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Coalition Delivers Message to Governor that Colorado Needs Bold Climate Action
The Colorado Air Commission discussed the state’s path toward meeting climate goals set by HB 19-1261, which was signed into law last year. The law sets goals of reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions 26% by 2025, 50% by 2030, and 90% by 2050.
Unfortunately, a report released this week shows that Colorado is off course to meet statewide climate goals by a wide margin, threatening the health and safety of millions of residents.
An unprecedented coalition of nonprofit organizations submitted a joint letter to the Air Commission today demanding that the Polis Administration take steps immediately to reduce emissions. The groups gathered for a press conference ahead of the hearing to make group statements calling for action commensurate with the climate crisis and in line with state law.
Representatives of dozens of organizations and impacted community members wearing clock costumes, holding “Out Of Time” clock signs and a “Mind the Emissions Gap” banner, spoke at the press conference and then delivered the joint group letter and gave passionate testimony to the Commission.
By law, the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission is required to propose rules to meet the targets set by HB-1261 by July 1, 2020. Unfortunately, the state is not on track to propose effective rules by that date.
Taking into account current climate policies on the books, the state has 30 million metric tons of carbon emissions reductions to go to hit required 2025 target and 46 million metric tons to go to hit the 2030 target (for reference, the Air Quality Control Commission’s recently-passed low and zero emissions vehicle standards will achieve an estimated 2.7 million metric tons of reductions). Even with high-ambition assumptions for a number of future strategies, including retiring every coal plant in Colorado and replacing it with 100% renewable energy by 2030, Colorado would still have a gap of 25 million metric tons.
The organizations said in the joint letter “We are united in our commitment to meeting or exceeding the emissions goals and that the Air Quality Control Commission must take immediate, urgent action to put Colorado on track to meet these goals. We have a critical window of opportunity to make climate progress in Colorado a reality.”
Quotes from Coalition Members:
“With the passage of SB 182 and HB 1261, the AQCC now has the ability and mandate to protect Coloradans, especially our most vulnerable residents, from the effects of the current climate emergency. We must move as quickly as possible towards clean energy and clean air to mitigate the increasing damage that is being done to our planet and to our health.” — Brian Highland, Clean Energy Action
“At Protect Our Winters, we work to protect the places and lifestyles passionate outdoor people love from the impacts of climate change. The outdoor community inherently understands setting goals and working to realize the improbable. We applaud Governor Polis for working with the legislature to set strong climate goals here in Colorado. But, we have only made it to the beginning: to the trailhead. Now it is time to climb the mountain and achieve the emissions reductions goals we set last year.” — Lindsay Bourgoine, Director of Policy and Advocacy for Protect Our Winters
“Climate crisis is real, ALL children deserve a future. This is NOT just a white, brown or black issue, it’s a worldwide issue. Colorado has the opportunity to LEAD the way for the rest of the nation, and become a positive example, or the perfect model to the rest of the global village.” — Lucy Molina, Commerce City resident
“No matter what misleading terms or pastoral images the industry uses to try to greenwash fracking, their short-term profits only increase the long-term environmental debt that we will all bear. The tools available to us at the municipal level–and, frankly, the financial resources to defend any actions we might take–are inadequate to force the changes that need to be made. We need help. We need the Air Commission to take action quickly to pump the brakes on the industry’s rapidly expanding operations across Colorado, venting waste gases and toxic chemicals as they go in order for us to meet the greenhouse gas goals of HB19-1261.” — Erika Deakin, mom living in Erie, Mothers Out Front
“According to the 2019 Colorado GHG Inventory Update, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and other fluorinated gases will constitute less than 1% of all GHG emissions this year. In order to start making real progress toward the goal of 26% GHG reductions by 2025 compared to 2005 levels, the State needs to move aggressively to limit the emissions of all significant GHGs, specifically carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, in addition to fluorinated gases.” — Kevin Cross, Spokesperson, Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate (CCLC is comprised of 33 member organizations across Colorado.)
“It’s clear that we need to step up climate action more than ever here in Colorado. It’s not enough to nip around the edges, we need bold action that fully transitions our state away from coal and oil and gas, that stops permitting new fracking, and that leads the way to a complete shift from dependence on fossil fuels.” — Jeremy Nichols, Climate and Energy Program Director, WildEarth Guardians
“Strategic sabotaging of electrical-based energy production and development since the dawn of the industrial age by those whose interests were deeply rooted in petroleum and greed has placed us all in the precarious environmental circumstances we now find ourselves in today. As a result, we must take bold action to remedy the repercussions of those misguided actions now, before it’s too late. We are depending on the CDPHE to do just that.” — Kristi Douglas, Commerce City resident
“Failure to protect our only home and our children’s futures is not an option. So we call on Governor Polis and the AQCC to first take immediate action to properly assess the actual greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector via flyovers and continuous monitoring, considering that research indicates that methane emissions are likely 2-4 times higher than our inventory estimates. Then the Polis administration must take aggressive action to cut emissions from all sources to meet and exceed the goals in HB1261, which will require a rapid phaseout of coal, oil and gas development, as we electrify buildings and fleets and transition to more affordable and abundant local renewable energy.” — Micah Parkin, Executive Director of 350 Colorado
“The Polis Administration has had nearly a year to develop a cogent plan to protect the people and the environment of this state from fracking. It has done nothing of real substance. That must change. The state has received roughly $1000 million in severance taxes in each of the last few years. Some of that money must be allocated now to get real data that will help explain our deteriorating air quality and its impacts on the people. The time is past for more excuses. The time for real, sincere action is now.” — Phil Doe, Be the Change
“Growing up in Colorado, I never thought that the air could get more disgusting than 1970s Brown Cloud Denver. Sadly, the second decade of the 21st Century, under a democratic governor, has shown that a race to the air quality bottom still exists.” — Joe Salazar, Executive Director, Colorado Rising
“This is an emergency and we need to start acting like it. We should enact legally-binding policies to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025. The state’s emissions targets are already insufficient and we aren’t even on track to meet them. We demand stronger leadership and immediate action.” — Michael Denslow, Extinction Rebellion
“This administration and our elected officials have undertaken critically important policies to reduce carbon pollution, but it’s clear that our work is only beginning. The sad truth is that our state is not yet on track to meet our science-based targets and nationally leading climate action means hitting the targets. If we’re going to leave a better world for our kids and protect our Colorado way of life for future generations, the Air Quality Control Commission must act boldly — and soon.” — Kelly Nordini, Executive Director, Conservation Colorado
“Regardless of the accuracy of Colorado’s greenhouse gas inventory we know for certain that we are on the brink of climate catastrophe. We know that those volatile organic compounds that accompany our methane emissions lead to our poor air quality and that our children in particular suffer unnecessarily from asthma and respiratory distress. We know that the VOCs emitted in our state contribute to cancers, birth defects, and effect kidneys, liver and lungs. We support and urge the Air Quality Control Commission to take the bold and necessary steps to meet and exceed our GHG reduction goals.” — Barbara Donachy, MPH, Physicians for Social Responsibility – Colorado