A Senate committee debated a bill Wednesday (4/18/18) to take away Gov. John Hickenlooper’s ability to keep Colorado in line with the Paris  accord, the multi-nation agreement to address climate change.  [The CCLC was there to poke fun at the effort.]

When President Trump made that call to pull the U.S. out last year, Hickenlooper signed an executive order to say Colorado would join the U.S. Climate Alliance.

Republican Sens. John Cooke of Greeley and Kevin Lundberg of Berthoud said the governor doesn’t have the constitutional authority to enter into such agreements, and Senate Bill 226 seeks to reign in his climate request.

Lundberg said the bill is about telling Hickenlooper “this is not your authority and you need to back off.”

No one from the governor’s office testified on the bill or had a comment about it immediately after the hearing.

The legislation passed the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee on a 6-5 party-line vote. It goes next to the Senate floor where, if the GOP majority passes it, the bill would go to the Democratic-held House, where it’s dead on arrival.

The hearing, the bill sponsors said, was not about climate change but more about executive authority, but it resulted it a partisan debate on the former more than the latter about whether humans are hearing up the planet.

Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, said solar flares and cats play a role, rather than emissions. She said the climate has been changing for millions of years, not just in the age of emissions from automobiles and industry.

“We’re going to die sometime, and I’m more afraid of sun flares than I am vehicles,” she said of emissions. “And, believe me, I suffer from allergies up the ying-yang, but it’s not the emissions that are coming from the cars, because I live by a highway, it’s from my dang cats.

“My cats cause more problems and more asthma for people than anything else. There are so many causes, and I just wanted to throw that in.”

Marble pointed to a history of scientists who have made differing predictions that have changed over time about the future of the climate, as well as which foods are harmful or helpful.

“The scientists are the standard for many people’s beliefs because  so many things that have come out have been proven false,” she said. “I refuse to be held captive and in fear because of what somebody else believes.”

Democrats on the committee and environmental advocates who testified Wednesday feasted on the proposal and doubts about the consensus of scientific belief around a changing climate.

Amelia Myers, the energy advocate for Conservation Colorado, called the proposal “backwards and shortsighted.”

She spoke of the economic toll a changing climate is taking on Colorado farmers, ski resorts and others.

“It takes our state in the wrong direction to address the economic and environmental impacts of climate change,” Myers said. “It would send the wrong signal to businesses flocking to our state that we no longer want to address the biggest problem facing our long-term viability.”

Sen. Matt Jones of Louisville, the Senate Democrats’ point man, was glad the discussion was brought to the table by Republicans.

“I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to talk about this on the Senate floor,” he said to the Republican majority on the  committee. “I’m all in.”

By Joey Bunch, Colorado Politics

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.