Trump's EPA takes aim at new swath of Obama-era coal rules

(Photo by J. David Ake, AP file)

(Photo by J. David Ake, AP file)

Gov. Jared Polis put a Democratic stamp on his legacy early in his tenure Thursday when he affixed his signature on a package of environmental bills, including Colorado’s Climate Action Plan.

House Bill 1261 aims to reduce carbon emissions by at least 26% by 2025, at least 50% by 2030, and 90% by 2050, based on 2005 levels.

The new law, one of the centerpieces of Polis’ run for governor last year, will empower the state Air Quality Control Commission to create rules to help the state meet the clean-air goals.

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The bill was one of seven the governor signed during a small ceremony in a solar garden in Arvada on Thursday morning.

A piece of companion legislation, Senate Bill 96, authorizes the state to collect long-term climate change data.

“Coloradans have been waiting for climate leadership, and the leaders that Coloradans sent to the Capitol delivered on their promises to take action,” Jim Alexee, director of the Colorado Sierra Club, said in a statement Wednesday.

“The legislation passed in the 2019 legislative session sets Colorado on a path to reach Gov. Polis’ goal of powering our state with 100% renewable energy.”

The Sierra Club supported the bills, but also noted that Senate Bill 236, which reauthorized the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, was a signature victory.

The rate-setting panel of appointees will be instructed to weigh the social costs of carbon and its cumulative effects as it sets rates, which should give renewables a big boost.

The bill also allows utilities to issue bonds to retire coal plants and offers help to coal plant workers and communities affected by such closures.

That could put pressure on Tri-State Generation and Transmission to accept a proposal from Guzman Energy, which has offered to finance the closure of three Tri-State coal plants and sell back energy that comes primarily from renewable sources.

Tri-State supplies energy to most of the rural cooperatives in Colorado.

Polis also signed:

House Bill 1231, setting new appliance efficiency standards.

House Bill 1260, on building energy codes.

House Bill 1272, Housing Authority Property in Colorado New Energy Improvement District.

House Bill 1003, the Community Solar Gardens Modernization Act.

“The Colorado Sierra Club supported legislation that moves us forward by supporting energy industry workers, meeting the demands of electricity customers, and cutting pollution so our kids and grandkids can enjoy Colorado for generations to come,” Alexee said.

Contact Joey Bunch at joey.bunch@coloradopolitics.com or follow him on Twitter @joeybunch.

Contact Joey Bunch at joey.bunch@coloradopolitics.com or follow him on Twitter @joeybunch.

Colorado Politics senior political reporter

Joey Bunch is the senior correspondent and deputy managing editor of Colorado Politics. His 32-year career includes the last 16 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and he is a two-time finalist.

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