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Colorado Moves Ahead on Climate Action

In 2019, the Colorado legislature passed and Governor Jared Polis signed the Climate Action Plan, House Bill 19-1261, into law which commits the state to economy-wide, science-based GHG emission reduction goals of 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, 50 percent by 2030, and 90 percent by 2050.  Senate Bill 19-096, which was passed in the same session, further commits Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) to adopt GHG reporting regulations, and to propose regulations “by July 1, 2020 that would cost-effectively allow the state to meet its [GHG] emission reduction goals.”  

A number of developments from this past week will help bring these statutory goals into focus:

  • The Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) voted to open a rulemaking to begin implementing some of the state GHG requirements.  
  • At the same meeting, the Colorado Energy Office and the Air Pollution Control Division (APCD) presented an update on the roadmap study for implementing and achieving the reduction goals of HB 19-1261.  
  • M.J. Bradley & Associates published a report commissioned by Environmental Defense Fund and Western Resource Advocates that provides key information about the gap that will need to be addressed to meet the Colorado economy-wide GHG emission reduction goals.

AQCC Rulemaking

The GHG reporting requirements, proposed by the APCD, would establish monitoring, recordkeeping, and reporting requirements for owners and operators of a range of facilities that directly emit GHGs, retail or wholesale electric service providers, and fuel suppliers.  The proposed regulation builds upon established federal reporting requirements, but are more expansive in order to create a more accurate GHG inventory for Colorado.  

The proposed regulation also addresses the use and manufacture of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which have a high global warming potential.  The proposal would phase out the use of HFCs in retail and residential refrigeration and air conditioning, aerosol products, and rigid and spray foam end-uses in Colorado.  The APCD estimates that Colorado’s adoption of these rules would reduce emissions by 560,000 metric tons of CO2e in 2025 and 1.15 million metric tons CO2e in 2030. Similar actions are underway in fourteen other states, in light of the absence of similar controls at the federal level.  

The AQCC will hold a hearing on these proposed regulations on May 21.

Colorado Energy Office Greenhouse Gas Roadmap

At the February 20 AQCC meeting, the Colorado Energy Office (CEO) and its consultant, Energy and Environmental Economics (E3), provided an update regarding its Greenhouse Gas Roadmap process.  The CEO has contracted with E3 to analyze Colorado’s GHG emissions trajectory under a business-as-usual scenario and potential emission reduction strategies that could be implemented to reach the state’s emission reduction goals.  The objective of the project is to develop a transparent roadmap that outlines options to meet the state’s statutory GHG targets.  That report is not likely to be available before September 2020.

To date, E3 has been modeling GHG emissions under what it calls a reference or business-as-usual scenario and a “2019 action scenario,” which includes a range of recent and planned policies.  While the presentation did not expressly identify the gap, the materials presented by E3 indicate that this gap will be quite large, even with the aggressive actions considered in the 2019 action scenario.

M.J. Bradley & Associates Report

A new report prepared by M.J. Bradley & Associates on behalf of Firm client Environmental Defense Fund, in consultation with Western Resource Advocates, analyzes the state’s emission reduction goals in light of Colorado’s historic and projected emissions through 2030 under a business-as-usual scenario, and separately evaluates potential sector-specific emission reduction strategies currently under consideration. The report concludes that a 25 million metric ton gap will still exist in meeting the state’s statutory 2030 emission reduction target and a larger gap will exist in 2050, absent addition measures or programs.

Please contact Tom Bloomfield, Sarah Keane, or Sarah Judkins if you have any questions about this law alert.

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