by Anastasia Furnari

As the climate crisis continues to intensify, nationwide climate-action legislation has yet to keep up. The majority of scientists estimate that to limit the worst, most intense effects of global warming, greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) must be reduced by a minimum of 26% within the next four years, and by around 80% by 2030. The IPCC released these reduction estimates over two years ago, and we can not afford to delay climate action any longer. 

Signed into law in the Spring of 2019, Colorado’s ‘Climate Action Plan to Reduce Pollution’ (HB19-1261/SB-096) aims to cut back greenhouse gas emissions in Colorado per scientists’ estimates. The state is responsible for drafting and implementing regulations that are then considered and approved by the Air Quality Control Commission. But the state has declined to draft more than 97% of such implementing regulations, which has led to citizens’ lawsuits against the Polis Administration.  Both the Polis and Trump Administrations also stockpiled oil and gas permits: over 3,000 permits in the first 18 months of the Polis Administration, during the delay in implementing the mission change required by SB181 in early 2019, and approximately 4,500 permits throughout the course of the Trump Administration.  

Despite pledging to be carbon-free by 2050, Xcel Energy, the biggest electric utility in Colorado, has not taken appropriate action to meet this goal. Instead, the largest lobbyist and largest GHG emitter in the state has its exception in HB-1261, enabling Xcel to put off coal plant closures until late in the decade rather than help meet the 2025 state GHG reductions like all of the other sectors in the state.  Even then, Xcel Energy remains the only Colorado utility that plans to burn any coal past 2030. It has pledged to retire only half of its coal plants by the end of the decade. As the price of renewables continues to fall, and the costs of climate change add up, coal is no longer a cost-effective, safe, affordable, or reliable option. 

As the globe begins to feel the irreversible effects of a changing climate, it is neither appropriate nor acceptable for lawmakers to prioritize oil and gas development over the health of our communities and our environment. With state-wide public pressure, we can make our expectations known. Coloradans want real commitments to a just, equitable transition to 100% clean energy, and you can be a part of that movement.

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