Advocating strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to a level supportive of a livable climate.

Author: Kevin Cross Page 1 of 5

Public Comment in support of Cumulative Impacts Rulemaking Petition to the COGCC

Six groups, including CCLC members 350 Colorado, WildEarth Guardians, and the Larimer Alliance, have submitted a rulemaking petition to ask the COGCC to make rules to tackle cumulative impacts of oil and gas operations in Colorado. The rules proposed by the co-petitioners will address ozone, climate, and environmental justice among other things. The COGCC wants to hear from the public and groups about whether they should hold a rulemaking on these issues.

Instructions for submitting comments, along with background information can be found in this toolkit: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_16ulI1vV7pW7rmH0xaN2cHaIuQJ2y0TzTb944T8utg/edit#.

Comments made on behalf of organizations are especially helpful.

Action Alert: Tell Your Representative to Stop Manchin’s Dirty Deal!

As part of the deal to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, Senators Manchin and Schumer are introducing a separate piece of legislation that would fast-track permit approvals for dangerous fossil fuel projects in September. We need to tell our Congressional delegation to oppose this act.

The bill finally “dropped” on September 21st. As was long anticipated it’s a disaster – it guts bedrock environmental protections, endangers public health, fast-tracks fossil fuels, and pushes approval for Manchin’s pet project, the Mountain Valley Pipeline. You can view the bill here.

This is a dirty deal written by and for the fossil fuel industry. Leader Schumer will attach this legislation to a must-pass government spending bill this September, so we must do everything we can to stop this legislation in its tracks.

Write to your Members of Congress to pledge right now to block any efforts to dish out new fossil fuel handouts by clicking here. The permitting reforms proposed solely benefit the fossil fuel industry. Protecting our communities and climate is more important than giving Senator Manchin another present to take back to his fossil fuel industry donors. Stop the dirty deal.

The Supreme Court has put us in a Constitutional Crisis and a Climate Crisis

Published in the Colorado Sun on August 6th, 2022

The Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate is outraged by the recent Supreme Court decision eviscerating the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

The decision is an outright attack on Congress that shatters our checks-and-balances system of government. It signals that we are in a constitutional crisis that will impede our ability to tackle the climate emergency. 

There are multiple flaws in the Court’s decision on West Virginia vs. EPA. First, the Court chose to accept a case in which the EPA regulation in question — the Clean Power Plan — was repealed three years ago. That is a clear overreach of its authority. No court should have the ability to resurrect a repealed law or rescinded regulation, just to create new legal precedent at will.

Second, the Court majority abandoned the strict “originalism” to which it otherwise professes fealty and invoked the relatively novel legal theory it has deemed the “major questions” doctrine, that allows the court to engage in judicial activism across any spectrum of society, business, or law. This intrusion into both the executive and legislative branches functions violates the Constitution’s separation of powers. 

Third, the majority’s reasoning calls into question Congress’s ability to legislate and delegate implementation of rules to regulatory agencies with the requisite expertise to protect consumers, workers, and the environment. It is unreasonable to expect legislators to have decades of professional experience in every aspect of a proposed bill.

In addition, the executive-branch functions of selecting agency heads and defining their missions — backed by career civil servants who are presumed to be  expert in their field — shouldn’t be overruled by an unelected judiciary with neither the constitutional authority nor the expertise to do so. This is a runaway jury, as novelist John Grisham would say. Clearly, if our three branches of government do not respect each others’ powers, our Constitution ceases to provide the protection it has afforded for the last nearly 250 years.

This decision and others this year are the end result of a multi-decade process by corporations and wealthy individuals to politicize the Supreme Court by filling it with extremist, corporate-friendly justices. Fairness and principle had no place whatsoever in this lengthy plan to reshape the Supreme Court into one which values corporate rights over human and civil rights. The current court majority clearly prioritizes corporate interests over all others, including — in the case of West Virginia vs. EPA — the continued viability of Earth as a home for humans and other animal species.

Come October, the Court will once again exercise the “major questions” doctrine by ruling on whether automobile emissions standards are also beyond the bounds of regulatory oversight, likely returning us to days of low miles/gallon vehicles, and condemning air quality to be irreparably harmed. The current EPA-allowed limit on breathing particulate matter, which is generated primarily from power plants and internal combustion engines, is 11 pounds per day. 

That’s right: It’s acceptable to breathe in 11 pounds of invisible soot every day. With the rollback of the Clean Air Act, and the forthcoming ruling to eviscerate emissions standards, how much more pollution will we breathe each day, and when did it become the job of the Supreme Court to decide this?

Ask your Congressional representatives what they can do to restore checks and balances, and the authority of both the legislative and executive branches of government. The fastest and surest way to do this would be to expand the Court to 13 or more justices to restore the balance that is now clearly lacking.

Court expansion would also require eliminating the filibuster rule in the Senate. Term limits for justices, curtailing the Court’s jurisdiction, and making judicial ethics — including mandatory recusal requirements and discipline applicable to the justices — should also be explored. Demand a plan to address the climate crisis from the legislative branch that can be implemented by the executive branch agencies and will survive this activist court. 

Since the prospects for Supreme Court reform are slim, we must also do everything we can at the state level, by electing candidates who are committed to climate action. And we can contact our congresspeople and tell them we want their support on the Inflation Reduction Act.

We are in both a constitutional and climate crisis; the time to act is now. Failure to address climate change will have devastating consequences, not just for our children and grandchildren, but also for ourselves.

Kevin Cross, of Fort Collins, and Jan Rose, of Wheat Ridge, represent Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate.

Colorado Candidate Questionnaire on Climate and Clean Energy

Updated on August 30, 2022

The CCLC recently invited all Colorado Gubernatorial and General Assembly candidates who will be competing in the general election this November to either respond or update their responses to our questionnaire on climate protection and clean energy. A total of 54 candidates who will be on the ballot in November have responded. We’ve posted the results, and hope they will be helpful as people make up their minds who to support in the general election.

Click here to view and download a PDF file containing candidate responses. You will probably need to “zoom in” to make the responses legible. Click here for a link that will download an Excel version of the same file to your device. A link to find your Colorado House and Senate District is provided at the top of each file. 

Public Utilities Commission Filing Urging Immediate Closure of the Pueblo Unit 3 Coal Plant

Posted on May 8th, 2022

The Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate has filed comments with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission urging the commissioners to close the Pueblo Unit 3 (“Comanche 3”) coal plant now, rather than waiting until 2031 to do so. Instead, Xcel and its ratepayers should stop wasting time and money on this mistake and start investing our time and money in resources, both demand side and supply side that will help build a truly reliable, low-carbon electrical system for Xcel’s Colorado customers.

View the filing here:

https://colivableclimate.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/21A-0141E-CCLC-Comments-on-Xcels-ERP-Revised-Settlement-May-6-2022.pdf

Selected Remarks Made at 2022 Earth Day Picnic, March and Rally in Denver

Posted on April 26th, 2022

The following remarks were made by Giselle Herzfeld and Kevin Cross at the Earth Day Picnic, March and Rally held at the Colorado State Capitol and the Denver Federal Reserve Building on Earth Day.

Giselle Herzfeld, 350 Colorado

If you had a choice between investing your money in destruction and pollution or investing it into a healthy and safe future, which would you choose?

American banks have been funneling our money into oil and gas projects that are contaminating our drinking water and our air, making us sick, and fueling the climate crisis. 

If only these banks had a referee that could stop them from making bad decisions.

Oh wait. Guess what? They DO! That referee is called the Federal Reserve and its job is to manage risk and avert catastrophes. But instead of doing its job, the Fed has allowed banks to fund fossil fuel companies to the tune of $1.2 trillion over the past 5 years since the Paris Agreement. 

If banks continue to fund fossil fuel projects, by 2050, we can expect $23 trillion in global economic losses as a result of the climate crisis.

Today on Earth Day, we’re mobilizing all across America to say enough is enough! Our lives matter, our health matters, our future matters. The Federal Reserve must immediately steer banks away from fossil fuels to avert climate catastrophe.

The Climate Crisis does not impact everyone equally. The painful truth is that the people who have contributed the least to the climate crisis are suffering the most from its impacts. Around the world, millions of people are being displaced from their homes every year due to natural disasters such as storms, floods, fires, droughts, and these disasters are increasing in number every year. A recent World Bank report predicts that over 200 million people are likely to migrate over the next three decades because of extreme weather events or environmental degradation. Here in Colorado, the Marshall fire destroyed over a thousand homes and displaced thousands of people. Today is the 18th consecutive day with a Red Flag Warning in Colorado. This is unprecedented, especially in April in what is meant to be one of the wettest seasons of the year. 

We are at a crucial point in history where we can still keep global warming under 1.5 degrees census and avert the worst of the climate catastrophe, but it will take a massive overhaul of the institutions that are driving this crisis to a breaking point. 

Thank you for joining me today, as we call on the Federal Reserve to treat the climate crisis as the emergency that it is, and to spend our money on a just transition and green new deal! 

Kevin Cross, Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate

Props to Colorado Governors and to our legislature, who first acknowledged that we have a problem and set climate goals way back in 2008.  That’s when Governor Bill Ritter set a goal of 20% greenhouse gas pollution reductions by 2020 compared to 2005 levels.

Alas, we didn’t do so well on achieving that goal.  In 2019 – the last year for which data is available – Colorado’s greenhouse gas pollution was down only 9% compared to 2005 – about half of the reductions that Governor Ritter had committed to.

We can take comfort from the fact that our legislature and governor have approved numerous bills related to protecting the climate since 2019.  Yet much more needs to be done if we are to actually achieve the new goals adopted by our state government for 2025 and 2030.

That, of course, is where all of us come in.  Politicians at all levels are easily distracted by immediate crises, cash and threats from the fossil fuel industry, and media that by and large do not take the climate crisis as seriously as they should.  Here are some things you can do:

  1. Read Jan Rose’s weekly legislative updates – which are posted prominently on the Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate website – and communicate your support for key climate bills to your legislators regularly.
  2. Tell your utility providers and the PUC that you want them to close coal plants now and prepare to transition away from using fracked gas to run power plants and heat buildings asap.
  3. Tell the COGCC that we need to end fossil fuel extraction in our state by 2030.
  4. Finally, tell your friends in other states what you’re doing, and encourage them to do similar things where they live.

We don’t have another decade to lose.  Incremental change won’t preserve a livable climate for our children or for ourselves.  We all need to think and act boldly to protect the climate.

Tell the Xcel Energy Board of Directors and Governor Polis to Close the Pueblo 3 Coal Plant Now!

Please send a short note to the Xcel Board of Directors and Governor Polis telling them to close the Unit 3 coal plant in Pueblo now.  Short and very short messages are fine.  You can either just send the message in all caps immediately below or use some of the talking points below that to add to your message.  E-addresses appear below the talking points.

CLOSE THE UNIT 3 COAL PLANT IN PUEBLO –NOW!

(This is the coal plant that Xcel insensitively calls “Comanche 3”–never mind that the Comanche people almost certainly don’t want a coal plant named after them!) 

  • Pueblo Unit 3 (PU3) is Colorado’s single largest source of carbon dioxide
  • Climate change is real and serious (Perhaps mention the IPCC report, the Southwest’s worst drought in over 1000 years, the Marshall Fire, etc etc).
  • The PU3 coal plant is down now–it doesn’t make sense to fix a coal plant given the seriousness of the climate crisis–just retire it now!
  • It doesn’t make sense to rely on an extremely unreliable coal plant for reliability reasons (Search Comanche 3 Unreliable for lots of stories…) 
  • It is BEYOND UNCONSCIONABLE to profit from a coal plant in the 21st century (Xcel seems to be largely driven by a desire to harvest as much profit as it can from their imprudent decision to build the Pueblo Unit 3 coal plant!!) 

Again–Short and very short messages are fine–we just need Xcel and Governor Polis to know that we are watching and don’t want this coal plant on our conscience!! 

Here are the e-addresses:

1) Xcel Board of Directors: boardofdirectors@xcelenergy.com

2) CC Governor Polis (who should use his position to ask Xcel to close PU3): Governorpolis@state.co.us

3) BCC Leslie Glustrom, who will pass your letters on to the other organizers of this campaign.

Rally for a Coal-Free Colorado – Let’s Retire Colorado’s Biggest Climate Polluter!

Any day now, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission will decide to approve or reject Xcel Energy’s latest proposal to burn coal at Colorado’s biggest coal plant for 12 more years! Colorado communities can’t afford 12 more years of coal pollution. Please join us in front of Xcel Energy’s Colorado Headquarters to tell Xcel Energy we need a coal-free Colorado ASAP!

What: Noon rally at Xcel HQ, speakers 12:30-1pm, followed by canvassing around Coors Field
Where: Outside Xcel Energy Headquarters, 1800 Larimer St., Denver
When: Rally 12-1pm, canvass to follow at 1pm, Friday, April 8th, 2022
Who: YOU! Wear red and drop in for any part of this important action.
RSVP: on Facebook or here on Mobilize – https://www.mobilize.us/climatactionco/event/450153/

Facebook Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/394757435412900/

Rally flyer: https://tinyurl.com/CoalFreeCO

Urge President Biden to Invoke the Defense Production Act to Ramp up the Deployment of Renewable Energy

The war in Ukraine is a stark illustration of how fossil fuels directly enable global conflict and threaten democracy in addition to driving the climate emergency. Enormous earnings from oil and gas exports provided President Putin with the hard currency needed to fuel his invasion of Ukraine. President Biden took a necessary first step by halting imports of Russian oil, gas, and coal — but lasting peace and global stability demand bolder climate leadership.  

That’s why Build Back Fossil Free – alongside 200+ climate, Indigenous, social justice, religious, foreign policy, and progressive groups – is urging the Biden administration to continue to resist bad faith attempts to lock in future fossil fuel exploitation and dependence by invoking the Defense Production Act (DPA) to ramp up the deployment of renewable energy and stop existing fossil fuel infrastructure to ensure a just transition off fossil fuels. 

Amidst the backdrop of the latest dire Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the need to transition off of fossil fuels has never been more urgent. This is a critical moment to stand up to the false narrative being spread by the fossil fuel industry that we need to increase oil and gas production in response to surging energy prices, and demand that the President instead lead a just transition off fossil fuels once and for all. 

Biden can deploy his executive powers to weaken the geopolitical power of fossil fuels, address the climate emergency, and prevent further mass suffering by invoking the DPA to produce alternatives to fossil fuels, fight the climate emergency, combat Putin’s stranglehold on the world’s energy economy, and support the transition to a renewable and just economy.

For a list of actions you can take to suit your schedule, see this document.

No, Natural Gas Should Not be Part of our Energy Mix

Published in the Colorado Sun on March 10th, 2022

In their op-ed titled “Natural gas should remain a key option in Colorado’s clean-energy mix,” the authors would have us believe that, long-term, natural gas should be part of the mix for our state’s goals for ending the use of fossil fuels.

Let’s be clear: When we have ended the use of fossil fuels, natural gas must be just another old, discarded technology, replaced by newer, clean electricity. Natural gas is not clean, nor should it remain part of our energy mix.

First, natural gas, when it leaks (it is a leaky substance), sends methane — a prime precursor in ozone pollution — into the atmosphere. Ozone shortens people’s lives, causes breathing problems, and low birth weight.

Then, natural gas is a one-two punch of global warming gases. One: As methane it warms the atmosphere 84-86 times faster than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. Two: When we burn natural gas, it emits carbon dioxide, the global warming gas that lasts for centuries.

The accumulations of global warming gases from our seemingly small contributions add up. They threaten our Colorado water resources, our ski slopes, our visible sky during fire seasons, and more. If we let it go, the resulting climate chaos will wreck crop yields and cripple the widespread civilization our families enjoy.

Natural gas is convenient, it works when we need it, but it is environmental poison. We can’t continue to use it, especially when we have good alternatives.

Evolved Energy, Gridlab, the National Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club comprehensively reported on what it will take to meet our state’s climate goals. On the subject of buildings, both residential and commercial, they say this:

One pathway to meeting the climate goals would require at least 55 percent of new homes to be all electric by 2025 and all new homes to be all electric by 2030 or soon thereafter. In this scenario, 2 to 3 percent of non-electric space heaters and 4 to 5 percent of non-electric water heaters in existing homes must be replaced with electric heat pumps each year [emphasis added].

Commercial buildings must follow a similar trajectory… Transformative electrification of stocks of space heaters and water heaters will take time, and the state must accelerate adoption immediately.

This necessity to replace equipment means that we ought to look at our stock of gas appliances as old, dirty, and temporary.

We can’t afford to change everything out at once. But given that the Front Range has a terrible ozone problem, and given that the climate has already changed and we throughout the state have tasted the smoke filling our lungs, we should eagerly adopt new technologies that allow us to lead better lives.

For individuals, we at Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate urge readers of means to plan to replace their gas stoves, dryers, water heaters, and furnaces with electric. It may sometimes cost more upfront, but spending now to halt the advance of climate change will be less expensive than repairing the consequences of just letting it go. As more people adopt, costs will decrease, allowing for more people, including people with lesser means, to also adopt.

We also ask developers to simply stop laying gas lines to new construction. The cheapest way to convert to electric is to start with electric.

On a community level, we call upon local governments to change their building codes to ban the installation of new natural-gas burning appliances. We ask the state to set a date, as soon as practicable, to outlaw the sale of natural gas appliances.

And we ask each person to acknowledge that we are indeed in a crisis. With this acknowledgement, we ask the taxpayers to fund the transition to electric appliances for those who cannot afford to do so on their own.

The folks of the fossil fuel industry would have us delay, in part, we assume, to maintain their profits for as long as possible. But Colorado’s climate has changed now. It is causing pain now. And will only get terribly worse if we let it go. We need to act now.

Jeff Neuman-Lee, of Denver, is Legislative Team co-chair for Together Colorado‘s Climate Justice Committee.

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