Updated on April 21st, 2021

The CCLC has taken positions on the following 2021 Colorado General Assembly bills:

SB21-200 | Reduce Greenhouse Gases Increase Environmental Justice | Concerning measures to further environmental protections, and, in connection therewith, adopting measures to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and adopting protections for disproportionately impacted communities. SPONSORS: Sens Winter/Moreno, Rep Jackson | SUMMARY: Current law requires the air quality control commission (AQCC) to adopt rules that will result in the statewide reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of 26% by 2025, 50% by 2030, and 90% by 2050, as compared to 2005 emissions. Section 2 of the bill supplements these requirements by directing the AQCC to: Consider the social cost of GHG emissions; Require GHG reductions on a linear or more stringent path; and Finalize its implementing rules by March 1, 2022, including specific net emission weight limits for various emission sectors, subject to modification by the AQCC, including through the use of a multi-sector program; Directing each wholesale generation and transmission electric cooperative to file with the public utilities commission a responsible energy plan that will achieve at least an 80% GHG reduction by 2030 as compared to 2005 levels and specifying that if a plan is not filed, the cooperative must achieve at least a 90% GHG reduction by 2030 as compared to 2005 levels; and directing each retail, wholesale, and municipal electric utility and cooperative electric association to reduce its GHG emissions by at least 95% between 2035 and 2040 and by 100% by 2040. Section 3 adds GHG to the definition of “regulated pollutant”, prohibits the AQCC from excluding GHG emissions from the requirement to pay annual emission fees that are based on emissions of regulated pollutants, gives the AQCC rule-making authority to set the GHG annual emission fee, and authorizes the use of these fees for outreach to and engagement of disproportionately impacted communities. Section 4 requires the AQCC’s GHG reporting rules to establish an assumed emission rate representing the average regional fossil fuel generation emission rate for electricity generated by a renewable energy resource for which the associated renewable energy credit is not retired in the year generated. Section 5 creates an environmental justice ombudsperson position and an environmental justice advisory board in the department of public health and environment. The ombudsperson and the advisory board will work collaboratively to promote environmental justice in Colorado. Sections 2 and 5 specify processes for soliciting and facilitating input from disproportionately impacted communities regarding proposed AQCC rule changes and departmental decision-making.

✅ CCLC POSITION: SUPPORT.

Rationale:  This is one of the hallmark bills of the session, and is designed to address the many shortcomings that environmental and community groups have been expressing about progress (or lack thereof) on HB1261.  It FINALLY includes GHGs as a specific pollutant that must be permitted, fee’d and emission controlled (not just CO2, CH4, etc). Further, at only 6.5 FTE (Full-Time Employees) our Climate Change unit is severely hampered (particularly in comparison to California, whose lead we often follow, which has more than 200 FTE working on this issue) and with staff juggling an intense schedule of rulemakings over the next couple of years, it’s important to have staffing to work on enforcing rules, not just writing them, which this bill will provide. It’s also designed to (quoting Senator Winter) address all 4 pillars of the climate crisis: electricity via both codifying ‘promises’ by utilities to reduce GHGs, and by requiring more aggressive emissions reductions.  It addresses O&G emissions reductions by defining maximum emissions of 13MMT by 2025 and 8MMT CO2e by 2030, which largely prevents the planned expansion of O&G production by 30% over the next 10 years. It addresses buildings (by requiring built environment rulemakings on home heating and GHGs), transportation (via this summer’s planned AQCC rulemaking) and Environmental Justice, by helping the public navigate the system and participate in the Rulemaking process by providing them an ombudsman, which our various groups have been stressing the need for since 1261/181 were passed. And it devotes some money to addressing the needs of our DI communities as they participate in the process, by providing staff and funding for things such as after-hours meetings located within DI Communities, providing multi-lingual and child-care services, snacks and transportation, and potential compensation for speakers/panelists from the community to help, etc.  Strenuously supported by Sierra Club and CoCO, all hands on deck requested by sponsor Winter.  Fact sheet here. Sierra Club benefits here. STATUS: Approved with amendments by Senate Transportation and Energy Committee on 4/20; will be heard next by Senate Finance Committee.

HB21-1238 | Public Utilities Commission Modernize Gas Utility Demand-side Management Standards | Concerning the modernization of gas energy efficiency programs. SPONSORS: Rep Bernett/Sen Hansen SUMMARY: The bill updates the methods used to determine the cost-effectiveness of demand-side management (DSM) programs of public utilities selling natural gas at retail, including requiring that the calculation of future benefits reflects the avoided costs to ratepayers resulting from reduced consumption of natural gas. The bill specifies that the calculation must be based on reliable estimates and published scientific data and must include methane emissions. In addition, the bill adds savings targets and budget control mechanisms to the approval process for gas DSM programs, paralleling the existing process that applies to electric DSM programs. 350Colorado Fact Sheet (note Kennedy is not listed as a bill sponsor). Additional bill text (ALL CAPS is new text in statute): “Demand-side management programs” or “DSM programs” means ANY OF THE FOLLOWING PROGRAMS OR COMBINATION OF PROGRAMS:

(a) Energy efficiency, INCLUDING WEATHERIZATION AND INSULATION;

(b) Conservation;

(c) Load management;

(d) BENEFICIAL ELECTRIFICATION, AS DEFINED IN SECTION

40-3.2-106 (6)(a); and

(e) Demand response programs. or any combination of these

programs.

(II) GAS DSM PROGRAM PLANS MAY BE COMBINED WITH ELECTRIC DSM PROGRAM PLANS, BENEFICIAL ELECTRIFICATION PLANS, OR OTHER PLANS THAT REDUCE ENERGY CONSUMPTION OR GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS. EXCEPT AS OTHERWISE PROVIDED IN SUBSECTIONS AND ONE OR MORE OF THE GAS DSM PROGRAMS OR MEASURES, REPRESENTING AN AGGREGATE TOTAL OF AT LEAST TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT OF OVERALL RESIDENTIAL GAS DSM PROGRAM EXPENDITURES, INCLUDING EXPENDITURES SERVING INCOME-QUALIFIED HOUSEHOLDS, MUST be targeted to low-income RESIDENTIAL customers and, if so, may be provided directly by the gas utility or indirectly through financial support of conservation programs for low-income households administered by the state IN NCOME-QUALIFIED HOUSEHOLDS…

TO MEET THE ENERGY SAVINGS TARGETS ESTABLISHED BY THE COMMISSION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THIS SECTION, GAS UTILITIES SHALL CONSIDER INCLUDING INCENTIVES FOR CUSTOMERS TO UTILIZE BEHIND-THE-METER THERMAL RENEWABLE SOURCES. THE COMMISSION SHALL NOT PROHIBIT GAS UTILITIES FROM OFFERING PROGRAMS OR INCENTIVES THAT ENCOURAGE CUSTOMERS TO REPLACE GAS-FUELED APPLIANCES WITH EFFICIENT ELECTRIC APPLIANCES.

IN THE BASE CASE ANALYSIS OF COST EFFECTIVENESS AS DESCRIBED IN SECTION 40-1-102 (5)(b), the commission shall apply a THE SOCIAL cost of carbon dioxide AND THE SOCIAL COST OF METHANE emissions to the nonenergy benefits BENEFIT-COST CALCULATION for programs that are defined to be ENERGY EFFICIENCY OR beneficial electrification PROGRAMS OR THAT INCORPORATE BEHIND-THE-METER THERMAL RENEWABLE SOURCES…BEGINNING ON THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS SECTION, THE COMMISSION SHALL USE A SOCIAL COST OF METHANE OF NOT LESS THAN ONE THOUSAND NINETY DOLLARS PER SHORT TON.  (This bill will have a fiscal note and GHGs emissions document and links to them will be posted as soon as they are).

✅ CCLC POSITION: SUPPORT. STATUS: Will be heard by House Energy and Environment Committee on 04/28 at 10am.

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. SPONSORS: Reps Hooton/Kipp, Sen Donovan | SUMMARY: The bill concerns the concept of “community choice energy” (CCE), under which a community, or group of communities, may choose to purchase their electricity from a wholesale supplier other than the local investor-owned electric utility. The bill declares that CCE has the potential to enable communities to meet their renewable energy goals and to reduce their electricity rates by allowing wholesale competition and local control over the energy supplier and energy mix without changing the local utility’s current status as sole supplier of electric transmission, distribution, billing, and customer service functions.

To lay the groundwork for evaluating the potential adoption of CCE in Colorado, the bill proposes an investigatory proceeding at the public utilities commission that would invite testimony and documentation from interested stakeholders, utilities, the public, invited subject-matter experts, and persons with firsthand knowledge of CCE operations, including regulators from states in which CCE has been implemented. The bill directs the commission to submit a report summarizing the investigatory proceeding to the legislative committees with jurisdiction over energy matters by December 15, 2022. | CCE Fact Sheet.

✅ CCLC POSITION: SUPPORT

Rationale: We supported this bill last year and membership (particularly Larry Milosevich) was instrumental in its drafting. We need to study whether separating supply from delivery will maximize meeting utility GHGs emissions reduction goals and apply pressure to upgrade goals across the electricity sector. Quoting from the Fact Sheet: CCE is a promising energy policy that merits serious study to see if it is indeed worth pursuing. Dozens of Colorado communities, representing more than a million people, have ambitious renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals, but no practical way to achieve them. CCE offers a possible path forward for these communities, and they deserve a serious evaluation of this approach. Competition and community choice should increase efficiency and innovation in our wholesale electricity system, and thereby drive down costs. Let’s study it and figure out the details. There is little downside, much potential upside, and very low risk to studying CCE. This link provides a number of documents supplied by Sponsor Hooton to address the bill in more detail: Study Overview, Presentation, FAQ, Community Memo, and the LCS (Legislative Council Staff) Memo providing an educational overviewSTATUS: House E&E hearing 04/29 1:30p

HB21-1189 | Regulate Air Toxics | Concerning additional public health protections in relation to the emission of air toxics. SPONSORS: Reps Benavidez/A. Valdez, Sens Gonzales/Moreno | SUMMARY: The bill expands upon the requirements applicable to covered facilities by:

  • Directing the air quality control commission to consider, at least every 5 years, adding new types of covered air toxics and adjusting the applicable emission thresholds;
  • Requiring that a covered facility’s outreach to communities near the covered facility, in particular disproportionately impacted communities, be conducted in the 2 most prevalent languages spoken in the communities;
  • Requiring covered facilities to conduct fenceline monitoring of covered air toxics and to publicly report the results of the monitoring; and
  • Requiring covered facilities to take corrective action within 15 days after a violation occurs.

The bill also requires the division of administration in the department of public health and environment to conduct community-based monitoring of covered air toxics in areas near covered facilities and to publicly report the results.

✅ CCLC POSITION: SUPPORT.

Rationale: We supported this bill last year. We need fence line monitoring of the 4 facilities this bill will address, each of which produce nearly 1M TPY of pollution.  These are hazardous chemicals—specifically hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen sulfide, and benzene—that deserve to be closely monitored and have releases reported to the public.  It holds polluters accountable for their emissions and sets a precedent for continuous air quality monitoring and reporting which, if passed, can be expanded to cover other facilities in the state that emit Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs). Status: Passed E&E Amended, will next be heard by House Finance Committee.

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. SPONSORS: Story.

✅ CCLC POSITION: SUPPORT.

Rationale: This is a critical bill for inspecting gas gathering lines that move product via pipelines from well pads to processing stations and from processing stations to transmission. Thousands and thousands of miles of pipelines are not being inspected by the Feds, the PUC, or the COGCC—which only inspects flow lines on a well pad.  As a result the volume of leaking methane is unknown. The bill directs the PUC to expand its gas pipeline safety rules to address operator qualifications, annual reporting requirements, abandoned gas pipelines, and pipeline damage enforcement in order to clarify and expand its duties concerning gas pipeline safety. The bill also increases the maximum penalty for violating gas pipeline safety rules from $100,000 per violation to $200,000, and increases the aggregate total from $1 million to $2 million. | Status: Senate T&E held over for amendments and action only.

HB21-1246 | PERA Public Employees’ Retirement Association Divestment From Fossil Fuel Companies | Concerning divestment action by the public employees’ retirement association against companies financially involved with fossil fuel companies. SPONSORS: Rep Sirota/Sen Jaquez-Lewis SUMMARY: Beginning one year after the effective date of the bill, the board is required to: Divest the funds managed by PERA (fund) of any stocks, securities, equities, assets, or other obligations of companies on the exclusion list in which any money or assets of the fund are directly invested; and cease new direct investments of any money or assets of the fund in any stocks, securities, or other obligations of any company that is a fossil fuel company. The board is required to complete divestment from fossil fuel companies by a specified date. Beginning one year after the effective date of the bill, the board is required to endeavor to ensure that no money or assets of the fund are invested in an indirect investment vehicle unless the board is satisfied that such indirect investment vehicle is unlikely to have in excess of 2% of its assets directly or indirectly invested in fossil fuel companies.

✅ CCLC POSITION: SUPPORT

Rationale: CCLC has endorsed this position previously, and has supported 350Colorado in its drafting.  We cannot end fossil fuels extraction without starving it of the funds it needs to continue its Ponzi scheme. Public employees do not deserve to have their retirement benefits suffer from poor investment in a dying industry. 350Colorado Fact Sheet here. For a glimpse at the problem, see here. STATUS: Indefinitely postponed in House Finance Hearing on 04/19.

SB21-161 | Voluntary Reduce Greenhouse Gas Natural Gas Utility | Concerning adoption by the public utilities commission of programs for the voluntary reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by natural gas utilities. SPONSORS: Sens Hansen/Coram, Rep Arndt | SUMMARY: The bill requires the public utilities commission (PUC) to adopt by rule, no later than July 31, 2022, greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction programs (reduction programs) for large natural gas utilities (those that have at least 250,000 customer accounts in Colorado) and small natural gas utilities (those that have fewer than 250,000 customer accounts in Colorado) (collectively, utilities). Municipally owned utilities may, but need not, participate in a reduction program. The rules must include reporting requirements and a process for utilities to fully recover qualified investments, which are prudently incurred costs associated with a reduction program.

The bill establishes the following GHG emission reduction targets, using a utility’s 2019 GHG emissions as a baseline:

  • By January 1, 2025, at least 5%;
  • By January 1, 2030, at least 10%; and
  • On and after January 1, 2035, at least 15%.

GHG emission reductions from the delivery of natural gas to other utilities and transportation sector retail customers are excluded from the reduction programs. The following sources of GHG emission reductions are included in the reduction programs:

  • Methane leaked from the transportation and delivery of natural gas from natural gas distribution and service pipelines; and
  • Carbon dioxide emitted by the utility’s retail customers (other than those in the transportation sector) as a result of the combustion of natural gas delivered by the utility.

GHG emission reductions can be achieved by:

  • Using renewable natural gas, which must account for at least 35% of the emission reductions;
  • Emission offsets;
  • Methane emission reductions from a variety of mechanisms; and
  • Other programs developed by the utility and approved by the PUC that demonstrate GHG emission reductions. 

MORE IN SUMMARY/BILL TEXT.

✅ CCLC POSITION: OPPOSE

Rationale: High potential for greenwashing continued reliance of fracked gas. Renewable methane sources include crops, manure, and municipal waste. Much of the program will probably go towards remediation of leaking methane from shuttered coal mines.  In many cases these sources are far from gas pipelines, and therefore the gas will end up being captured and burned for electricity on-site, with credits going to the gas utilities even though customers never see those specific molecules in the pipelines. There is nothing “renewable” about coal mining methane, but it does need to be captured somehow. By lumping it in with true “renewable methane” the program is made palatable to the public. The bill as proposed doesn’t seem to help wean us off of fracked gas. Status: Postponed indefinitely by Senate Transportation and Energy Committee on 4/20.

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. SPONSORS: Sen Kirkmeyer |

✅ CCLC POSITION: OPPOSE

Rationale: Designed to thwart state regulations by enshrining local control for O&G-heavy counties/cities.  Intended to allow building new schools nearer than 2,000’ from existing wells, with a specific exception for fewer feet if the well has been plugged. A plugged well is not a safe well, needless to say. We fought long and hard to establish minimum setbacks from homes/schools just last year, and this bill attempts to allow local ordnance to supersede the state.  The bill was amended in committee to ensure a minimum of 2000’ setback from wells for any newly constructed public school and to remove P&A’d wells from the exemptions.!

Status: Failed on Senate Floor

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

✅ CCLC POSITION: OPPOSE.

Rationale: Intended to stifle or prevent public participation. Requires hiring consultants and legal staff, hold public meetings and provide thorough economic impact analysis just to offer an alternate proposal to a rule. Written by dirty energy lawyers to prevent CCLC member orgs from offering improved approaches to a rule or rules. This is a ‘message’ bill designed to pit O&G and RE Developers against local land use/zoning and against public health & safety. Status: Status: Failed in Senate Transportation and Energy Committee.

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. | SPONSORS: Rankin | SUMMARY: (In part) If the executive director determines that the proposed rule would likely have materially disparate effects on different regions of the state, the agency must include in the cost-benefit analysis a determination of the anticipated benefits, costs, and adverse effects of the proposed rule on different regions of the state; If the executive director determines that the proposed rule would have a negative economic or noneconomic impact, the executive director shall inform the public by either making a public presentation about the negative impact and any counterbalancing positive impact at the rule-making hearing or publishing a written report summarizing the impacts; The executive director, upon request of any party to the rule-making or member of the general assembly or upon the executive director’s own motion, may require an agency to update a cost-benefit analysis to reflect material changes made to the proposed or adopted rule either before, during, or after the rule-making hearing; A member of the general assembly, no earlier than one year after a rule has been adopted, may request that the adopting agency conduct a cost-benefit analysis regarding the rule’s implementation; more…

✅ CCLC POSITION: OPPOSE

Rationale: The requirement to note negative impacts on Rest-of-State is a poison pill for statewide emissions reductions goals.  This bill applies to PUC, CDPHE, and COGCC which hamstrings all of our regulatory bodies.  It would be a better bill if it also had a requirement for benefits such as applying a social cost of carbon and/or public health consequences but it doesn’t—just negative impacts. It’s designed to prevent our ability to implement the requirements of 1261 by attempted to segregate the Front Range from the rest of the state.  Status: Failed in Committee.

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. SPONSORS: Rep. D. Woog |

✅ CCLC POSITION: OPPOSE

Rationale: The bill invalidates any statute or local ordnance that prohibits the installation in a new or existing home or business any system or appliance that uses natural gas or propane for cooking, hot water, space heating, or electrical generation, thus forestalling beneficial electrification and local land use/development enacted by a municipality. The language is vague enough that a developer seeking a no-gas subdivision could be required by a buyer to install gas. This inherently requires housing expansion to plan for/install/maintain gas infrastructure to protect the consumer’s right to choose gas. Status: FAILED in Committee 7-5 |

HB21-1205 | Electric Vehicle Road Usage Equalization Fee | Concerning a road usage equalization fee for plug-in electric motor vehicles. | SPONSORS: Rep Pico | SUMMARY: The bill requires a road usage equalization fee (equalization fee) to be imposed at the time of annual registration on each plug-in electric motor vehicle that is required to be registered in the state. The fee is set in an amount that is estimated to achieve parity between the aggregate amount of motor vehicle registration fees and motor fuel excise taxes paid per vehicle by owners of plug-in electric motor vehicles and vehicles fueled by gasoline, diesel, or other special fuels and is annually adjusted for inflation.

✅ CCLC POSITION: OPPOSE

Rationale: This bill attempts to preempt the forthcoming transportation bill being readied by Senator Faith Winter, which will increase fees for both ICE vehicles and EVs. This bill forms a working group of CDOT/DOR people which is tasked to report back in 2022.  The proceeds are for existing road maintenance only. This bill attempts to define parity in what ICE users pay for gas taxes which disincentives new EV purchases, and entirely ignores the fees paid to charge EVs.  This is a punitive bill that targets only EVs, rather than targeting the transportation sector as a whole. This bill actually penalized EV buyers, because if it passes they will have to pay for both charging fees AND gas taxes, which will inhibit the HB1261 goal of 940,000 EVs in CO by 2030.  Status: Failed in committee.

PARTICIPATION: All hearing participation can be remote, using the free app WebEx – https://cart.webex.com/sign-up-webex.  Create an account, as you would with Zoom, the download the app to your computer and/or download it for your phone. If you want to testify on any bill, here’s the link to register:  https://www2.leg.state.co.us/CLICS/CLICS2021A/commsumm.nsf/signIn.xsp For additional information on testifying before a committee of the Colorado General Assembly, please read the memorandum found here. Also, the draft policies regarding remote testimony for the 2021 Regular Session may be found here