Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate

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

Action Alert

Tell the COGCC to protect taxpayers from the unscrupulous Oil & Gas Industry! Testify at the COGCC “Financial Assurances” Rulemaking Hearing.

Times available are:

Thursday, January 20th 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm,

Thursday,  January 20th 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm, and 

Friday, January 21st 9:30 am to 12:00 pm  

Click here to sign up for 2 minutes of public comment

The following is a breakdown of some of the issues at stake in this Rulemaking, along with talking points you can customize for use in your testimony.  The hearing will be on Zoom, so you can testify from the comfort of your home or office. Also attached is our ‘FA Team’ Response to the latest round of Draft Rules for more context.  The points below do not include the fracking pollution, the climate change impacts, the damage to public health, and so on. You all know those issues better than most people in the state. So please feel free to discuss the Commission’s requirement to prioritize Public Health, Safety, Welfare, the Environment, and Wildlife Resources over private profits when you make your statement.

Starting Monday, January 20, the COGCC will begin the hearing to put in place increased Financial Assurances for O&G Operators.  Sounds Great—what’s the problem? They’re not increasing our protection!  Here’s how they’re not:

  • The state has $185M on hand in bonding to plug and reclaim the sites of all the oil and gas wells in the state.  But the average cost to perform plugging and cleanup is $93K each and there are more than 52,000 wells, which means we need $4.8 BILLION to meet just the average obligation. We have a mere $581,917 on hand.

  • The current Orphaned Well Program (OWP) lists 799 sites with 410 wells on them.  We put 5 operators with 200 wells out of business last year—nearly doubling our total count—for not doing the bare minimum required to do business in this state, and that of course left us with all their wells.  That means our current obligations on average amount to over $50M in costs.

  • The COGCC lists more than 10,000 shut-in (SI) or Temporarily Abandoned (TA) wells right now.  How many of those will end up in the OWP?

  • There are more than 25,000 low-producing (Stripper) wells in the state.  How many of them will end up in the OWP?

  • The average life of a horizontal well—before it becomes a stripper well—is 4 years.  How many more wells will become Strippers (leading to Orphans) in the next 5 years?

  • This means there are hundreds if not thousands more abandoned wells in our state that simply haven’t yet been added to the Orphaned Well Program.

  • SB19-181 – the Regulate O&G Bill – requires Operators to meet EVERY financial obligation for its operations, and therefore discourages the use of Blanket Bonds (a single amount to cover all the Operator’s wells in the state) but the COGCC is retaining them at absurdly low rates!

  • The bright spot is the Commission has created a mechanism for full-cost bonding of single wells based on actual plugging and reclamation (cleanup) costs.  But here come the escape clauses:

    • Regardless of the $93K average cost, they can provide one blanket bond of only
  1. $15,000 per Well for less than 50 Wells;
  2. $10,000 ea for more than 50 Wells;
  3. $5,000 ea for more than 150 Wells;
  4. $3,000 ea for more than 1500 Wells; or
  5. $1,500 per Well if the Operator operates more than 4000 Wells;
  6. THIS FORMULA RESULTS IN FEWER BOND AMOUNTS THAN WE HAVE NOW!
  7. And they only have to pay 10% of the amount per year which means we’re just supposed to pray nobody goes bankrupt in the next 10 years.  How likely do you suppose that will be?
  • There are 11 types of ‘used or useful’ wells that operators can employ to change well status so they can avoid plugging them and also avoid paying the higher bond rates required if they have a certain percentage of ‘inactive’ wells! And there are 3 more types of wells that are Out Of Service but still don’t have to be plugged, because maybe—just maybe—they’ll be useful again someday!
    • AND for Inactive, or Transferred wells
  1. Inactive Wells. The Operator’s blanket bond will cover Inactive Wells up to 10% (excluding Out of Service Wells). The Operator must provide Single Well Financial Assurance for any Inactive Well exceeding the 10% threshold
  2. But of course, you can change the well status to one of 14 other types to avoid the 10% threshold
  3. Single Well Financial Assurance is based on the demonstrated plugging and cleanup costs, but that only happens if you don’t put them on a plugging list that can take years to complete
  4. You can transfer them to a new Operator, then the new guy has to provide Single Well Financial Assurance—unless he doesn’t want to—then he can ask for a hearing to determine a lower amount!
  • Are you confused?  That’s the point!
  • Can Operators basically submit a plan for any amount of bond amount they want? YES!
  • Every year we transfer around $4M from the General Fund to pay for the Orphaned Well Program.  This Rulemaking asks Operators to put up $200/well/year to pay for the Fund, for an annual amount of $10M. Last year we spent about $4M and completed plugging and cleanup of a mere 8 projects for that price.  
    • It will take 480 years fund the Program to cover just the wells we have today—and we keep on drilling new ones!
  • The Federal Government requires $25,000 in a blanket bond to cover all the wells on their land in our state, but O&G doesn’t want to pay the state any bond, citing ‘double bonding’.  This is BS! We have 50 Federal Sites on our cleanup list right now, with zero in bonds to cover them, unless we go through a lengthy bureaucratic process to claim about $2,200/well. 
  • We have 318 ‘Active Operators’ who each must submit their own bonding plans every year, but the Commission only meets once a week.  This means the Commission would need to hold 6 hearings/meeting every week in perpetuity.  This is not possible!
  • There is a ‘Single Well Financial Assurance’ requirement but it only kicks in when wells are transferred from one operator to another.  We need EVERY well to be fully bonded to the cost of cleanup.
  • We need every new permit for new wells to include a bond at full cleanup cost for every well on the pad. And we need every new well to be fully bonded.
  • We need every Operator to plug and cleanup at least 1 well in their inventory for every new well they want to drill, preferably 2:1.
  • We need every existing well to be fully bonded, not just the ones that are no longer producing.
  • If an Operator can’t afford to bond their operations then they shouldn’t be allowed to continue business until they can afford it!
  • No new permits for Operators who can’t pay full cost bonds.
  • We need to demand that Operators plug and clean up every inactive well in their inventory, and bond for every active well too!

The O&G Industry is packing the hearings with employees who are given pre-written talking points, most of which have to do with scaring people with threats of bankruptcy, orphaned wells and job losses, and a promise that we can trust them to clean up their mess.  We know better.  We need YOU to counter their puppets with the facts and the truth. 

Click here to sign up for 2-3 minutes of public comment

Action Alert: Demand that Governor Polis Declare a Climate Emergency

The Marshall Fire has shown us that no place is immune from climate-fueled disasters – including Boulder County, Colorado.  It’s time for us to start acting as if the climate crisis requires immediate action – not action ten to thirty years from now.

Please add your name by January 12th to this letter demanding that Governor Polis declare a climate emergency, and that State agencies accelerate Colorado’s efforts to address that emergency.  Colorado should act swiftly to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in line with scientists’ recommendations and Colorado’s own climate goals.  It is essential that we phase out oil and gas production over the present decade and shutter all coal-fired power plants by 2025.  Taking these actions in Colorado, coupled with similar actions across the country and across the world, is the only way to prevent tragedies like the one that struck Boulder County during the last week of 2021 from engulfing civilization.

On January 13th, there will be a “State of the Climate Rally” at 11:00 a.m. across the street from the west steps of the State Capitol to amplify this demand.  For more information and to RSVP, visit this FB page.

CCLC on Need for Climate Emergency Declaration

News release dated January 3rd, 2022

Fort Collins, CO – The Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate (CCLC) expresses its deepest sympathy for all those impacted by the Marshall Fire in Boulder County.  And we applaud the federal government’s recent major disaster declaration, which was facilitated by Governor Polis.

As has been reported by Mike Nelson, Denver7 Chief Meteorologist, two of the of the most important conditions that led to the state’s most expensive fire – record heat and record drought – are part of global climate change.  Boulder County is the latest area to feel the impacts of this unfolding tragedy, which caused intense wildfires, droughts, heat waves, and floods throughout 2021, in places as geographically diverse as the Amazon, Siberia, The Philippines, northwestern North America, and northern Europe.  As long as human beings – particularly those of us in the industrialized world – fail to curb emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, these disasters will continue to multiply.

Last November, the CCLC joined with United for Colorado’s Climate to call on Governor Polis to declare a climate emergency, and to accelerate Colorado’s efforts to address that emergency.  We repeat that call today.  Colorado should act swiftly to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in line with scientists’ recommendations and Colorado’s own climate goals.  It is essential that we phase out oil and gas production over the present decade and shutter all coal-fired power plants by 2025.  Taking these actions in Colorado, coupled with similar actions across the country and across the world, is the only way to prevent tragedies like the one that struck Boulder County last week from engulfing civilization.

###

The Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate (CCLC) develops and advocates strategies for reducing Colorado’s greenhouse gas emissions to levels supportive of a livable climate.  We currently have 39 member organizations located throughout the State of Colorado. Visit our website at https://colivableclimate.org to learn more.

Letter to Governor Polis Demanding a Declaration of a Climate Emergency

Delivered on November 19, 2021

Dear Governor Jared Polis,

We, the undersigned organizations and state leaders, are writing to call for action to address widespread public concern that in the two years since you signed SB 19-181 and HB 19-1261 into law, the situation with regards to oil and gas pollution and the impacts on Colorado communities and the climate crisis has failed to improve as needed. Our regulating bodies have not implemented the changes necessary to protect public health, safety, the environment and wildlife from the dangers of oil and gas development as the legislature intended and the public expected. The pollution resulting from this failure of implementation is significantly contributing to our severe F-grade air quality issues and the climate crisis.

We call upon your commitment to climate action. In a recent interview, you said that your administration has essentially declared a climate emergency, and we acknowledge with appreciation all of the groundbreaking bills you have signed into law. We are writing because recent developments detailed below demonstrate the need for even stronger oversight over agencies, and direct executive action.

Oil and gas production is one of the major contributors to ozone pollution.[1] In August 2021 Denver experienced the worst air quality in the world,[2] putting children and vulnerable populations at risk. We are profoundly disappointed by the recent COGCC action that demonstrates a lack of change: the Commission unanimously approved new Oil and Gas Development Plan applications on September 1, 2021 that were not in line with the SB19 -181 mandate to protect public health, safety, welfare and the environment. The adjudication process did not provide due process to all stakeholders. The applications demonstrated disregard for wildlife and biological resources, as evidenced by the fact that noise and light pollution effect on wildlife was completely ignored. There was also little consideration of the potential financial risk and liability to taxpayers: financial analyses of the applicants did not appear in any of the docket materials. This is especially an issue since the rate of oil and gas bankruptcies is increasing and the Financial Assurance rules have not yet been updated as required by law.

This is but one example of an ongoing pattern. Elected officials have passed laws such as SB19-181, HB19-1261 and HB21-1266, which are intended to protect the public, reduce pollution in ozone non-attainment areas, and protect disproportionately impacted communities from the adverse impacts of oil and gas development, but both the COGCC and the CDPHE are ineffective in putting the laws into action: they are failing to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and associated pollution that are exacerbating our air quality and climate crisis. Despite the statutory mandate, the historical status quo of giving the wishes of industry more weight than environmental experts and disproportionately impacted communities has continued. Of note in the APCD are the whistleblower allegations of industry influence upon permits, since confirmed by multiple additional staff members as reported in Colorado Newsline,[3] and in the COGCC the failure of COGCC to bring in external environmental or public health presentations into their hearings, instead hearing only from staff and industry.

Even health considerations that have been addressed in the new rules are in jeopardy. In response to SB-181, COGCC created an important rule for 2000-foot setbacks, but the rule allows for six separate opportunities for variances. Several permits are being considered now with variances less than 2,000 for occupied residences, a fact that is of great concern for public health. We request that you require the COGCC not to approve variances for such an important health matter, as peer reviewed studies show acute exposure risks still exist at 2000 feet[4].

Furthermore, COGCC does not appear to be evaluating and addressing the potential cumulative impacts of oil and gas development in consultation with CDPHE as required by law in C.R.S. § 34-60-106(11)(c)(II). If they are indeed consulting with CDPHE about this, they should provide a report to your office and the legislature that is publicly available. As far as the public record shows, the COGCC had one joint meeting with the AQCC of the CDPHE on March 18, 2021, in which Commissioners from both agencies made it clear their work was just barely beginning, and they did not yet know how they were going to collaborate. We are put in danger by the bystander effect, in which everyone stands by waiting for and assuming someone else will take action. Neither agency is leading on this, and drilling and air pollution permits continue to be granted in disproportionately impacted communities and ozone nonattainment areas. This persists in the face of reports detailing that fossil fuel air pollution is responsible for 1 in 5 deaths worldwide[5], and that new oil and gas production must stop[6] for the world to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, and avoid a catastrophic future.

In addressing cumulative impacts in disproportionately impacted (DI) communities and ozone nonattainment areas, the AQCC is focussing rulemaking on requiring permits at lower thresholds of pollution and requiring more frequent inspections. This may encourage better oversight and better compliance with the rules, but it does not change the fact that there are too many facilities in these areas–whether or not they are in compliance individually–and the problem will continue unless we not only stop approving new facilities, but also actually start reducing them. State regulators need to stop permitting immediately until reports to your office can be produced by both the COGCC and the CDPHE, detailing their collaboration, and the meaningful steps they are taking to reduce cumulative impacts of pollution in DI communities and ozone nonattainment areas. We cannot improve air quality in those areas by increasing operations, and COGCC and CDPHE are required by law to work on cumulative emissions together.

Climate change is a cumulative impact that has not been addressed at all in the COGCC hearings, except in 2-minute long impassioned public comment. We have seen no presentations about climate change, the impacts it is already having on our state, and the enormous impact of emissions from oil and gas production. We have seen no action in the COGCC on addressing the climate crisis and little lip service. As detailed in the most recent IPCC report, burning fossil fuels is the cause of climate change, the greatest threat to public health that humans have ever faced. When exported oil and gas life-cycle emissions are included, the oil and gas sector is responsible for approximately 70% of Colorado’s GHG emissions. (In fact, exported oil and gas life-cycle emissions are 120% of Colorado’s GHG emissions from all sectors combined.) New drilling should stop immediately, following the IEA recommendation cited above, and all fossil fuel production should be phased out by 2030.

Additionally, we recognize the need to reduce emissions in all sectors of the economy in order to meet our climate responsibilities. The targets for clean electricity generation are not stringent enough to meet our 2025 and 2030 goals. Our regulating bodies must also ensure a rapid transition to clean renewable electricity generation to power transport, building heating and industry to meet the climate goals per HB 19-1261.

The future of our children depends on us, and they know it. A new international study shows that even stronger than young people’s anxiety about climate change is their anxiety about government inaction[7].Climate change is a true emergency, the biggest emergency in human history, and it requires an immediate, strong and bold response.

We respectfully call upon you as Governor to take the following actions to provide relief and protect Coloradans:

  1. Issue an executive order declaring a climate emergency, which will require a moratorium on the issuance of all new oil and gas permits and applications for transfer of ownership, and place a hold on current applications for oil and gas permits and current applications for transfer of ownership, pending further public health, safety, welfare, environment, and wildlife resources review, which must include a cumulative impacts analysis for each application.
  2. Issue an executive order requiring the COGCC and CDPHE to develop a policy approach for phasing out oil and gas production in Colorado by 2030.
  3. Issue an executive order pausing any application for variances/waivers for the 2000-foot setback adopted by the COGCC during the Mission Change Rulemaking in November 2020.
  4. Issue an executive order requiring electric sector GHG emissions reductions of 80% by 2025 compared to 2005, closure of all coal-fired electric generation plants by 2025, and

electric sector GHG emissions reduction of 98% by 2030 compared to 2005, to be accomplished in a manner that will promote equity, competition, and the electrification of transport, building heating, and industry.

  1. Issue an executive order requiring CDPHE and COGCC to issue a joint report on their plan to address cumulative emissions, as required by SB19-181.  Their plan should be submitted by December 31, and should include specific actions by each agency to
    1. deny permits for new operations in DI communities and ozone nonattainment areas,
    2. monitor GHG emissions and toxic pollution at all polluting sites as well as by periodic aerial flyovers and/or satellites and making this information available online in real time to the public,
    3. adopt state standards for dangerous pollution such as benzene and developing effective and immediate public warning systems and a shut down of operations when monitoring shows that these standards are being exceeded,
    4. require operators to submit environmental impact statements that include the social cost of carbon, including emissions during production and end-use burning of these fossil fuels, and
    5. Require  all regulatory bodies to prioritize public health, safety and the environment by rejecting any and all permit applications that do not align with our state’s climate and clean air goals or efforts to bring our air quality into compliance.

We would appreciate a timely response to this letter regarding your intentions to address these concerns.

Sincerely,

350 CO

Adams County Communities for Drilling Accountability Now

Be The Change

Broomfield CAN

Broomfield Concerned: A Coalition of Neighbors

Broomfield Health and Safety First

Center for Biological Diversity

Clean Energy Action

Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate

Colorado Rising

Denver Metro Climate Reality

Erie Protectors

Indivisible Colorado

Indivisible Colorado Environment

Indivisible Front Range Resistance

Mothers Out Front

Larimer Alliance

Northern Colorado Community Rights Network

Our Revolution Metro Denver

Rapid Shift Network

Resilient Denver

Sierra Club

Together Against Neighborhood Drilling

Wall of Women

Weld Air and Water


[1] https://coloradosun.com/2021/06/07/ozone-pollution-health-climate-change-epa-colorado/

[2] https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2021/08/denver-records-worst-air-quality-world-wildfires.html

[3]https://coloradonewsline.com/2021/09/23/smokescreen-whistleblower-complaints-favoring-polluters-air-agency/

[4] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10962247.2019.1680459?journalCode=uawm20

[5]https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/c-change/news/fossil-fuel-air-pollution-responsible-for-1-in-5-deaths-worldwide/ and https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0013935121000487

[6]https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/may/18/no-new-investment-in-fossil-fuels-demands-top-energy-economist

[7] https://news.trust.org/item/20210914091125-w7v5d/

Learn How to Advocate Effectively for Climate Solutions

A recent survey found that 72% of people across the world are worried about the impacts of climate change. Here are 350 Colorado, we are too. But the good news is that when ordinary people bind together in a powerful grassroots movement, we are afforded the ability to drive tremendous positive change and create a future we would be proud to leave to our children and grandchildren. We hope you’ll join us.

If you’re worried about climate change too, and you’re ready to step up and use your voice to advocate for a liveable future, please join us on Saturday, November 20th from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm for 350 Colorado’s ‘Intro to Legislative Advocacy‘ workshop. At this workshop, we will provide you with everything you need to know to become a powerful force for change. No prior knowledge or experience with legislative advocacy is necessary.

See the Facebook Event for more details about our ‘Intro to Legislative Advocacy Fall Workshop’ and to help spread the word. 

When: Saturday, November 20th, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Where: Remote – Register for the Zoom workshop here

This spring, our state elected officials will be busy making new laws – some of which will be good for the climate, and others that may risk slowing down or even reversing progress. During the legislative session this spring, it will be important that people like you and me reach out to our legislators and make it loud and clear that we’re in a climate emergency, and anything short of the bold progress we need isn’t acceptable.

At our workshop, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the Colorado State Legislature, how a bill becomes a law, and how you can advocate for climate solutions at the Capitol this spring. You’ll even hear from Representative Edie Hooton from Colorado’s House District 10 about how to make your climate advocacy as effective as possible

We hope to see you there!    Thank you in advance for stepping up to this moment in time. It will take all of us to build the prosperous, low carbon future we know is possible.

Tell CDOT to do its Part to Reduce GHG Pollution

Much of of our pollution comes from vehicles and transportation is one of the biggest areas of spending. Given the urgency of the climate crisis and the 26% pollution reduction promised to all Coloradans by 2025 and 50% by 2030, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) should only be making investments that help achieve this and that do not prevent it from being accomplished.

Please ask that this important element be included in CDOT’s GHG Pollution Strategy. We support CDOT’s progress in making such a proposal, but it needs to be implemented much earlier and with the sidebar above. CDOT’s current transportation plans and programs be re-opened. Register here (closes at 11am on Nov. 9). The final hearing will be held on November 10 at 3pm. You can also send your own comments to dot_rules@state.co.us before 5:00 pm. on November 19, 2021. Feel free to re-use or modify this letter and any appendices as well.

There is a huge equity aspect both with the spending and the air pollution from continuing to direct the bulk of spending on highway widenings and until we stop adding pollution and increasing our dependence on one mode in this way, we will continue to have problems. The non-driving 30% or so of the population is underserved and over-impacted by pollution, access, and more. And the cleanest, most affordable and cost-effective transportation systems, serving all Coloradans, not just drivers, remain to be built out. Think Bustang for all communities, or research (Dill, 2013) findings that protected bikeways could be built out for a whole city for the same cost as 1 mile of 4 lane highway. Yet CO even diverted COVID funds to highway widenings and lane additions, which add pollution and cars on the road by years 5-10, on a 1:1 basis with the extra space. And roads are just 43% covered by transportation related fees such as the gas tax.

Public funds, including transportation funds need to more equitably serve all people and all modes, also enabling cleaner and more cost-effective modes like active transportation and transit to be safer, more viable and comprehensively available. Most of all, transportation funding needs to be shifted to build out clean, non-auto systems in the upcoming planning periods.

All Colorado agencies, including our biggest GHG sources and biggest public expenditures, must carry the load to reduce GHG by 26% by 2025 and 50% by 2030! Current state policy is not at all on track to reach this.

Tell the COGCC to Pause Permits for New Oil and Gas Wells

On September 1st, a coalition of 30 health, environmental, climate and community groups called on Jared Polis’ Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to protect Coloradans and pause permitting until new financial assurance rules can be adopted.  Please add your voice by sending a short e-mail to the commissioners to let them know you also want them to pause new permits and transfers.

The coalition letter, which was signed by the CCLC, is available here.  COGCC Commissioner e-addresses are:

Points you might include in your e-mail are:

  • The Commission increased the amount of time that oil and gas companies are allowed to operate in the state without sufficient financial assurances, thereby increasing the risk to Colorado taxpayers.
  • According to the think tank Carbon Tracker, Colorado taxpayers could be on the hook for over $8 billion in liabilities without appropriate financial assurances for oil and gas wells. This delay increases the risk of Colorado falling off a financial cliff if permitting and transfers continue before appropriate financial assurances are in place.
  • The delay in the rulemaking gives a three month advantage to oil and gas companies to allow them to restructure and transfer assets. This advantage helps the bottom line for the oil and gas executives but not Colorado taxpayers.
  • The COGCC needs to put the people of Colorado, its communities and its taxpayer dollars first while developing financial assurance regulations that hold oil and gas companies accountable for the true cost of their mess.

For more background, here’s a great Colorado Sun article about the importance of the financial assurances rulemaking and a  Colorado Times Recorder opinion piece from Ramón Cruz, Sierra Club president. Read and share widely!

Action Alert: Ask Congress to Support a Strong Build Back Better Budget

When Congress returns from its recess in September, it will resume work on the “Build Back Better Budget.” It’s important that this budget include the investments needed to both to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis.  Please send a short letter to Colorado’s Congressional Delegation to make sure they receive this message.

Please write to Senator Michael Bennet, Senator John Hickenlooper, and your representative (see list here) asking them to support a strong “Build Back Better Budget.”  A sample e-message is provided below; please personalize if you have time.  If you don’t have time, just copy, paste, add the appropriate names, and send.

Dear Senator/Representative XXX:

Please support a Build Back Better Budget when you return from your August recess that addresses the climate crisis at the scale required.  The science has never been clearer that time is running out to avert the worst harms of climate breakdown.  Drought, wildfires, torrential downpours, heat waves and other extreme weather is battering communities from Arizona to Michigan to Florida, wreaking havoc in rural communities, cities and everywhere between.  We must act now with a climate budget that invests in our future.

The Build Back Better Budget must make bold, ambitious investments in the following areas:

  • A plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants by at least 80%.  The Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate (CCLC) has called for 98% greenhouse gas pollution reductions from Colorado’s utility sector by 2030.
  • A gradual phase-out of oil and gas production over the coming decade.  The CCLC has called for 10% per year reductions in greenhouse gas emissions for a full phase-out of oil and gas production in Colorado by 2030.  People employed in the oil and gas sector can be put to work shutting down wells as production declines.
  • More clean energy jobs and a civilian climate corps to provide good jobs addressing the climate crisis to everyone who wishes to work in this area.
  • Retrofitting homes and schools to be energy efficient.
  • Affordable public transit.
  • Tax credits that expand the electric vehicle market and boost manufacturing of electric cars, trucks and buses
  • Charging stations and EV infrastructure

Additionally, the Build Back Better Budget should include a carbon fee and dividend to discourage the use of fossil fuels and return a portion of receipts to citizens and U.S. residents. 

The climate crisis and environmental injustice have been ignored for far too long.  This is no time for half-measures; we must act boldly now.  Please do everything you can to pass a strong Build Back Better Budget.

Sincerely,

Your Name

2021 Colorado Climate/ Energy/ Environmental Legislation Summary

By Jan Rose, CCLC Spokesperson and Legislative Maven

Posted on June 16th 2021

Without question, this has been the most consequential session of the General Assembly for climate change legislation in history, with 53 bills introduced!  Nearly all the bills we supported passed, and the vast majority of bills we opposed failed.

There were 628 bills introduced this session and 502 of them were sent to the Governor’s desk. That’s a truly historic level of productivity and each and every legislator deserves our thanks and our respect for managing such an enormous agenda in a mere 116 days.

Now, turning to climate legislation, following is the summary of legislation for the entire session.  Bills that passed are presented first and organized by category, and bills that failed are presented at the end for your information.  Bullets are provided to note content and amendments as warranted but are by no means the definitive explanation of the contents of any given bill.

The river that runs through it is the consistent use of the social costs of pollution in climate legislation, be they CO2, carbon-equivalent (CO2e), methane, or GHGs in general.  Those inclusions are historic achievements for our state and our nation, and set Colorado on a course to teach the whole country a thing or two about managing climate change. Additionally, this was the year we tackled emissions from the Built Environment (buildings) with millions of dollars dedicated to weatherization and conversion from natural gas as the consumer chooses, as well as performance standards for large buildings and the implementation of distributed solar generation.

But, as we all know, ’It’s all about the Benjamins’ and we can’t tell you how disappointing it is that the results of climate change received far more funding than addressing the CAUSE of climate change!  Wildfire mitigation alone got more than FIVE TIMES the amount that climate change adaptation and mitigation received and we had historic levels of funds available this year—as if a money tree shook off all its leaves and then died before we could fertilize it.  The state had an historic $34B budget, $800M in one-time money that must be spent, and $3.8B from the feds, and all we got was this lousy ‘keep it in the ground’ t-shirt.

Nonetheless, there is a smorgasbord—a veritable feast—of climate legislation we got through the House and Senate this year, so we present to you all, this year’s SUMMARY OF CLIMATE LEGISLATION

Note that bill names appended by !!! Indicate bills endorsed by CCLC.

2021 Climate/Energy/Environmental legislation

Utilities

SB21-272 | Measures To Modernize The Public Utilities Commission !!! | Concerning the operations of the public utilities commission, and, in connection therewith, modernizing the commission’s statutory directives regarding distributed generation of electricity

  • Provides access to outside experts while limiting conflicts of interest
    • Requires rules for retiring RECs
    • Amended out the ability to establish community solar net metering credits
    • Requires resource plans to include social cost of carbon and CO2e in net present value of revenue requirements

 SB21-261 | Public Utilities Commission Encourage Renewable Energy Generation !!! | Concerning measures to increase the deployment of renewable energy generation facilities to meet Colorado’s energy needs, and, in connection therewith, raising the allowable capacity of customer-sited renewable energy generation facilities from 120% of historic usage to 200%, and giving customers additional options for increasing the scale and flexibility of new installations.

  • Includes master meter operators allowing resale of solar energy on- or off-site
    • Enables multi-family/tenant buildings to share in solar roofs
    • Requires new installs to be GHGs emissions neutral
    • Allows for donations of excess solar produced (eg to LIHEAP)
    • Requires annual offers to install net meters for solar installations
    • Amended to include up to 10MW existing biomass as GHG neutral
    • Amends for max size of 500KW; off site no more than 200KW

SB21-264 | Adopt Programs Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions Utilities !!! | Concerning the adoption of programs by gas utilities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Was SB21-161 that Chris Hansen killed to reintroduce this version

  • Became a ‘strike below’ (delete everything but the title and rewrite the bill) AGAIN as Amendment L002
    • The R Co-Sponsor voted against his own bill in committee (cue to L002) and removed himself from the bill on the Senate Floor before final vote.
    • Encourages methane capture from coal mines, landfills, dairy farms, biomass
    • Includes both green (100% clean power sources) and blue (created using fracked gas for power) hydrogen projects and allows mixing of captured methane with extracted methane.
    • Creates Clean Heat Plans that will reduce methane GHGs by 7.5% by 2025 from 2015 levels, of which 1% must be recovered methane, and 22% by 2030 of which 5% must be recovered methane
      • Amended to reduce 7.5% to 6%, 1% to 2%, and 5% to 6%
      • Muni utilities are given more time and drop their reductions to 4% of which 1% recovered by 2030; and small utilities don’t have to meet the percentage reductions but do have to file a Clean Heat Plan
      • Allows fixed leaks from wholesalers, retailers, pipelines and transportation, and consumer combustion to qualify for the ‘recovered methane’ criteria,
      • Allows DSM and BE (Beneficial Electrification) plans to qualify as methane reductions under the Clean Heat Plan
    • Applies to any utility with 90K customers
    • Requires social cost of carbon and social cost of methane except that methane must be calculated on a 100-year scale
    • Can’t raise the ratepayers gas bill by more than 2.5%

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.

  • Added amendments for union labor and DI Communities

 SB21-072 | Public Utilities Commission Modernize Electric Transmission Infrastructure !!! | …creating the Colorado electric transmission authority, requiring transmission utilities to join regional transmission organizations, and allowing additional classes of transmission utilities to obtain revenue through the colocation of broadband facilities within their existing rights-of-way.

  • Amendment L002 defines the makeup of CETA and bonding for its projects.
    • Establishes labor standards and the role of local governments in land use decisions, includes environmental protections,
    • Revised the response time of the PUC from 180 days to 240 days (thanks to Leslie G!)
    • Clarify that CETA cannot be used to delay or avoid Clean Energy Plans
    • Amendment L033 allows for collection of up to 35% Net Present Value Savings for the first 2 years, 25% in year 3 and 20% in years 4 and 5

HB21-1324 | Promote Innovative And Clean Energy Technologies | Concerning measures to facilitate the use of innovative energy technologies by investor-owned utilities in Colorado, and, in connection therewith, authorizing the public utilities commission to review and approve investor-owned utilities’ applications for low-emission innovative energy technologies based on meeting specified criteria.

  • Allows projects that never go into effect and projects that are knowingly not cost-effective to be charged to ratepayers
    • Prevents any solar/wind/L-ion battery projects from being used
    • Specifies only zero-emissions technologies may be used
    • Allow cost recovery via Clean Energy Plan Rider but limits cost recovery to maximum achievable by a solar or wind facility
    • Includes provision for encouragement of site location in an area affected by energy generation transition (eg coal plant retirement)

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.

  • Defines a fee/fine structure large enough ($200K/day) to add up to 20 more inspectors for our gas gathering and transmission pipelines

GHGs Pollution

 SB21-260 | Sustainability Of The Transportation System | Concerning the sustainability of the transportation system in Colorado, and, in connection therewith, creating new sources of dedicated funding and new state enterprises to preserve, improve, and expand existing transportation infrastructure, develop the modernized infrastructure needed to support the widespread adoption of electric motor vehicles, and mitigate environmental and health impacts of transportation system use; and expanding authority for regional transportation improvements.

  • 128 Amendments!
    • Roughly 80% is for ‘roads and bridges’ and 20% is for EVs and charging
      • 4 new clean transportation Enterprises: Clean Fleet (in CDPHE), Clean Transit (in DOT), Non-Attainment Area (in DOT), and Community Access (In CEO)
    • Establishes social cost of GHGs as a pollutant and sets up fees and reporting using a discount rate of 2.5% or the federal standard, whichever is higher
    • Adds fees for ride shares (unless the vehicle is an EV), gig delivery, Amazon/UPS/etc, which will fund charging stations, e-bikes and scooters, electric buses etc.
    • sets aside compensatory funding for DI Communities and low income households
    • Sets up a multi-modal and impacts mitigation fund within DOT’s Revitalizing Main Streets program
    • 2.5c/gallon fee on gas increasing annually to 8c. In lieu of gas fees, EV users changed $50/year upon registration renewal
      • And EVs pay a road usage equalization fee of $4/yr rising to $96 in 2031 (hybrids pay less since they also buy gas)
      • $182M to state highway fund
        • $22M of which is for multi-modal Revitalizing Main Streets program and
        • $10M/year must be spent to mitigate increased air pollution in non-attainment area amended in L081 to reduce to $5M
      • $161M to Mult-modal fund
      • $36M to highway users
    • Trucks pay additional annual registration fee; the bigger the truck the higher the fee (from $50-$150)
    • Amendment L072 adds Particulate Matter monitoring in DI Communities and a requirement to review alternative transit methods before considering lane widening (this includes the planned I-270 widening)
    • L064 includes provision for hydrogen fuel cell charging, not just battery charging
    • L086 specifies special attention to DI Communities
      • L115 creates the Environmental Justice and Equity Branch in Construction Dept of DOT and requires them to work with DICs on traffic expansion
    • L122 adds CNG vehicles to clean fleet if 90% of CNG is from recovered methane

HB21-1290 | Additional Funding For Just Transition | Concerning $15M funding to provide just transition for coal transition workers and coal transition communities.

HB21-1189 | Regulate Air Toxics !!! | Concerning additional public health protections in relation to the emission of air toxics.

  • HAPs (Hazardous Air Pollutants) defined by quantity removed from the bill and replaced with types of facilities.
    • Includes community monitoring (not just fenceline) via CDPHE mobile van

SB21-238 | Create Front Range Passenger Rail District | Concerning the front range passenger rail district, and, in connection therewith, creating the district, which is from NM to WY and includes connections to Amtrak and the Winter Park Express Train, as well as Northwest Rail Line Corridor with RTD

HB21-1230 | Create User-friendly State Internet Rules Portal | Concerning creation of a user-friendly state internet portal relating to state agency rules.

HB21-1247 | Colorado Department Of Public Health And Environment Contract Pay To Grantees Up Front | Concerning allowing the department of public health and environment to award a percentage of the total value of an annual contract to a grantee of a grant program of the department upon the execution or renewal of the annual contract.

HB21-1322 | Gasoline And Special Fuel Tax Restructuring | Concerning the restructuring of the gasoline and special fuel tax.

SB21-281 | State Severance Tax Trust Fund Allocation | Concerning severance tax revenue.

Built Environment

HB21-1238 | Public Utilities Commission Modernize Gas Utility Demand-side Management Standards !!! | Concerning the modernization of gas energy efficiency programs.

  • Amended to remove disincentives to conversion via rate changes
    • Labor friendly amendment
    • Includes social cost of carbon AND social cost of methane (based on federal std)
    • Specifies mandatory funding for low income and DICs
    • Includes insulation, weatherization, conservation, load Mgmt (demand response), and conversion from gas appliances

SB21-246 | Electric Utility Promote Beneficial Electrification  !!! | Concerning measures to encourage beneficial electrification, and, in connection therewith, directing the public utilities commission and Colorado utilities to promote compliance with current environmental and labor standards.

  • Complements 1238 above
    • Requires PUC to define targets for DSM and methane reductions
    • Outlines cost-recovery options and performance incentives

HB21-1284 | Limit Fee Install Active Solar Energy System | Concerning modifications to the limitation on the aggregate amount of fees—max $500 for residential and $1K for commercial—that may be assessed by governmental bodies for the installation of active solar energy systems.

HB21-1286 | Energy Performance For Buildings  !!! | Concerning measures to improve energy efficiency, and, in connection therewith, requiring owners of large buildings to collect and report on energy-use benchmarking data and comply with performance standards related to energy and greenhouse gas emissions and modifying statutory requirements regarding energy performance contracts.

  • Limited to buildings in excess of 20K sq ft which is presently approx 3,000 buildings
    • Must demonstrate compliance with performance standards every 5 years

SB21-230 | Transfer To Colorado Energy Office Energy Fund | Concerning a transfer of $40M from the general fund to the energy fund to finance programs of the Colorado Energy Office

SB21-231 | Energy Office Weatherization Assistance Grants | Concerning a transfer of $3M from the general fund to the energy fund to finance the weatherization assistance program of the Colorado Energy Office.

HB21-1253 | Renewable And Clean Energy Project Grants | Concerning a general fund transfer of $5M to the local government severance tax fund to fund grants to local governments for renewable and clean energy infrastructure projects

HB21-1303 | Global Warming Potential For Public Project Materials | Concerning measures to limit the global warming potential for certain materials used in public projects.

  • Concrete and asphalt are 14% of the total GHGs emitted!  This bill addresses that and our bill is the most comprehensive in the nation

Climate Impacts

 HB21-1266 | Environmental Justice Disproportionate Impacted Community !!! | Concerning efforts to redress the effects of environmental injustice on disproportionately impacted communities. Click here for amendment adding much of SB200

  • L009 added in Senate Finance which incorporated SB200 except transportation and buildings
    • Provides for the first time a legislative definition of Disproportionally Impacted Community (DIC or DI Community)
    • Creates an Ombudsman at CDPHE to assist DICs in rulemakings and complaints and a task force to go into DICs (along with the money to fund it) and actively solicit participation including child care, nght/weekend hours, multi-language, snacks, transit access etc.
    • BUT “nothing in this act alters the GHGs reductions goals previously enacted in either amount or timing” and
      • Adds that AQCC may promulgate rules that increase the previously enacted targets
      • Add GHGs in toto as a reportable emission with fees and reporting/monitoring requirements
    • Establishes the requirement for monitoring in DICs including PM2.5
    • Establishes GHGs as a pollutant and requires fees for emissions thereof
    • Provides recourse for more legislation/rulemakings if Roadmap goals are not met (as reported in odd-numbered years)
    • “Encourages” AQCC to promulgate rules in utilities sector that reduces GHGs by at least 48% by 2025 and 80% by 2030
    • “Encourages” AQCC to promulgate rules in industrial manufacturing sector and the O&FG sector that reduces GHGs by at least 36% by 2025 and 60% by 2030
      • Established a cap-and-trade system for emissions
    • Establishes a social cost of GHGs using a 2.5% discount rate based on the federal standard whoever is higher
    • Requires self-reported monitoring of GHGs in addition to existing pollutants (HAPs/CO2/NOx/VOCs/etc)

HB21-1274 | Unused State-owned Real Property Beneficial Use | Concerning the beneficial use of unused state-owned real property, and, in connection therewith, directing the department of personnel to inventory such property and use such property to promote affordable housing and renewable energy development.

HB21-1312 | Insurance Premium Property Sales Severance Tax | Concerning taxation, and, in connection therewith, narrowing the scope of the home office insurance premium tax rate reduction

HB21-1162 | Management Of Plastic Products !!! | Concerning the management of plastic products.

  • Amended out the provision to allow local government preemption for the ban of more types of plastics, then amended it back in again!
    • Amended to exclude from the bag ban any business with less than 3 locations
    • 10c on paper and plastics no mo’ starting 2023
    • Lunch ladies win so schools get to keep using styrofoam until 2025.

HB21-1052 | Define Pumped Hydroelectricity As Renewable Energy !!! | Concerning the inclusion of pumped hydroelectric energy generation in the definition of “eligible energy resources” for purposes of meeting Colorado’s renewable energy standard.

HB21-1131 | Cooperative Electric Associations Governance Requirements !!!

Concerning governance requirements for cooperative electric associations.

HB21-1141 | Electric Vehicle License Plate | Concerning the creation of a license plate for plug-in electric motor vehicles.

HB21-1149 | Energy Sector Career Pathway In Higher Education | Concerning supporting an energy sector career pathway for Colorado.

Addressing Wildfires

HB21-1208 | Natural Disaster Mitigation Enterprise | Concerning the creation of an enterprise that is exempt from the requirements of section 20 of article X of the state constitution to administer a fee-based natural disaster mitigation grant program. $4.2M

HB21-1008 | Forest Health Project Financing | Concerning increased options for financing forest health projects, and, in connection therewith, financing wildfire mitigation treatments. Sponsors: Arndt/Catlin, Cooke/Hansen. Up to $50M in bonds

SB21-113 | Firefighting Aircraft Wildfire Mgmt And Response | Concerning state funding of firefighting aircraft to respond to wildfires. $30.8M for the “Firehawk” helicopter

SB21-054 | Transfers For Wildfire Mitigation And Response | Concerning transfers from the general fund to cash funds to be used to address wildland fires, and, in connection therewith, making an appropriation. $13M

SB21-221 | Projects Under Wildfire Risk Mitigation Grant Program | Concerning projects under the forest restoration and wildfire risk mitigation grant program. Removes the $1M limit

SB21-258 |  Wildfire Risk Mitigation | Concerning the administration of state assistance programs to mitigate the risk of wildfire, and, in connection therewith, creating the wildfire mitigation capacity development fund and the hazard mitigation fund $31.6M next 2 years.

Agriculture/Carbon Farming

HB21-1242 | Create Agricultural Drought And Climate Resilience Office | Concerning the creation of an agricultural drought and climate resilience office in the department of agriculture.

SB21-234 | General Fund Transfer Agriculture And Drought Resiliency | Concerning creation of the agriculture and drought resiliency fund, and, in connection therewith, transferring money from the general fund to the fund – $1.2M

SB21-235 | Stimulus Funding Department Of Agriculture Efficiency Programs | Concerning additional funding for programs of the department of agriculture to support increased efficiency in agricultural operations – $5M

Climate Legislation that Failed

 SB21-200 | Reduce Greenhouse Gases Increase Environmental Justice | See HB21-1266

 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.

  • Appeared to be an O&G bill but was in fact a bill to prevent the construction of any new public schools in Weld County.
    • Time for local and state regs on “reverse” setbacks of new buildings from existing O&G fields.

HB21-1246 | PERA Public Employees’ Retirement Association Divestment From Fossil Fuel Companies !!!

HB21-1199 | Consumer Digital Repair Bill Of Rights | Concerning a requirement that a manufacturer of digital electronic equipment facilitate the repair of the equipment by providing persons other than authorized repair providers affiliated with the manufacturer with the resources needed to repair the equipment.

SB21-034 | Water Resource Financing Enterprise | Concerning the creation of an enterprise that is exempt from the requirements of section 20 of article X of the state constitution to administer a fee-based water resources financing program.

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

  • Tried to prohibit enviro groups from offering alternate proposals to bad rules

 HB21-1205 | Electric Vehicle Road Usage Equalization Fee | Concerning a road usage equalization fee for plug-in electric motor vehicles. | Note this bill came back as a provision in the Transportation Bill (SB21-260)

 SB21-149 | Wind Energy Facilities Sited Near Military Operations | Concerning limitations on the construction of wind energy facilities sited near military resources.

SB21-161 | Voluntary Reduce Greenhouse Gas Natural Gas Utility | Postponed by the sponsor and replaced with SB264

 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.

  • Tried to make costs (loss of revenue) a decision-making factor in the implementation of GHGs reductions rules.

SB21-180 | CONCERNING A REPORT TO BE SUBMITTED TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY BY THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT REGARDING POST-CONSUMER RECYCLED CONTENT RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PACKAGING.

 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.

2021 Climate Legislation Summary

Action Alert: Tell Colorado’s Senators: No Climate, No Deal!

President Biden’s original infrastructure proposal (more formally, the American Jobs Plan) included major investments related to mitigating and adapting to the climate crisis.  However, the compromise bill designed to make infrastructure spending more palatable to Senate Republicans contains very little in the way of climate initiatives.  Colorado’s Senators need to hear from us: “No Climate, No Deal!”

Please write to Senator Michael Bennet and Senator John Hickenlooper to let them know that infrastructure programs must include a focus on the climate crisis. A sample e-message is provided below; please personalize.

Dear Senator XXX:

Please oppose any infrastructure compromise that does not include major investments in mitigating and adapting to the climate crisis.

The original American Jobs Plan included funding to make the electric grid 100% carbon-free by 2035, to switch from gasoline-powered vehicles to electric-powered vehicles, and to make buildings and other structures more resilient to climate-related hazards.  This represents a good first step for our nation in doing its part to respond to the climate crisis, although much more will be required in the years to come.

The Senate majority should not cave in to the Senate minority’s refusal to acknowledge the reality of the climate crisis.  Spending at the scale needed to address the climate crisis must be approved through reconciliation before any compromise infrastructure bill designed to gain support from climate change deniers is approved. No climate, no deal!

Sincerely,

Your Name

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