Posted on July 16th, 2023
The legislature did a lot of great work this year, but also passed a slew of bills that we’re concerned will come back to bite us in the form of billions of taxpayer dollars wasted on the false solution that is carbon capture and sequestration—CCS.
We excluded the ‘Utilization’ part of CCUS from much of our legislation, but then we signed a CCUS MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Wyoming, which is proud to support CCUS to justify endless drilling.
We must stop burning carbon. Period. Because let’s face it. Things are pretty dire on the planet. They’re accelerating more rapidly than even the most alarming predictions. And we haven’t even begun to reduce the amount of carbon added to our atmosphere every year. But the world spent as much money on renewables as fossils last year, we did pass historic federal legislation, and at the state level we made excellent progress, adding to our already stellar track record of attacking the climate crisis. It all begins and ends with:
Decarbonization / Electrification – 15 bills
- HB23-1005 – New Energy Improvement Program Changes | Expands the C-PACE program and removes the requirement for a public hearing
- Adds loans based on indoor air quality, wind/fire/flood resistance, storm water control, extreme temperatures, or reducing water consumption
- HB23-1039 – Electric Resource Adequacy Reporting | Ensure planning is adequate for 80% GHGs reduction by 2030
- HB23-1247 | Assess Advanced Energy Solutions In Rural Colorado | Concerning a requirement that the Colorado Energy Office (CEO) conduct studies to assess advanced energy solutions in rural Colorado. AES defined as geothermal, SMR Nuclear, Fracked Gas CCS, long-term storage, wind/solar + storage and ‘other firm energy’ sources.
- Final bill added wind and solar + storage to the study, and includes the impacts on DI Communities and electricity costs as a factor.
- Includes the pursuit of added transmission capacity in Southern Colorado, particularly in the San Luis Valley and SE Plains.
- HB23-1134 | Require Electric Options In Home Warranties | Allowing the homeowner to replace the gas-fueled appliance with a similar device of the homeowner’s choosing that operates on electricity rather than gas.
- HB23-1137 | Solar Garden Net Metering Credits Stabilization | Current law requires an electric utility to offer a net metering credit as the means of purchasing output from a community solar garden (CSG) and establishes the means of calculating the net metering credit. The bill maintains that calculation if the CSG indicates to the utility that the CSG’s subscribers’ bill credits change annually. However, if the CSG indicates to the utility that the CSG’s subscribers’ bill credits remain fixed, the bill provides a different calculation for determining the net metering credit.
- HB23-1161 | Environmental Standards For Appliances | Concerning environmental standards for certain products. | Amended to include limiting gas fireplace inserts, striking general service lamps, low efficiency plumbing, and UPS’s. |Added a ton of new appliances/fixtures such as shower heads, hot tubs, fans, sprinklers, air purifiers, specific windows and doors, thermostats etc., and phases out the sale of general-purpose fluorescent light bulbs that contain mercury. Section 5 requires the CDPHE to promulgate rules on or before January 1, 2026, and every 5 years thereafter.
- We need to phase out old CFCs in air conditioners, etc., which this bill doesn’t do. Feds just did. Hurry!
- HB23-1233 | Electric Vehicle Charging And Parking Requirements | Requiring the state electrical board to adopt rules facilitating electric vehicle charging at multifamily buildings. | Adds multiunit buildings to those that must comply with the solar/EV ready code to comply with EV infrastructure. No property taxes until 2030, and allows for charging stations along interstate highways.
- HB23-1234 | Streamlined Solar Permitting And Inspection Grants | Concerning the streamlined solar permitting and inspection grant program. | The program will grant money to local governments to implement free automated permitting and inspection software. Should cut the grid hookup time from months to 30 days.
- HB23-1252 | Thermal Energy | Concerning the implementation of measures to advance thermal energy service. | Authorizes the CEO to award grants for retrofitting existing buildings for installation of a geothermal system for heating and cooling and for generating geothermal energy through direct air capture (DAC) technology under the geothermal electricity generation grant that the office administers.Section 4 adds thermal energy as an eligible clean heat resource for helping to meet clean heat targets.
- Utilities that serve more than 500,000 customers are required to propose pilot thermal energy network projects for the commission’s review and approval.
- This really reduces the reliance—if implemented—on fracked gas for heating/cooling, and offers a grid-independent 24/7/265 HVAC environment for large buildings.
- Gives the ECMC control. ‘Nuff said. State tax credits for implementation in HB23-1272
- HB23-1272 | Tax Policy That Advances Decarbonization | Tax credits for EVs & med/heavy duty trucks; for industrial facilities to reduce GHGs, for geothermal energy projects, for heat pumps, for e-bikes, and for sustainable aviation fuel; and decreasing the tax credit for oil and gas production to pay for it all. |
- State tax credit of $5,000 beginning now for the purchase or lease of an electric vehicle under $55K for cars or $80K for light trucks/SUVs through 2025 in surplus years (steps down beginning 1/1/26) and $12K for light-heavy duty trucks; extra $2,500 for EV purchase under $35K beginning 1/1/24 (to attract low-income buyers).
- E-bikes get $500 credit
- Air/Ground Heat pumps and heat pump water heaters 10% credit reduced to end 1/1/24 instead of 1/1/25. Starting 1/1/24 air drops to $1,500 through 2025 then steps down; ground drops to $3K then steps down, heat pump water heaters drop to $500. Multi-unit or campus get a credit based on per ton capacity up to 100 tons and incudes geothermal.
- 30% industrial GHG reduction tax credit up to $1M (specific methods on page 19/20) includes hydrogen, CC, biomethane, storage, CDR & DAC, as long as it reduces emissions by at least 20%
- Geothermal systems up to $35M and for electricity generation using geothermal up to $.003/KwH up to $1M
- Sustainable aviation fuel facilities get 30% 2024-2027 then steps down until 2033
- Discount on Class A/B fleet vehicles of 50% or 60% of purchase price depending on weight (wow!)
- The bill decreases the tax credit for oil and gas production from 87.5% to 75%, then steps down. Requires a study on permanent changes to their severance (the amount they pay to extract fossil fuels) tax structure.
- SB23-016 – Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Measures | Requires insurance companies to do climate risk disclosures; Requires an annual climate risk assessment from PERA; Expands ability to add electricity transmission equipment and sets penalties for bad customer service of interconnected equipment (Solar and EV); provides 30% discount on electric lawn equipment; see CCUS for more, and:
- Adds a 65% reduction in GHGs over 2005 levels by 2035, 75% by 2040 and 95% by 2045 benchmark, and ups the 90% by 2050 to 100%
- SB23-092 | Agricultural Producers Use Of Agrivoltaics | Concerning opportunities for voluntary emission reductions in agriculture. | In support of the use of agrivoltaics, which is the integration of solar energy generation facilities with agricultural activities. On or before 9/1/23 convene a study with Dept of Ag (CDA), the Colorado energy office (CEO), and the division of parks and wildlife (DPW), to evaluate the opportunities and challenges associated with agrivoltaics in the state. By 2/15/24, the task force is required to present the results of the study to Ag legislative committees. The Colorado water conservation board (CWCB) , in consultation with the state engineer, the Colorado energy office, and the Colorado water institute, to study the feasibility of using aquavoltaics, which are solar energy generation facilities placed over, or floating on, irrigation canals or reservoirs.
- Requires the DPW to consult on the impacts on wildlife.
- Exempts personal property acquired for agrivoltaics (like drip irrigation and alternative farm equipment) from personal property tax. See CCUS for more.
- HB23-1281 | Advance The Use Of Clean Hydrogen | Concerning measures to advance the use of clean hydrogen in the state. |
- Designed to support utilities’ use of hydrogen for storage and electricity creation instead of fracked gas and buying LNG on the spot market
- Requires Cumulative Impacts analysis including comparing to alternative renewables including lifetime GHGs
- Looks for ways to sell green (as oppose to ‘clean’) hydrogen (which we must ensure does not take place on the backs of ratepayers!)
- SB23-198 | Clean Energy Plans | Concerning the verification of clean energy plans to ensure that the plans achieve the state’s greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. |
- Ensures the entire utility sector (not just investor owned utilities) will actually achieve 80% reduction in GHGs by 2030
- Gives them state assistance if the plans they submit don’t meet the state’s goals
- Ensures the entire utility sector (not just investor owned utilities) will actually achieve 80% reduction in GHGs by 2030
- SB23-291 | Utility Regulation | Concerning the public utilities commission’s regulation of energy utilities. |
- Requires that IOUs (Investor owned utilities) share in the cost of commodity purchase of LNG, thus making them feel the pain ratepayers feel in the winter
- Rejects ratepayers paying for lawyers to advocate to raise rates, and for the marketing costs for a captive customer base
- Maybe prevents Xcel customers from paying for lawsuits due to Xcel’s negligence?
- Mostly a ‘We’re watching you!” warning bill.
Pollinators – 2 bills
- SB23-192 | Sunset Pesticide Applicators’ Act | Concerning implementing recommendations contained in the 2022 sunset report by the department of regulatory agencies regarding the act. |
- SB23-266 | Neonic Pesticides As Limited-use Pesticides | Concerning a requirement that the commissioner of agriculture designate neonicotinoid pesticides as limited-use pesticides.
Pollution – 7 bills
- HB23-1101 | Ozone Season Transit Grant Program Flexibility | Concerning increasing the flexibility of the ozone season transit grant program | Metro transportation districts can choose when they want to offer free fares, and the Denver metro area has chosen July AND August this year!
- HB23-1285 | Store Use Of Carryout Bags And Sustainable Products | Concerning the requirement that a store use fees collected from single-use bags to purchase certain items for the store. | Stores didn’t figure out how to use the bill we gave them last year, so this bill makes it clear.
- HB23-1294 | Pollution Prevention Measures | Concerning measures to protect communities (particularly those in the nonattainmemt zone) from pollution. | Gutted, then amended some more. Critically important provisions remain, which include
- THE COMMISSION SHALL REVIEW, CONSIDER, AND INCLUDE ADDRESSABLE IMPACTS TO CLIMATE, PUBLIC HEALTH, THE ENVIRONMENT, AIR QUALITY, WATER QUALITY, NOISE, ODOR, WILDLIFE, AND BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES, AND TO DISPROPORTIONATELY IMPACTED COMMUNITIES, AS DEFINED IN SECTION 24-4-109 (2)(b)(II). This may seem trivial, but we’ve been trying to get the ECMC (then the COGCC) to recognize and deal with cumulative impacts since SB181 required it in 2019, and they have steadfastly refused to do so. Now they have no choice.
- (IV) As USED IN THIS SUBSECTION(11)(d), “IMPACTS TO CLIMATE” MEANS QUANTIFICATION OF EMISSIONS OF GREENHOUSE GASES, AS DEFINED IN SECTION 25-7-140 (6), THAT OCCUR FROM SOURCES THAT ARE CONTROLLED OR OWNED BY THE OPERATOR AND REASONABLY FORESEEABLE TRUCK TRAFFIC AT AN OIL AND GAS LOCATION. Important for including transportation not just pad operations.
- SB23-143 | Retail Delivery Fees | Concerning the administration of the existing retail delivery fees collected by the department of revenue. |
- This bill preserves a piece of the giant transportation bill from a previous session (SB21-260)
- SB23-191 | Colorado Department Of Public Health And Environment Organics Diversion Study | Concerning a study regarding diversion of organic materials from landfills.
- Because food waste generates so much of the methane emanating from landfills. But food waste makes great fertilizer, so let’s find a way to divert landfill emissions to beneficial use.
- SB23-253 | Standards For Products Represented As Compostable | Concerning standards for products represented as compostable in the state.
- Quit misleading the public about whether your packaging is compostable.
- HB23-1272 | Pays for a lot of this. Puts our money where our mouth is. And also makes the frackers pay for us to stop using their products, which I love. You should love it too.
Climate Disaster – 10 bills
- HB23-1240 | Sales Use Tax Exemption Wildfire Disaster Construction | Concerning a sales and use tax exemption for construction and building materials used for repairing and rebuilding residential structures damaged or destroyed by a declared wildfire disaster in 2020, 2021, or 2022 |
- Helps survivors of our wildfires the past three years with rebuilding. Eliminates sales tax on building materials.
- HB23-1273 | Creation Of Wildfire Resilient Homes Grant Program | Provides grants for people trying to make their homes more wildfire resistant.
- SB23-005 – Forestry And Wildfire Mitigation Workforce |
- Clean up the wildfire caused deadfall and beetle kill so instead of emitting carbon and methane as it decomposes, it instead makes biochar for well plugging and other beneficial uses
- SB23-010 – (Permanent) Water Resources And Agriculture Review Committee | Duh?
- SB23-139 | State Severance Tax Trust Fund Allocation | Concerning the appropriation of money from the severance tax operational fund to the wildfire mitigation capacity development fund, and, in connection therewith, making an appropriation. | Using fracker taxes to help us clean up their own mess, gotta love it.
- SB23-161 | Financing To Purchase Firefighting Aircraft | Fires these days grow so fast that we need really rapid response to curtail, so our own firefighting equipment—our 2nd Firehawk (A Blackhawk equipped with firefighting capabilities) helicopter purchase.
- SB23-166 | Establishment Of A Wildfire Resiliency Code Board | Concerning adopting model codes within the wildland-urban interface (WUI). | If you build or own in the WUI, you need to take some responsibility to protect yourself.
- SB23-177 | CO Water Projects Appropriations | Concerning the funding of Colorado Water Conservation Board Projects, and in connection therewith, making an (enormous) appropriation
- SB23-178 | Water-wise Landscaping In Homeowners’ Association Communities | Concerning removing barriers to water-wise landscaping and vegetable gardens in common interest communities.
- SB23-295 | Colorado River Drought Task Force | Concerning the creation of the Colorado river drought task force.
Climate in Agriculture – 3 bills
- SB23-010 – (Permanent) Water Resources And Agriculture Review Committee |
- HB23-1220 | Study Republican River Groundwater Economic Impact | Concerning a study regarding the economic impact of the elimination of large-capacity groundwater withdrawal within the Republican river basin. | Because we’ve drawn so much groundwater we’re tilting the earth’s axis—really!
- SB23-092 | Agricultural Producers Use Of Agrivoltaics | Concerning opportunities for voluntary emission reductions in agriculture through agri- and aquavoltaics, and begin the to quantify and monetize carbon sequestration in the soil. | Also provides an additional source of income by co-locating solar panels with their crops.
CCUS – 9 bills
- HB23-1069 | Study Biochar In Plugging Of Oil And Gas Wells | Concerning the creation of the biochar in oil and gas well plugging working advisory group to make recommendations for the development of a pilot program to study the use of biochar in the plugging of oil and gas wells.
- The only carbon capture and sequestration bill that actually works, is cost-effective, and has a host of co-benefits, like reducing the toxic leaks in and around well pads, and lessening the volume of cement used in well plugging
- HB23-1210 | Carbon Management | Concerning carbon management, and, in connection therewith, ensuring that carbon management projects are eligible for grants under the industrial and manufacturing operations clean air grant program and providing for the creation of a carbon management roadmap.
- HB23-1247 | Assess Advanced Energy Solutions In Rural Colorado | Includes CCS for fracked gas plants.
- HB23-1252 | Thermal Energy | Concerning the implementation of measures to advance thermal energy service. | Authorizes the CEO to award grants for … direct air capture technology.
- HB23-1281 | Advance The Use Of Clean Hydrogen | Concerning measures to advance the use of clean hydrogen in the state. | Beginning in 2028 (perhaps sooner) they can start blending hydrogen with fracked gas. What a deal.
- SB23-016 – Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Measures | Authorizing state primacy application for Class VI carbon sequestration wells, after determining if the cumulative impacts of one will have positive impacts on a DI community, and if negative must be denied; may not be sited within 2000’ of a DI Community until after 4 years of operations of 4 wells,
- Sets this definition of Cumulative Impacts: “MEANS THE EFFECT ON PUBLIC HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT, INCLUDING THE EFFECT ON AIR QUALITY, WATER QUALITY, THE CLIMATE, NOISE, ODOR, WILDLIFE, AND BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES, CAUSED BY THE INCREMENTAL IMPACT THAT A PROPOSED NEW OR MODIFIED CLASS VI INJECTION WELL WOULD HAVE WHEN ADDED TO THE IMPACTS FROM OTHER PAST, PRESENT, AND REASONABLY FORESEEABLE FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF ANY TYPE ON THE AFFECTED AREA, INCLUDING AN AIRSHED OR WATERSHED, OR ON A DISPROPORTIONATELY IMPACTED COMMUNITY. But this is belied by this: “PERMIT ISSUED UNDER THIS SECTION ARE SUFFICIENT TO ENSURE THAT ANY CLASS VI INJECTION WELL IMPACTS ARE AVOIDED, MINIMIZED TO THE EXTENT PRACTICABLE,AND,TO THE EXTENT THAT ANY CLASS VI INJECTION WELL IMPACTS REMAIN, THAT THE IMPACTS ARE MITIGATED. THE COMMISSION SHALL PROVIDE A PLAIN LANGUAGE SUMMARY OF HOW THE NEGATIVE IMPACTS ARE AVOIDED OR, IF NOT AVOIDED, MINIMIZED AND MITIGATED AND, IF ANY, THE NEGATIVE IMPACTS THAT CANNOT BE MITIGATED.
- This clause was also added “THE COMMISSION, IN CONSULTATION WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT, SHALL EVALUATE THE RISK OF CLASS VI INJECTION WELLS BY DETERMINING THE LIKELIHOOD AND SEVERITY OF AN INCIDENT INVOLVING A CLASS VI INJECTION WELL, THE POTENTIAL FOR EXPOSURE FROM SUCH INCIDENT, AND THE OVERALL EFFECT THAT SUCH INCIDENT COULD HAVE ON THE PUBLIC HEALTH, SAFETY, AND WELFARE AND ON THE ENVIRONMENT. Also includes a 2000’ setback from a school, residence or commercial building but gives an out after 4 years and 4 or more wells.
- Gives Local Governments control over siting and allows them to set fees for EMS response, equipment, and training. This will be key in ensuring dispersion modeling is a matter of public record.
- SB23-092 | Agricultural Producers Use Of Agrivoltaics | Concerning opportunities in agriculture through agri- and aquavoltaics, and begin the to quantify and monetize carbon sequestration in the soil.
- Examine greenhouse gas reduction and carbon sequestration opportunities in the agricultural sector, including soil health management practices, the use of dry digesters, and the potential for creating and offering a certified greenhouse gas offset program and credit instruments in the agricultural sector, with a a progress report by October 1, 2024, and a final report, including any recommendations, on or before October 1, 2025.
- SB23-285 | Energy And Carbon Management Regulation In Colorado | Concerning energy and carbon management regulation in Colorado, and, in connection therewith, changing the name of the oil and gas conservation commission (COGCC) to the energy and carbon management commission (ECMC) and broadening the commission’s regulatory authority to include the regulation of certain geothermal resource operations and intrastate underground natural gas storage facilities.
- HB23-1272 | Tax Policy That Advances Decarbonization | Tax credits for … for industrial facilities to reduce GHGs via CCS projects.
- While 1281 (Hydrogen bill) is currently focused on the utility sector’s use of green hydrogen, the tax incentives here may nudge industrial processes like cement and fertilizer toward blue hydrogen (SMR – Steam Methane Reforming) so we’ll have to keep a close eye on this one.
Oil & Gas – 7 bills
- HB23-1069 | Study Biochar In Plugging Of Oil And Gas Wells
- HB23-1074 | Study Workforce Transitions To Other Industries | Concerning a study regarding (O&G) workforce transitions to other industries.| Amended to include skills transfer to CCUS/hydrogen tech.
- HB23-1216 | Natural Gas Pipeline Safety | Concerning measures to promote safety in the distribution of natural gas.
- HB23-1242 | Water Conservation In Oil And Gas Operations | Concerning water used in oil and gas operations. Good reporting on the use of fresh and toxic produced water, but no definite commitment to reduce freshwater use. Also creates a new department to pursue what can be done with billions of gallons of produced water created annually by frackers.
- HB23-1294 | Pollution Prevention Measures | Concerning measures to protect communities (particularly those in the nonattainment zone) from pollution. |
- Allows 3rd party evidence and provides for a new complaint standard.
- The Interim Committee this bill establishes should give the state more tools to address air quality problems inherent in fracking.
- SB23-186 | Oil And Gas Commission Study Methane Seepage Raton Basin | Requires the ECMC to complete a study and establish a new regulatory category.
- HB23-1272 | But I can’t think of anything better than making frackers pay to help us stop using their planet-killing products. So I’ll end this summary of 2023 legislation on that very fine note!
For the final “weekly” legislative update with with more thorough bill language and the positions taken by the CCLC, see this post.