Governor Jared Polis (D-CO) ran and won on a platform of 100% renewables and climate action. However, his recent threat to veto SB21-200: Reduce Greenhouse Gases Increase Environmental Justice, calls into question where Polis’s allegiances truly lie.
SB21-200 would require the Colorado Air Quality Commission to move more quickly toward putting rules in place to meet Colorado’s GHG emissions reduction goals. In 2019, the Colorado legislature passed and the governor signed HB-1261, which aimed to cut the state’s greenhouse gases by 26% by 2025, 50% by 2030, and 90% by 2050. This bill directed the Air Quality Control Commission to develop rules to decrease emissions coming from electric utilities, oil and gas production, transportation, and buildings.
Unfortunately, we are not on track to meet our emissions reduction goals. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, if we do not modify our current emissions rates we will fall short to the tune of 14-25 million metric tons. The AQCC missed its first deadline last July, and the ‘Roadmap’ finally released in January is lacking in enforceable measures.
That is why it is not only shocking but absolutely unacceptable that our Governor should threaten to veto SB21-200, legislation that would help ensure that Colorado does its part to address the climate crisis by meeting its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction goals for 2025 and 2030.
SB-200 places caps on emissions by sector and sets clear deadlines for implementation, and imposes a fee on CO2 and methane which will help to fund an office of environmental justice that will consult with disproportionately impacted communities adversely impacted by fossil fuel development in our state.
Polis takes issue with “dictatorial authority over our economy to one unelected board,” namely the Air Quality Control Commission. However, the AQCC was given rulemaking authority concerning GHGs in HB-1261. Furthermore, commissioners are appointed by the Governor himself, approved by the State Senate, and the rulemaking process is open to all state residents.
Does the Governor really want meaningful climate solutions or is he more beholden to the utilities and oil and gas industry who oppose the bill? Does Polis want to get re-elected? If so, he should not obstruct the passage of legislation that will ensure we meet our climate targets, including ones he himself helped to pass.
Deborah McNamara is the Campaign Director for 350 Colorado, a non-profit focused on climate change solutions.