Clean Air & Climate Change

Colorado has a proud history of leadership on clean energy and working to combat climate change. We know renewable energy supports our economy, protects public health, and puts us on a path towards a resilient climate. Unfortunately, this year we saw several legislative attacks on our clean air that would have slowed our state’s momentum. With election season around the corner, we should keep in mind how our legislators voted on clean air and climate change.

Spotlight: Climate Denial

Despite 97 percent of scientists and a majority of Coloradans agreeing that climate change is real and is human-caused, a handful our state legislators made strong statements denying these facts this year.

For example, Senator John Cooke called man-made climate change a “myth,” Representative Don Coram insisted that it’s “actually cooling in the United States, not warming,” and Senator Kevin Lundberg claimed, “the facts just do not demonstrate” that human actions are causing climate change.

Representative J. Paul Brown also went as far as to suggest that members of the House watch a climate denial film called Climate Hustle, which includes the false premise that excess carbon dioxide is good for plants.

Bills Tracked

PriorityHouse Bill 1405 - State Budget (Long Bill Air Amendment)

Each year the “Long Bill” is introduced, which includes all spending for the state. This bill is prepared by the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) and then debated by the full House and Senate. This year, spending authority for the Colorado Air Quality Control Division’s “Stationary Sources Fund” was blocked during the JBC process by three members of the committee, who were protesting the state’s intent to implement the Clean Power Plan. The Long Bill was introduced without the authority for the state to use this fund, blocking state money from being used to implement about half of all air quality protections and enforcements for Colorado, including salaries for 95 full time employees.The House restored the spending authority, but it was again stripped by the Republican-controlled Senate. Senator Steadman ran an amendment to restore full funding, which failed, but nearly all of the funding was restored during a conference committee. We are scoring the vote on Senator Steadman’s amendment.

Pro-Environment Vote: YES on Amendment No. 2 (J.113) offered by Senator Steadman

Status: Senate Vote: Failed 18-17

House Bill 1004 - Climate Action Plan for Colorado

We were heartened to hear Governor Hickenlooper talk about climate change as a real and imminent threat when his administration unveiled the Colorado Climate Action Plan in the fall of 2015. Unfortunately, the Plan lacked any real goals, actions, or deadlines for reducing pollution. House Bill 1004 would have added measurable greenhouse gas reduction goals and deadlines to the plan, based on the best available science.

Pro-Environment Vote: YES

Bill Sponsors: Representatives Jeni Arndt & Faith Winter, Senator John Kefalas

Status: House Vote: Passed 34-31 | Senate: Died in Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee

House Bill 1441 - PUC Consider Full Cost Carbon For Electricity Generation

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is responsible for regulating electric utilities and determining which resources those utilities use to power Colorado’s grid. The PUC considers many factors when deciding what types of power generation to allow. However, the economic, health, and environmental costs of greenhouse gases are not required to be part of those decisions. HB 1441 would have required the Colorado PUC to consider these costs when deciding on electric resource planning.

Pro-Environment Vote: YES

Bill Sponsors: Representative Max Tyler, Senator Matt Jones

Status: House Vote: Passed 33-32 | Senate: Died in State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee

Senate Bill 61 - Ratepayer Protection From Clean Power Plan Costs

This bill was one of several attacks on Colorado’s efforts to curb climate change and implement pollution reduction goals under the Clean Power Plan. The bill would have added bureaucracy and costs to Colorado’s efforts under the guise of saving ratepayers money. Thanks to Colorado’s early action towards renewable energy, our state is already on the path to reaching our Clean Power Plan goals. However, this bill would have stripped the incentives for utilities to curb costs and left ratepayers at risk.

Pro-Environment Vote: NO

Bill Sponsors: Senators John Cooke & Jerry Sonnenberg, Representative Tim Dore

Status: Senate Vote: Passed 18-17 | House: Died in House Transportation & Energy Committee

Senate Bill 157 - Clean Power Plan Delay

The Clean Power Plan has been temporarily delayed in Federal Court, and while the litigation plays out Colorado is continuing to work on a plan to reduce carbon to submit to the EPA when the legal wrangling ends. Senate Bill 157 would have halted Colorado’s progress and left our compliance plan vulnerable to invalidation while creating uncertainty and needless costs.

Pro-Environment Vote: NO

Bill Sponsors: Senators John Cooke & Jerry Sonnenberg, Representative Tim Dore

Status: Senate Vote: Passed 18-17 | House: Died in Transportation & Energy Committee

Conservation Colorado
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