By Jan Rose, CCLC Spokesperson and Legislative Maven

Posted on June 16th 2021

Without question, this has been the most consequential session of the General Assembly for climate change legislation in history, with 53 bills introduced!  Nearly all the bills we supported passed, and the vast majority of bills we opposed failed.

There were 628 bills introduced this session and 502 of them were sent to the Governor’s desk. That’s a truly historic level of productivity and each and every legislator deserves our thanks and our respect for managing such an enormous agenda in a mere 116 days.

Now, turning to climate legislation, following is the summary of legislation for the entire session.  Bills that passed are presented first and organized by category, and bills that failed are presented at the end for your information.  Bullets are provided to note content and amendments as warranted but are by no means the definitive explanation of the contents of any given bill.

The river that runs through it is the consistent use of the social costs of pollution in climate legislation, be they CO2, carbon-equivalent (CO2e), methane, or GHGs in general.  Those inclusions are historic achievements for our state and our nation, and set Colorado on a course to teach the whole country a thing or two about managing climate change. Additionally, this was the year we tackled emissions from the Built Environment (buildings) with millions of dollars dedicated to weatherization and conversion from natural gas as the consumer chooses, as well as performance standards for large buildings and the implementation of distributed solar generation.

But, as we all know, ’It’s all about the Benjamins’ and we can’t tell you how disappointing it is that the results of climate change received far more funding than addressing the CAUSE of climate change!  Wildfire mitigation alone got more than FIVE TIMES the amount that climate change adaptation and mitigation received and we had historic levels of funds available this year—as if a money tree shook off all its leaves and then died before we could fertilize it.  The state had an historic $34B budget, $800M in one-time money that must be spent, and $3.8B from the feds, and all we got was this lousy ‘keep it in the ground’ t-shirt.

Nonetheless, there is a smorgasbord—a veritable feast—of climate legislation we got through the House and Senate this year, so we present to you all, this year’s SUMMARY OF CLIMATE LEGISLATION

Note that bill names appended by !!! Indicate bills endorsed by CCLC.

2021 Climate/Energy/Environmental legislation


SB21-272 | Measures To Modernize The Public Utilities Commission !!! | Concerning the operations of the public utilities commission, and, in connection therewith, modernizing the commission’s statutory directives regarding distributed generation of electricity

  • Provides access to outside experts while limiting conflicts of interest
    • Requires rules for retiring RECs
    • Amended out the ability to establish community solar net metering credits
    • Requires resource plans to include social cost of carbon and CO2e in net present value of revenue requirements

 SB21-261 | Public Utilities Commission Encourage Renewable Energy Generation !!! | Concerning measures to increase the deployment of renewable energy generation facilities to meet Colorado’s energy needs, and, in connection therewith, raising the allowable capacity of customer-sited renewable energy generation facilities from 120% of historic usage to 200%, and giving customers additional options for increasing the scale and flexibility of new installations.

  • Includes master meter operators allowing resale of solar energy on- or off-site
    • Enables multi-family/tenant buildings to share in solar roofs
    • Requires new installs to be GHGs emissions neutral
    • Allows for donations of excess solar produced (eg to LIHEAP)
    • Requires annual offers to install net meters for solar installations
    • Amended to include up to 10MW existing biomass as GHG neutral
    • Amends for max size of 500KW; off site no more than 200KW

SB21-264 | Adopt Programs Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions Utilities !!! | Concerning the adoption of programs by gas utilities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Was SB21-161 that Chris Hansen killed to reintroduce this version

  • Became a ‘strike below’ (delete everything but the title and rewrite the bill) AGAIN as Amendment L002
    • The R Co-Sponsor voted against his own bill in committee (cue to L002) and removed himself from the bill on the Senate Floor before final vote.
    • Encourages methane capture from coal mines, landfills, dairy farms, biomass
    • Includes both green (100% clean power sources) and blue (created using fracked gas for power) hydrogen projects and allows mixing of captured methane with extracted methane.
    • Creates Clean Heat Plans that will reduce methane GHGs by 7.5% by 2025 from 2015 levels, of which 1% must be recovered methane, and 22% by 2030 of which 5% must be recovered methane
      • Amended to reduce 7.5% to 6%, 1% to 2%, and 5% to 6%
      • Muni utilities are given more time and drop their reductions to 4% of which 1% recovered by 2030; and small utilities don’t have to meet the percentage reductions but do have to file a Clean Heat Plan
      • Allows fixed leaks from wholesalers, retailers, pipelines and transportation, and consumer combustion to qualify for the ‘recovered methane’ criteria,
      • Allows DSM and BE (Beneficial Electrification) plans to qualify as methane reductions under the Clean Heat Plan
    • Applies to any utility with 90K customers
    • Requires social cost of carbon and social cost of methane except that methane must be calculated on a 100-year scale
    • Can’t raise the ratepayers gas bill by more than 2.5%

HB21-1269 | Public Utilities Commission Study Of Community Choice Energy  !!! | Concerning an investigation by the public utilities commission to evaluate the parameters of an energy policy allowing communities in Colorado that are served by an investor-owned electric utility to choose alternative wholesale electricity suppliers.

  • Added amendments for union labor and DI Communities

 SB21-072 | Public Utilities Commission Modernize Electric Transmission Infrastructure !!! | …creating the Colorado electric transmission authority, requiring transmission utilities to join regional transmission organizations, and allowing additional classes of transmission utilities to obtain revenue through the colocation of broadband facilities within their existing rights-of-way.

  • Amendment L002 defines the makeup of CETA and bonding for its projects.
    • Establishes labor standards and the role of local governments in land use decisions, includes environmental protections,
    • Revised the response time of the PUC from 180 days to 240 days (thanks to Leslie G!)
    • Clarify that CETA cannot be used to delay or avoid Clean Energy Plans
    • Amendment L033 allows for collection of up to 35% Net Present Value Savings for the first 2 years, 25% in year 3 and 20% in years 4 and 5

HB21-1324 | Promote Innovative And Clean Energy Technologies | Concerning measures to facilitate the use of innovative energy technologies by investor-owned utilities in Colorado, and, in connection therewith, authorizing the public utilities commission to review and approve investor-owned utilities’ applications for low-emission innovative energy technologies based on meeting specified criteria.

  • Allows projects that never go into effect and projects that are knowingly not cost-effective to be charged to ratepayers
    • Prevents any solar/wind/L-ion battery projects from being used
    • Specifies only zero-emissions technologies may be used
    • Allow cost recovery via Clean Energy Plan Rider but limits cost recovery to maximum achievable by a solar or wind facility
    • Includes provision for encouragement of site location in an area affected by energy generation transition (eg coal plant retirement)

SB21-108 | PUC Gas Utility Safety Inspection Authority !!! | Concerning gas pipeline safety, and, in connection therewith, increasing and clarifying the rule-making and enforcement authority of the public utilities commission.

  • Defines a fee/fine structure large enough ($200K/day) to add up to 20 more inspectors for our gas gathering and transmission pipelines

GHGs Pollution

 SB21-260 | Sustainability Of The Transportation System | Concerning the sustainability of the transportation system in Colorado, and, in connection therewith, creating new sources of dedicated funding and new state enterprises to preserve, improve, and expand existing transportation infrastructure, develop the modernized infrastructure needed to support the widespread adoption of electric motor vehicles, and mitigate environmental and health impacts of transportation system use; and expanding authority for regional transportation improvements.

  • 128 Amendments!
    • Roughly 80% is for ‘roads and bridges’ and 20% is for EVs and charging
      • 4 new clean transportation Enterprises: Clean Fleet (in CDPHE), Clean Transit (in DOT), Non-Attainment Area (in DOT), and Community Access (In CEO)
    • Establishes social cost of GHGs as a pollutant and sets up fees and reporting using a discount rate of 2.5% or the federal standard, whichever is higher
    • Adds fees for ride shares (unless the vehicle is an EV), gig delivery, Amazon/UPS/etc, which will fund charging stations, e-bikes and scooters, electric buses etc.
    • sets aside compensatory funding for DI Communities and low income households
    • Sets up a multi-modal and impacts mitigation fund within DOT’s Revitalizing Main Streets program
    • 2.5c/gallon fee on gas increasing annually to 8c. In lieu of gas fees, EV users changed $50/year upon registration renewal
      • And EVs pay a road usage equalization fee of $4/yr rising to $96 in 2031 (hybrids pay less since they also buy gas)
      • $182M to state highway fund
        • $22M of which is for multi-modal Revitalizing Main Streets program and
        • $10M/year must be spent to mitigate increased air pollution in non-attainment area amended in L081 to reduce to $5M
      • $161M to Mult-modal fund
      • $36M to highway users
    • Trucks pay additional annual registration fee; the bigger the truck the higher the fee (from $50-$150)
    • Amendment L072 adds Particulate Matter monitoring in DI Communities and a requirement to review alternative transit methods before considering lane widening (this includes the planned I-270 widening)
    • L064 includes provision for hydrogen fuel cell charging, not just battery charging
    • L086 specifies special attention to DI Communities
      • L115 creates the Environmental Justice and Equity Branch in Construction Dept of DOT and requires them to work with DICs on traffic expansion
    • L122 adds CNG vehicles to clean fleet if 90% of CNG is from recovered methane

HB21-1290 | Additional Funding For Just Transition | Concerning $15M funding to provide just transition for coal transition workers and coal transition communities.

HB21-1189 | Regulate Air Toxics !!! | Concerning additional public health protections in relation to the emission of air toxics.

  • HAPs (Hazardous Air Pollutants) defined by quantity removed from the bill and replaced with types of facilities.
    • Includes community monitoring (not just fenceline) via CDPHE mobile van

SB21-238 | Create Front Range Passenger Rail District | Concerning the front range passenger rail district, and, in connection therewith, creating the district, which is from NM to WY and includes connections to Amtrak and the Winter Park Express Train, as well as Northwest Rail Line Corridor with RTD

HB21-1230 | Create User-friendly State Internet Rules Portal | Concerning creation of a user-friendly state internet portal relating to state agency rules.

HB21-1247 | Colorado Department Of Public Health And Environment Contract Pay To Grantees Up Front | Concerning allowing the department of public health and environment to award a percentage of the total value of an annual contract to a grantee of a grant program of the department upon the execution or renewal of the annual contract.

HB21-1322 | Gasoline And Special Fuel Tax Restructuring | Concerning the restructuring of the gasoline and special fuel tax.

SB21-281 | State Severance Tax Trust Fund Allocation | Concerning severance tax revenue.

Built Environment

HB21-1238 | Public Utilities Commission Modernize Gas Utility Demand-side Management Standards !!! | Concerning the modernization of gas energy efficiency programs.

  • Amended to remove disincentives to conversion via rate changes
    • Labor friendly amendment
    • Includes social cost of carbon AND social cost of methane (based on federal std)
    • Specifies mandatory funding for low income and DICs
    • Includes insulation, weatherization, conservation, load Mgmt (demand response), and conversion from gas appliances

SB21-246 | Electric Utility Promote Beneficial Electrification  !!! | Concerning measures to encourage beneficial electrification, and, in connection therewith, directing the public utilities commission and Colorado utilities to promote compliance with current environmental and labor standards.

  • Complements 1238 above
    • Requires PUC to define targets for DSM and methane reductions
    • Outlines cost-recovery options and performance incentives

HB21-1284 | Limit Fee Install Active Solar Energy System | Concerning modifications to the limitation on the aggregate amount of fees—max $500 for residential and $1K for commercial—that may be assessed by governmental bodies for the installation of active solar energy systems.

HB21-1286 | Energy Performance For Buildings  !!! | Concerning measures to improve energy efficiency, and, in connection therewith, requiring owners of large buildings to collect and report on energy-use benchmarking data and comply with performance standards related to energy and greenhouse gas emissions and modifying statutory requirements regarding energy performance contracts.

  • Limited to buildings in excess of 20K sq ft which is presently approx 3,000 buildings
    • Must demonstrate compliance with performance standards every 5 years

SB21-230 | Transfer To Colorado Energy Office Energy Fund | Concerning a transfer of $40M from the general fund to the energy fund to finance programs of the Colorado Energy Office

SB21-231 | Energy Office Weatherization Assistance Grants | Concerning a transfer of $3M from the general fund to the energy fund to finance the weatherization assistance program of the Colorado Energy Office.

HB21-1253 | Renewable And Clean Energy Project Grants | Concerning a general fund transfer of $5M to the local government severance tax fund to fund grants to local governments for renewable and clean energy infrastructure projects

HB21-1303 | Global Warming Potential For Public Project Materials | Concerning measures to limit the global warming potential for certain materials used in public projects.

  • Concrete and asphalt are 14% of the total GHGs emitted!  This bill addresses that and our bill is the most comprehensive in the nation

Climate Impacts

 HB21-1266 | Environmental Justice Disproportionate Impacted Community !!! | Concerning efforts to redress the effects of environmental injustice on disproportionately impacted communities. Click here for amendment adding much of SB200

  • L009 added in Senate Finance which incorporated SB200 except transportation and buildings
    • Provides for the first time a legislative definition of Disproportionally Impacted Community (DIC or DI Community)
    • Creates an Ombudsman at CDPHE to assist DICs in rulemakings and complaints and a task force to go into DICs (along with the money to fund it) and actively solicit participation including child care, nght/weekend hours, multi-language, snacks, transit access etc.
    • BUT “nothing in this act alters the GHGs reductions goals previously enacted in either amount or timing” and
      • Adds that AQCC may promulgate rules that increase the previously enacted targets
      • Add GHGs in toto as a reportable emission with fees and reporting/monitoring requirements
    • Establishes the requirement for monitoring in DICs including PM2.5
    • Establishes GHGs as a pollutant and requires fees for emissions thereof
    • Provides recourse for more legislation/rulemakings if Roadmap goals are not met (as reported in odd-numbered years)
    • “Encourages” AQCC to promulgate rules in utilities sector that reduces GHGs by at least 48% by 2025 and 80% by 2030
    • “Encourages” AQCC to promulgate rules in industrial manufacturing sector and the O&FG sector that reduces GHGs by at least 36% by 2025 and 60% by 2030
      • Established a cap-and-trade system for emissions
    • Establishes a social cost of GHGs using a 2.5% discount rate based on the federal standard whoever is higher
    • Requires self-reported monitoring of GHGs in addition to existing pollutants (HAPs/CO2/NOx/VOCs/etc)

HB21-1274 | Unused State-owned Real Property Beneficial Use | Concerning the beneficial use of unused state-owned real property, and, in connection therewith, directing the department of personnel to inventory such property and use such property to promote affordable housing and renewable energy development.

HB21-1312 | Insurance Premium Property Sales Severance Tax | Concerning taxation, and, in connection therewith, narrowing the scope of the home office insurance premium tax rate reduction

HB21-1162 | Management Of Plastic Products !!! | Concerning the management of plastic products.

  • Amended out the provision to allow local government preemption for the ban of more types of plastics, then amended it back in again!
    • Amended to exclude from the bag ban any business with less than 3 locations
    • 10c on paper and plastics no mo’ starting 2023
    • Lunch ladies win so schools get to keep using styrofoam until 2025.

HB21-1052 | Define Pumped Hydroelectricity As Renewable Energy !!! | Concerning the inclusion of pumped hydroelectric energy generation in the definition of “eligible energy resources” for purposes of meeting Colorado’s renewable energy standard.

HB21-1131 | Cooperative Electric Associations Governance Requirements !!!

Concerning governance requirements for cooperative electric associations.

HB21-1141 | Electric Vehicle License Plate | Concerning the creation of a license plate for plug-in electric motor vehicles.

HB21-1149 | Energy Sector Career Pathway In Higher Education | Concerning supporting an energy sector career pathway for Colorado.

Addressing Wildfires

HB21-1208 | Natural Disaster Mitigation Enterprise | Concerning the creation of an enterprise that is exempt from the requirements of section 20 of article X of the state constitution to administer a fee-based natural disaster mitigation grant program. $4.2M

HB21-1008 | Forest Health Project Financing | Concerning increased options for financing forest health projects, and, in connection therewith, financing wildfire mitigation treatments. Sponsors: Arndt/Catlin, Cooke/Hansen. Up to $50M in bonds

SB21-113 | Firefighting Aircraft Wildfire Mgmt And Response | Concerning state funding of firefighting aircraft to respond to wildfires. $30.8M for the “Firehawk” helicopter

SB21-054 | Transfers For Wildfire Mitigation And Response | Concerning transfers from the general fund to cash funds to be used to address wildland fires, and, in connection therewith, making an appropriation. $13M

SB21-221 | Projects Under Wildfire Risk Mitigation Grant Program | Concerning projects under the forest restoration and wildfire risk mitigation grant program. Removes the $1M limit

SB21-258 |  Wildfire Risk Mitigation | Concerning the administration of state assistance programs to mitigate the risk of wildfire, and, in connection therewith, creating the wildfire mitigation capacity development fund and the hazard mitigation fund $31.6M next 2 years.

Agriculture/Carbon Farming

HB21-1242 | Create Agricultural Drought And Climate Resilience Office | Concerning the creation of an agricultural drought and climate resilience office in the department of agriculture.

SB21-234 | General Fund Transfer Agriculture And Drought Resiliency | Concerning creation of the agriculture and drought resiliency fund, and, in connection therewith, transferring money from the general fund to the fund – $1.2M

SB21-235 | Stimulus Funding Department Of Agriculture Efficiency Programs | Concerning additional funding for programs of the department of agriculture to support increased efficiency in agricultural operations – $5M

Climate Legislation that Failed

 SB21-200 | Reduce Greenhouse Gases Increase Environmental Justice | See HB21-1266

 SB21-114 | Minimum Setback New Schools From Existing Oil And Gas

Concerning the establishment of a minimum setback requirement from existing oil and gas facilities for new public school building sites.

  • Appeared to be an O&G bill but was in fact a bill to prevent the construction of any new public schools in Weld County.
    • Time for local and state regs on “reverse” setbacks of new buildings from existing O&G fields.

HB21-1246 | PERA Public Employees’ Retirement Association Divestment From Fossil Fuel Companies !!!

HB21-1199 | Consumer Digital Repair Bill Of Rights | Concerning a requirement that a manufacturer of digital electronic equipment facilitate the repair of the equipment by providing persons other than authorized repair providers affiliated with the manufacturer with the resources needed to repair the equipment.

SB21-034 | Water Resource Financing Enterprise | Concerning the creation of an enterprise that is exempt from the requirements of section 20 of article X of the state constitution to administer a fee-based water resources financing program.

 SB21-125 | Alternate Proposals Air Quality Control Rulemaking | Concerning the submission of alternate proposals to rules being considered by the air quality control commission.

  • Tried to prohibit enviro groups from offering alternate proposals to bad rules

 HB21-1205 | Electric Vehicle Road Usage Equalization Fee | Concerning a road usage equalization fee for plug-in electric motor vehicles. | Note this bill came back as a provision in the Transportation Bill (SB21-260)

 SB21-149 | Wind Energy Facilities Sited Near Military Operations | Concerning limitations on the construction of wind energy facilities sited near military resources.

SB21-161 | Voluntary Reduce Greenhouse Gas Natural Gas Utility | Postponed by the sponsor and replaced with SB264

 SB21-163 | Cost-benefit Analysis For Rules Additional Requirements | Concerning additional requirements for a cost-benefit analysis performed in connection with a state agency’s adoption of rules.

  • Tried to make costs (loss of revenue) a decision-making factor in the implementation of GHGs reductions rules.


 HB21-1034 | Consumer Right To Use Natural Gas Or Propane | Concerning a guarantee of customer choice in the use of gaseous fuels to produce thermal energy.

2021 Climate Legislation Summary