during Spring 2015 to discuss restoration progress in the lake’s basin. The meetings also allowed community stakeholders and others to present the good work underway to restore the health of the lake and to hear plans for developing the binational Lake Huron Lakewide Action and Management Plan. Keystone’s work resulted in an extensive report outlining current restoration efforts and opportunities for future collaboration.

Planning the Grid of the Future

Investment in our electricity grid has not kept pace with the changes in state and federal policies, rapidly evolving generation and demand-side technologies, or the need for a more resilient electricity delivery system. To confront these issues and lay the groundwork for a better transmission system, the Eastern Interconnection Planning Collaborative launched a groundbreaking stakeholder process to study the eastern U.S. energy resources and transmission system.

The Keystone Policy Center managed this important stakeholder process and public outreach, which spanned a series of eastern states, Canadian provinces, and 24 planning authorities. Keystone’s involvement was essential to helping stakeholders with divergent views and unique regional interests to develop consensus-based recommendations. Learn More

GeoPolicy Connect Event

Keystone partnered with the American Geophysical Union to host its inaugural GeoPolicy Connect event focused on hydraulic fracturing and collaborative strategies to address the use of this method. The event’s conversations focused on better ways to integrate science into public policy making and how collaboration can lead to better outcomes. The event featured speakers ranging from Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper to the Colorado Forum Director Gail Klapper to Christine McEntee, executive director and CEO of the American Geophysical Union.

U.S. Offshore Wind Leadership Summit

Facing the potential and expected growth of offshore wind energy development, the Keystone Policy Center partnered with the University of Delaware’s Special Initiative for Offshore Wind to host the U.S. Offshore Wind Leadership Summit in March 2015. The summit, attended by U.S. offshore wind try leaders and their European counterparts, discussed the challenges and opportunities associated with new offshore wind technologies, growing public and private investments in offshore wind, and other emerging issues.

The Keystone Policy Center’s work was instrumental in helping the University of Delaware’s Special Initiative for Offshore Wind’s team to define the agenda; conduct stakeholder interviews; and facilitate the discussions over the course of the two-day meeting. The summit resulted in a platform of critical, near-term strategic actions that the participants agreed to carry forward.

Dark Skies

The Colorado Plateau and adjoining areas of the American Southwest have some of the most pristine, clear, and accessible skies in the developed world. However, the growing proliferation and use of blue-rich and poorly-filtered LED outdoor lighting threatens our abilities to view night skies for scientific, recreational, and cultural purposes — and disrupts important circadian rhythms of humans and other organisms. Learn More

Landscape Conservation Cooperatives

For more than five years, the Keystone Policy Center has worked to develop and promote a series of Landscape Conservation Cooperatives — management-science partnerships for addressing climate change and other stressors at a landscape scale. These ongoing efforts — part of a nationwide U.S. Department of the Interior initiative involving federal, state, tribal, academic, non-governmental, and private sector stakeholders — help strengthen conservation efforts by providing opportunities to develop, access, and share applied science. They also help leverage funding, information, and technical expertise for applied science projects.

The Keystone Policy Center has helped launch four Landscape Conservation Cooperatives since 2010: the Desert, Southern Rockies, Great Plains, and Gulf Coast Prairie. Keystone’s work has included assisting each establish their steering committees and identify science priorities.

Learn more.

Colorado Oil and Gas Task Force

The growth of Colorado oil and gas development — especially along Colorado’s Front Range — presents challenges for Colorado leaders, residents and businesses alike regarding the tension of developing resources while also reducing impacts for residents and respecting local communities. Following a protracted public policy fight, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper issued an executive order in mid-2014 creating the Colorado Oil and Gas Task Force to find ways to reduce conflicts and suggest ways to improve relationships and propose strategies.

The governor charged the task force, led by the Keystone Policy Center, with finding collaborative ways to balance oil and gas development — one of the most important economic drivers in Colorado — and private mineral right holders’ interests with local residents, public health officials, and conservationists’ concerns.

Learn more

Tenderfoot Task Force

Summit County, Colo., and the U.S. Forest Service asked the Keystone Policy Center to convene a task force to deliberate and negotiate issues brought forth in the public comment period of the Environmental Assessment for the Tenderfoot Mountain Motorcycle Trail System. The 21-member Tenderfoot Task Force represented all stakeholder groups with an interest in the future of Tenderfoot Mountain (see the group’s final recommendations for a complete list). The task force considered:

  • Potential impacts to the environment, wildlife, fisheries and area cultural sites;
  • Potential noise impacts to residents’ property values and quality of life;
  • Concerns with the accuracy of the EA’s use estimates;
  • Concerns with user conflicts and management and development of the trail system; and
  • Concerns with wildfire, and education on, and enforcement of, laws and regulations

The Task Force held seven full-day meetings between March and June 2013 and developed a consensus-based set of final recommendations along with an extensive proactive and adaptive management plan. These were submitted to White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams and will be entered into record as an appendix to the Environmental Assessment.

Moab Master Leasing Plan

Moab is surrounded by some of the most stunning landscapes in Utah and the American Southwest — renowned for their recreation opportunities and potential for oil, gas, and mineral development. In an effort to assess current and future land uses, including energy development, the Bureau of Land Management launched its Moab Master Leasing Plan (MLP) process. The BLM’s planning effort will prepare the MLP, amendments to the Moab and Monticello Resource Management Plans, and an Environmental Impact Statement. The MLP process will provide additional planning and analysis prior to new leasing of oil and gas and potash within the Planning Area. Learn More

South Park Master Leasing Plan

Ahead of the Bureau of Land Management’s South Park Master Leasing Plan (MLP) process, the Keystone Policy Center partnered with the Coalition for the Upper South Platte to host independent workshops regarding the area’s future. The workshops, which convened a diverse group of stakeholders, including ranchers and energy interests, built relationships and trust between the different stakeholders ahead of the planned South Mark MLP. Keystone’s process also created awareness of stakeholder interests and perspectives that may inform leasing decisions on other lands and built knowledge of and access to a common set of data and facts upon which MLP decisions could rely. Learn more

South Park Master Leasing Plan

Ahead of the Bureau of Land Management’s South Park Master Leasing Plan (MLP) process, the Keystone Policy Center partnered with the Coalition for the Upper South Platte to host independent workshops regarding the area’s future. The workshops, which convened a diverse group of stakeholders, including ranchers and energy interests, built relationships and trust between the different stakeholders ahead of the planned South Mark MLP. Keystone’s process also created awareness of stakeholder interests and perspectives that may inform leasing decisions on other lands and built knowledge of and access to a common set of data and facts upon which MLP decisions could rely. Learn more

Mule Deer

Facing declines of mule deer populations across the Centennial State, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife worked with the Keystone Policy Center in 2014 to seek input statewide on strategies to confront this problem. The Keystone Policy Center worked with the state to solicit input from sportsmen, landowners, outfitters, biologists, wildlife managers, other state agencies, federal agencies, local elected officials, and other key stakeholders.

Keystone’s extensive outreach and expertise resulted in two reports, one issued in June 2014 reflecting input from seven public meetings and one issued in August 2014 summarizing feedback from a statewide summit on a draft Mule Deer strategy and laying out seven strategic priorities.

Green Products Roundtable

The complexity of “what makes a product green?” and the proliferation of eco-labels and green product claims has created considerable market confusion and, some would argue, an impasse to further progress toward sustainability. In response, several robust efforts have been underway in recent years, seeking to: (1) build the scientific foundation for greening products, (2) assist manufacturers in measuring and communicating their progress, and (3) engage and train buyers on how to use their purchasing power to realize environmental and public health goals. However, the lack of a central, organizing effort to strategically align these efforts toward mutual goals, and to fill key gaps in tools and guidance, reflected a missing link in truly transforming the market toward a more sustainable economy.

In an effort to confront this problem, the Keystone Policy Center facilitated the Green Products Roundtable, a stakeholder group comprised of approximately 35 members representing different perspectives, including manufacturers, retailers, purchasers, distributers, certifiers, and other experts and thought leaders. The five-year dialogue’s work advanced product sustainability by providing leadership and guidance to improve the decision-making capabilities of product manufacturers, institutional buyers, businesses, and consumers. Keystone played an important incubating role for this initiative, enabling it to gain traction and momentum. In 2012 the Green Products Roundtable launched as an independent entity, the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council, which focuses on guidance and leadership recognition in sustainable procurement.

EPA State Climate and Energy Technical Forum

Working with EPA’s state and local branches, the Keystone Policy Center facilitated a series of monthly forums for state energy, environment, and public utility commission staff to exchange their lessons learned in the implementation of programs and policies that promote clean energy. The State Clean Energy-Environment Technical Forum explored analytical questions and attempts to resolve key issues of state clean energy efforts, such as measuring benefits, implementing policy drivers, collaborating with other state agencies, and directing financing and marketing programs.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Partnership Policy Forum

The EPA CHP Partnership sponsored a monthly webinar forum for industry and utilities on barriers and opportunities to advance clean distributed generation and combined heat and power. The Keystone Policy Center helped plan and facilitate the forum, which provided an opportunity for ongoing dialogue among the private-sector and nonprofit participants to learn about the technical challenges, policy solutions, and resources available in other parts of the country.

Department of Energy/NREL Collaborative Energy Analysis Workshop

The Keystone Policy Center helped plan and facilitate a two-day workshop for state and federal agencies to identify specific energy analysis goals and activities. Workshop participants identified high-priority energy issues for both analysts and decision-makers that should be addressed in the next five to 10 years, and developed work plans (including work groups for implementation) for interagency and industry collaboration for each energy analysis topic:

  • The improvement of deployment partnerships between industry and government
  • Better representation of energy technologies and demand response in energy analysis tools
  • Development of better program impact evaluation tools
  • Development of better policy analysis tools
  • Integration of information at the state and federal levels

Keystone also facilitated a session to explore longer-term energy analysis needs for consideration at future workshops.

Advancing Energy Innovation

The Keystone Policy Center facilitated the Advancing Energy Innovation Regional Dialogues in 2013 based on the recognition that consumers across all end-use sectors are demanding more efficient and reliable energy delivery, greater control over their energy use, better public policies that address extreme weather and its effect on their homes, families, and businesses, and more cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy products and services.

With the collaborative support of advisers across the energy policy and technology spectrum, and with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Advancing Energy Innovation Regional Dialogues fostered discussions on these issues at the state and regional level. Keystone’s work helped participants design collaborative win-win strategies that encourage innovation, productivity, and competition, while ensuring that customer and supplier benefits and risks are appropriately balanced and shared.

Nuclear Power Joint Fact-Finding Dialogue

In an effort to identify trusted experts and information sources who could help answer questions and build a common base of knowledge about the costs, benefits, and risks of nuclear power, the Keystone Policy Center brought together a group of representatives from environmental and consumer advocates, nuclear industry, academics, and state and federal agencies. Throughout 2006, participants worked together to develop and answer important questions that will serve as a constructive foundation for future dialogue about balancing the risks and benefits of nuclear power and alternative technologies in addressing climate change.

Sustainable Financing of Municipal Recycling

The Keystone Policy Center facilitated a national dialogue convened by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2010 to identify options for sustainable financing of recycling of packaging material. Representatives of state and local governments, manufacturers and retailers, and environmental and community-based organizations considered a variety of approaches to funding and managing the nation’s recycling system.

Southeast Sustainable Forestry Negotiation

The Keystone Policy Center facilitated efforts to develop key criteria for identifying endangered forests between Georgia-Pacific LLC, Rainforest Action Network, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Dogwood Alliance. These criteria, developed in 2009, will help Georgia-Pacific identify and map endangered forests in its key supply regions. Keystone also facilitated a dialogue among the parties to identify natural hardwood forests, which became an important building block to Georgia-Pacific’s final definition of natural hardwoods. In addition, Keystone facilitated the selection of independent scientists and their input into both the endangered forest and natural hardwood deliberations.

I-70 Collaborative Process

The Keystone Policy Center helped stakeholders build consensus in 2011 on a recommended preferred alternative for the I-70 corridor from C-470 to Glenwood in order that the Colorado Department of Transportation could complete the I-70 Mountain Corridor Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) and move forward with a record of decision. The Keystone Policy Center convened a stakeholder group that represented all communities and interest groups along the corridor.

Duke Energy Environmental Advisory Meetings

In order to help Duke Energy enhance and strengthen its relationships with external stakeholders, the Keystone Policy Center facilitated a series of advisory meetings for the company from 2008 through 2014. The meetings, attended by representatives from Duke and environmental and energy advocacy organizations, served as a productive forum to both share information and discuss the relevant policy issues faced by all parties.