Colorado Climate Compromise Passes In The Final Days Of The State Legislative


In the end, the lawmakers agreed to drop the legislation and add many of its components to another environmental justice bill. That measure, known as HB21-1266, had previously sought to define a “disportionately impacted community” and include those communities in the policy-making process. 

A massive amendment expanded the scope of the bill. It added plans to hire an environmental justice ombudsperson within the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment. In addition, it calls for a task force to write a plan to promote environmental justice throughout the state by November 2022. 

The revised legislation also includes plans to reign in greenhouse gas pollution. Democratic state Sen. Faith Winter, a lead bill sponsor, said the original bill would have required air regulators to lead an economy-wide effort to reduce emissions. Under the compromise, only power plants, oil and gas operations and factories would face new rules to meet specific emissions targets. 

State Sen. Faith Winter at the Capitol on Tuesday, March 16, 2021.

“We’re doing enforceability in three of those sectors,” Winter said in a committee hearing Monday. 

In the compromise, Winter said lawmakers agreed to drop the same enforcement efforts for the transportation and buildings sector. 

Will Toor, the head of the Colorado Energy Office and the governor’s point-person on climate, said other legislation seeks to reduce emissions from those parts of Colorado’s economy. That includes a $5 billion transportation package to expand roads and invest in electric cars and buses. Additional legislation requires large buildings to report annual energy use and encourages a switch from natural gas to electric heat, which can take full advantage of renewable energy. 

“The net result of all of these bills and HB-1266 is a comprehensive strategy for achieving our climate goals,” Toor said. 

In the same Senate committee hearing, Toor said the final deal limits the possibility of a cap-and-trade program. Some states, like California, have set up systems to put a declining cap on total emissions and allow companies to trade allowances to pollute. Polis has long opposed any similar policy in Colorado. 

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