This legislative session was marked by headlines touting a whole host of new proposals and laws ranging from regulations on oil and gas to gun control to a state-run family leave policy. According to Charlie McNeil, CEO of NexGen Resources Corporation and a member of the Common Sense Policy Roundtable Board of Directors, one of the least talked about, most sweeping issues to come out of the 2019 legislative session is the aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Early on, Governor Jared Polis and state lawmakers identified climate change and addressing greenhouse gas emissions as one of his top issues,” said McNeil.
Polis made the issue of climate change a cornerstone of his first State-of-the-State speech and dozens of bills were introduced and debated this session on all aspects of climate change.
In fact, no less than twelve bills addressing the production of greenhouse gas emissions became law this year alone. Perhaps most notable according to McNeil is HB19-1261. The bill sets greenhouse gas pollution reduction targets for 2025, 2030, and 2050, using the year 2005 as a baseline.
“The ultimate outcome of this law depends on the implementation. However, the impacts could affect every industry sector and every Coloradan for years to come. With this new mandate there is no telling how harmful the new changes could be to our shared economic future,” continued McNeil.
HB19-1261, introduced by Speaker of the House KC Becker and State Representative Dominique Jackson and co-sponsored in the Senators Faith Winter and Angela Williams, states that Colorado “shall strive to increase renewable energy generation and eliminate statewide greenhouse gas pollution by the middle of the twenty-first century.”
The primary objective of HB19-1261 is to set new statewide greenhouse gas emission targets, set as a percentage to be reduced from 2005 levels:
These are ambitious targets by any standard. How we reach these targets was not determined by the legislation. Rather, the Air Quality Control Commission, a committee appointed by the Governor, will develop rules and set policy for achieving the targets.
“The mission of Common Sense Policy Roundtable (CSPR) is to research issues that impact the future of the Colorado economy and individual economic opportunity,” continued McNeil. “Given the emphasis on greenhouse gas emissions during the legislative session and the potential impact of this legislation on our economic future, we asked the question, “are those targets within reach?”
CSPR has created a simple calculator for readers to test alternative ways to comply with Colorado’s new greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions targets. Visit https://www.commonsensepolicyroundtable.org/emission-reduction-calculator/ to learn more and give it a try.
The calculator allows users to select or mandate reductions in different industry sectors ranging from coal mining to agriculture to residential and commercial fuel use. The most recent projections estimate that total Greenhouse Gas (GhG) emissions in 2030 will be 15% higher than 2005 levels. According to the new law, that means emissions in 2030 will need to be reduced by 56% from current projections.
While reducing emissions from natural gas and oil systems as well as coal mining are frequently mentioned in the context of political implications and solutions to reduce emissions, CSPR found that completely eliminating emissions from both of these sectors, in addition to reducing Electric Power emissions by 80%, would only reduce emissions levels by 2030 to 71% of 2005 levels.
“Entirely eliminating two industry sectors would destroy our economy and is simply not feasible,” said McNeil. “This underscores the need for lawmakers to tread carefully and consider the full range of impacts as they move toward implementation of this legislation.”
There is no doubt that implementing this new law will have a dramatic impact on our economy and our state. To learn more, visit www.commonsense
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