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Lawsuit Aims to Get Colorado Back on Track to Meet Climate Goals

July 11, 2020
Jeremy Nichols, WildEarth Guardians, (303) 437-7663, jnichols@wildearthguardians.org
In This Release
Climate + Energy  
#JustTransition, #KeepItInTheGround
Denver—WildEarth Guardians today filed suit to get Colorado back on target to meet key greenhouse gas reduction goals, ensure environmental justice, and achieve climate action.

“While Governor Polis has committed Colorado to meaningful climate action, it’s critical to ensure we actually meet the goals needed to effectively protect the state,” said Jeremy Nichols, Climate and Energy Program Director for WildEarth Guardians.  “With a missed deadline and reports confirming the state is still not on track to meet key greenhouse gas reduction targets, it really is time for the Governor to step it up and ensure real climate progress for Colorado.”

Filed in state court in Denver, the lawsuit targets the failure of Governor Jared Polis and his administration to meet a July 1, 2020 deadline to propose new regulations to meet critical greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The suit calls on Governor Polis and his administration to put climate action into high gear, both to meet the state’s legal deadlines and ensure Colorado gets back on track to confront the climate crisis.

Citing the devastating impacts of the climate crisis to Colorado’s health, environment, and economy, in 2019 the Legislature passed and Governor Polis signed into law the state’s first comprehensive law to curb statewide climate pollution.

House Bill 19-1261 committed the state to reducing greenhouse gases 26% by 2025, 50% by 2030, and 90% by 2050.  It further directed that greenhouse gas reduction efforts be prioritized where people of color, low income neighborhoods, and Tribal communities are disproportionately impacted by sources of climate pollution.

A companion bill signed into law by Governor Polis, Senate Bill 19-096, required the state to propose regulations meeting the reduction targets under House Bill 19-1261 by July 1, 2020.

Since House Bill 19-1261 was enacted, the Polis administration has taken some steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In the past year, Colorado adopted the state’s first-ever zero emission vehicle standards, increased methane controls within the oil and gas production sector, and set standards to reduce hydrofluorocarbon, or HFC, emissions.

Unfortunately, reports show the state is nowhere near on track to meet the 2025 or 2030 emission reduction goals. Compounding the lack of progress is that greenhouse gas reduction efforts have yet to focus on protecting people and communities disproportionately impacted by sources of climate pollution.

“Colorado has taken some steps forward, but the path ahead requires much greater strides be taken,” said Nichols.  “Governor Jared Polis has made bold commitments to protect Coloradans, now it’s time for him to follow through with bold actions to ensure the state effectively curtails climate pollution, achieves climate justice, and advances a just transition from fossil fuels.”

Meeting the state’s greenhouse gas reduction targets will require a combination of strategies, including:

  • Immediately suspending the approval of air pollution permits for new sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Retiring the state’s largest sources of climate pollution, particularly sources located in low income neighborhoods and communities of color, as quickly as possible.
  • Achieving 100% renewable electricity generation by 2030.
  • Winding down and ultimately phasing out fracking in the state by 2025.

“We recognize that confronting the climate crisis is requires transformative policies that transition the state’s transportation system, buildings, and electricity generation away from fossil fuels,” said Nichols.  “This is an enormous challenge, but it’s a challenge we urgently have to meet.”

WildEarth Guardians lawsuit is likely to be ruled on within six to nine months.