Colorado Senate Plays Politics with Clean Air; Up to the House Protect Colorado's Environment

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First the bad news: SB 258 passed the Colorado Senate. This bill would undermine the well-established process that has provided certainty to Colorado businesses for decades, replacing that process with political theater, and putting the state's ability to determine its own energy future at risk.

Now the good news: Colorado's House of Representatives can end the political game and let the state get back to work building clean energy and reducing the pollution that causes so much harm for so many families in Colorado.

(Image credit: Aerial view of the National WindTechnology Center)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a draft of the Clean Power Plan last summer. In this plan for the first time ever America will be able to limit the carbon pollution spewing from power plants - the proposed rule gets finalized this summer. States, like Colorado, lobbied EPA for the need for flexibility in developing state plans to comply with the new rule, and the EPA's proposal does just that -- essentially leaving entirely up to each individual state how it would require industry to reduce carbon pollution over time.

But unfortunately that hasn't stopped big polluters and their front group, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) from trying to jam things up and waste tax-payers money by introducing unnecessary legislation in statehouses across the country attacking the Clean Power Plan. The irony is that much of that legislation, including SB 258, strips away states' rights - namely making it harder for the state to develop its own compliance plan, and therefore handing authority for doing so over to the federal government (the Supreme Court has already ruled that the EPA must put a limit on the carbon pollution coming from power plants).

SB 258 would unwisely take authority away from the scientists and technical experts at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and give the politicians veto power. Leaving the ultimate approval of a technical state implementation plan in the hands of a divided legislature would unnecessarily politicize the issue, add bureaucratic delay and create uncertainty for all stakeholders.

The current process for establishing Colorado's plan to limit climate-changing carbon pollution from power plants is not only completely transparent with ample input from the public - it is clearly a mistake and waste of tax payers' money to add a legislative review process that would allow only one chamber of the legislature to veto this important standard.

The Clean Power Plan can boost Colorado's economy and create jobs through new investments in critical clean energy infrastructure and energy efficiency technologies, while saving money for consumers and businesses. The funds saved through energy efficiency can be used for spending on local goods and services while helping to boost businesses' bottom lines. Colorado has plenty of clean energy opportunities and clean energy is good Colorado's environment and economy, including vulnerable communities.

Because of forward thinking policies Colorado is already well on its way to cutting carbon pollution.

This legislation is not about protecting electricity consumers, but rather about playing politics with the dire need to address the economic and environmental threat of climate change. It is a dangerous game, and the House needs to end it.