Anti-environmental bills defeated, pro-clean energy legislation on way to Governor’s desk
Denver — Environmentalists, clean energy businesses and their allies in the legislature are pleased by the 2012 legislative session, as a slew of bills designed to promote dirty energy were soundly defeated.
One of the most controversial anti-environmental bills, which died in the final hours of the session, took aim at the state’s landmark goal of generating 30% of the state’s energy from renewable sources by 2020. The bill (H.B. 1351), a combination of three original bills packaged together two days before the session closed (H.B. 1351, H.B. 1160 and H.B. 178), would have reduced the goal significantly and allowed methane from coal mines and the burning of waste like old tires to count as renewable energy, increasing air pollution and edging out the state’s growing clean energy industries. Other bills defeated this session include a proposal to prohibit the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) from considering carbon (H.B. 1172) and a proposal to allow the PUC to suspend the Renewable Energy Standard (H.B 1121).
“Coloradans want to see our state continue to move forward, not backward, when it comes to clean energy,” said Jeanne Bassett, Environment Colorado’s Senior Associate. “The legislature did the right thing and rejected the dirty energy lobby’s repeated attempts to dismantle Colorado’s nation-leading clean energy initiatives, keeping the state’s 30% by 2020 Renewable Energy Standard intact.”
Environmentalists credit the success of the pro-environmental votes this year to an outpouring of citizen support for Colorado’s clean energy leadership. During the last 12 hours of the session, almost 500 Environment Colorado activists sent messages to their state senators urging them to cast pro-environment votes. In addition, farmers and ranchers primarily from Southern Colorado actively supported the pro-environment position, demonstrating wide support in the state for a clean energy economy.
In addition, thousands of Coloradans also spoke out against fracking, which threatens Colorado’s water and health with toxic pollution. This support helped defeat two dangerous fracking bills aimed at local government’s authority to protect their communities. S.B. 88 would have stripped local government of the authority to curb the dirty and destructive drilling practice and H.B. 1356, if passed, local government would be penalized for exercising that authority.
On the plus side, the legislature passed several good clean energy bills. One bill, H.B. 1315 (Becker and Steadman) will provide funds for the Governor’s Energy Office, an office which plays a critical role in supporting Colorado’s clean energy and energy efficiency programs. The legislature also took a step in the right direction by passing legislation to promote electric vehicles via H.B. 1258 (DelGrosso and Jahn).
Clean energy from wind and solar is a success story for Colorado during a tough economic time, generating pollution free energy and employing tens of thousands of Coloradans. In 2011 alone, Colorado's installed wind capacity grew 39% and today Colorado's solar industry employs more citizens per capita than any other state.
Bassett concluded, “Today Colorado’s clean energy future is bright. This session reaffirmed our commitment to that future, though more needs to be done to bring clean energy to Colorado and to protect our air, water and open space from dirty energy and dangerous drilling.”
Environment Colorado is a state-wide citizen-funded environmental organization working to protect clean air, clean water and open space.