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

CCLC Statement Opposing SB24-230: “Oil and Gas Production Fees”

Posted on May 5th, 2024

The Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate (CCLC) is opposed to bills that perpetuate dependency on the oil and gas sector by funding state and local government programs through fees imposed on oil and gas operators. The next few years are crucial to implementing a path to a sustainable future on a livable planet, and SB24-230 takes Colorado in exactly the wrong direction by tying funding for diesel transit to oil & gas production fees.

In the scientific community, there is certainty that climate change is the existential threat of our lives and that of many generations to come, and there is no doubt that it is caused by the burning of oil and gas. Colorado, as the 4th largest oil producer and 7th largest gas producer in the nation has a special responsibility to address our contribution to this crisis, and to the harms it causes to our residents.

Colorado is already experiencing the devastating impacts of local warming. Western Colorado in particular is a climate hotspot, warming at double the national and global average. How many more life-threatening wildfires, rockslides, flooding, and road collapses must we endure? How long a megadrought are we to bear before Colorado recognizes that continuing to support mitigation strategies that allow continued emissions from the oil and gas is a losing strategy?

Expanding clean transit service is certainly a laudable goal that the legislature and citizens have supported year after year. But addressing traffic pollution by expanding the use of diesel trains and buses is no solution. As a leading producer of dirty fuels, it is incumbent upon us to begin to wean ourselves off these destructive products and move our economy to a clean energy future with cleaner air and better health outcomes.

Yet, SB24-230 ties oil & gas revenue to mass transit and wildlife habitat resiliency and restoration. With this bill Colorado is committing itself to a future of continued development of these destructive resources for the foreseeable future. Our local and state government budgets and programs are already overly dependent on oil and gas revenues. This dependency—perceived or actual—on dirty energy production has been consistently used as justification to reject stricter regulation of the industry and justify continued permitting of new oil and gas projects. Instead of creating yet another insidious budgetary dependency on oil and gas production, legislative efforts should be underway to reduce this dependency or addiction. 

When including the 20-year global warming factor of methane, and the damaging impacts of ozone formation caused by volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen, oil and gas development is far and away the number one contributor to environmental damage in our state, and this marriage of mass transit with fossil energy is bad for our people, bad for our state, and bad for the planet. 

This bill was part of Governor Polis’ and Democratic Leadership’s ‘compromise’ legislative package agreed to by a few oil and gas operators and conservation organizations in exchange for withdrawing nearly 20 ballot initiatives from the 2024 election year, killing 4 health and safety bills that targeted the oil and gas industry, and placing a moratorium on legislative efforts to regulate the oil and gas industry and protect the health and safety of Coloradans for the next three years. This compromise is not representative of the interests of the entire industry or environmental community, and primarily funds a commuter train from Denver to Boulder and Fort Collins.

75% of Coloradans know climate change is happening and nearly half of us have personally experienced the effects. Over 60 organizations and thousands of people supported SB24-159 to phase out oil and gas permits by 2030. Colorado produces nearly quadruple the gas, and double the oil that it consumes, exporting the product while saddling us with the pollution and environmental impacts. Boundless production is causing severe air quality issues, making Coloradans sick and accelerating climate change impacts. This isn’t a truce in the oil and gas wars between dirty energy and clean air and healthy communities. It’s a failure of leadership, just as leadership failed in enacting “Clean Air Clean Jobs” and in approving the Pueblo Unit 3 coal plant earlier in this century.

This dirty deal with dirty industry opens up a new vein in the economic lifeblood of Colorado and creates a new and dangerous addiction that is already killing us all. We oppose this dirty deal because we know dealing with it later is too late.

COLORADO COALITION FOR A LIVABLE CLIMATE

Micah Parkin, 350 Colorado

Natasha Leger, Citizens for a Healthy Community

Leslie Glustrom, Clean Energy Action

Jan Rose, Climate Reality Project Denver Chapter

Kevin Cross, Fort Collins Sustainability Group

Nat Miullo, Resilient Denver

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1 Comment

  1. Sue McFaddin

    Good response Kevin and team.

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