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Colorado carbon emissions bill clears Senate committee

Democratic Rep. Karen McCormick said many Longmont residents have expressed support for the bill, but say it doesn’t go far enough.
Gov. Jared Polis speaks at the 2023 Legislative Breakfast, in which lawmakers discussed how the state can take action to reduce carbon emissions.

A comprehensive greenhouse gas emission reduction bill cleared Colorado’s Transportation and Energy Senate Committee on Thursday and now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee. 

The bill, which is sponsored by Denver Democratic Sen. Chris Hansen, aims to eliminate all carbon emissions in our state by 2050, starting with 65% by 2035. Colorado’s current goal is 90% by 2050.

Democratic Rep. Karen McCormick, who represents Longmont in the Colorado General Assembly, is one of the bill’s co-sponsors. She said many of her constituents support the climate change bill, but say it doesn’t go far enough.

“The emails that I’ve seen have been around that ‘this is great, but, you know, we’re disappointed that you didn’t up those reduction targets and make them even stiffer — sooner,” McCormick said. 

“But this is in coordination with statewide transportation goals, and agriculture goals … you can’t just set a target in thin air and hope that we can reach it — we kind of have to have the data and the plan to back up how we are going to get there,” she explained. “Right now, these (goals) are doable — they are realistic, and we don’t want to overpromise and underdeliver; we’d rather underpromise and overdeliver.”

Some of the bills other measures include:

  • A retailer tax credit for electric landscaping and snow-clearing equipment, which sellers could use to offer purchasers 30% off.
  • Local governments would be required to expedite their reviews of projects that would speed up the renovation or optimization of electrical lines.
  • Wastewater thermal energy would be added to the definition of “pollution control equipment,” so it can be certified by state public health officials. The wastewater thermal energy would also be added to the “clean heat resource” definition, which gas distribution facilities use in their clean heat plans filed with the Public Utilities Commission. Wastewater pipes can be used to heat clean water pipes that circulate throughout buildings to regulate their temperatures.
  • Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association would be required to implement voting procedures that support the state’s greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.
  • Insurance providers would be required, starting in 2024, to complete an Insurer Climate Risk Disclosure Survey if they are conducting more than $100 million in business.

“Sometimes it just takes a lot of little approaches to reach these bigger goals — and that’s kind of the purpose behind the bill,” McCormick said.

Critics of the bill say the goal of eliminating all of Colorado’s carbon emissions by 2050 would harm some businesses in the state. The Leader reached out to the American Petroleum Institute, which is the country’s largest oil and natural gas industry trade association, but its Denver office declined to comment on the bill.

“The goal is not to hurt business or suppress economic development … but to open up opportunities in growth areas,” McCormick said. 

“It’s really to thread that needle in how we can be good stewards of our land, water and air — and our economy — and move forward.”

Amber Fisher

About the Author: Amber Fisher

I'm thrilled to be an assistant editor with the Longmont Leader after spending the past decade reporting for news outlets across North America. When I'm not writing, you can find me snowboarding, reading fiction and running (poorly).
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