House Bill 1261
Late last month House Bill 1261 was introduced in order to combat Colorado greenhouse gas emissions. The bill proposes to cut emissions (based on 2005 standards of 123 million tons 1) 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. The bill comes under increased worldwide pressure for better emissions standards in order to reverse the effects of anthropogenic climate change. The bill, if passed, would give the Air Quality Control Commission the ability to create rules and regulations for the state to meet these standards. It would also require more frequent updates of emission levels by the AQCC, from one every 5 years to one every two years. According to Westword writer Chase Woodruff, the new standards would require the state to eliminate 68.5 million tons of emissions by 2030. For comparison, Woodruff writes that the pledge made by Xcel Energy to reduce their emission output 80% by 2030 would only account for around 18 million tons. This means the state would need to find ways to cut an additional 50 million tons by the deadline.
However daunting this may seem, it’s apparent in the bill that the health and well-being of our citizens and our environment is being prioritized. The bill declares that climate change is already affecting Colorado through drought, declining snow-pack, extreme heat, wildfire risk, beetle infestation, severe flooding, and ground level ozone pollution. To quote the authors, “By reducing greenhouse gas pollution, Colorado will also reduce other harmful air pollutants which will, in turn, improve public health, reduce health care costs, improve air quality, and help sustain the environment” (House Bill 19-1261, 2019). If you would like to read the bill under consideration click on the PDF here, or to read a more summarized version and hear a local response to it, read Chase Woodruff’s Westword article, “Colorado Democrats Introduce Landmark Climate Bill”.
1 2005 standards were gathered by the AQCC and published in the 2014 Colorado GHG Inventory Report.