Grandstanding is so much easier than achieving results. This explains why politicians pander to global warming emotions with nonsensical proposals, including Colorado Senate Bill 200.
On the surface, this bill is hard to dislike. Sponsors call it the "Reduce Greenhouse Gasses Increase Environmental Justice" act.
Amen! Greenhouse gas = bad. Environmental justice = good. No one wants Earth to become a sweltering greenhouse with melting ice and distressed polar bears.
Sadly, this is another deceptive bill the sponsors promote to sound as if they care. Despite the warm-fuzzies title, SB 200 proposes authoritarian control by the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission to regulate nearly anything that generates "greenhouse gas." It would force the commission to prioritize the "social cost" of pollution and promote "environmental justice." It is the essence of centralized, top-down control cloaked in a good cause.
Given such power, the appointed commission — in no way accountable to the public — might do anything to promote social justice and human survival. If cars and highways cause "environmental injustice" — remember, highways are racist if they run through minority neighborhoods — perhaps the commission should abolish them.
Democratic Sens. Faith Winter, Dominick Moreno, and Democratic Rep. Dominique Jackson must know the dangers of giving so much power to a non-elected, unaccountable board with a solitary mission. Yet, these politicians can message grave concern for the climate, pass a harmful bill, and count on almost no constituents associating these actions and words with damage that manifests years down the road.
There's no need to take our word for it. Hear the warning of a devout environmentalist and articulate opponent of SB 200.
"SB 200 is a top-down, hard-cap (emissions) bill that would essentially give this unelected board the authority to nearly destroy or assault our entire economy with a legal mandate to meet certain hard carbon reduction goals, many of which we're already much of the way to achieving. Many of them also rely on future technology, require a flexible approach, and require expertise... We feel that if Colorado is going to achieve carbon goals and air quality goals it should be done in the light of day with educated debate."
This opponent, who contacted The Gazette's editorial board to express his concerns on Tuesday, repeatedly called the bill "dictatorial." The critic has a stake in the proposed legislation and plans to obstruct it.
"I'm not willing to give dictatorial authority over our economy to one unelected board that lacks the broader mandate and expertise needed to make these decisions," said the critic, Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, when asked if he would veto SB 200. "Requiring one particular state committee to have dictatorial authority across every sector of the economy is not an effective way to achieve Colorado's climate goals."
Among governors, Polis takes second-to-none in his concern for the environment. He considers climate change a threat to humanity's long-term survival. He wants more battery cars, charging stations, an end to coal, strict controls on fracking, and a swift transition to nontraditional energy. One can take issue with the governor's aggressive climate agenda but would be hardpressed to prove insincerity. We cannot say the same for SB 200 advocates. They seem to want drama and accolades more than what is best for Colorado.
Liberal Democrat, devout environmentalist, and former Boulder Mayor Will Toor agrees with Polis.
"Fundamentally achieving these targets can't reside simply with the air commission," Toor told us Tuesday. "It needs to involve cooperative work with affected industries, electric utilities, the oil and gas industry, the transportation and building sector, and others. It needs to involve public investment, incentives that will lead to market transformations in ways that will achieve our climate targets while also maintaining a very successful economy. We don't think SB 200 is really consistent with that approach."
Toor and Polis view regulation holistically because each has worked as a high-level executive and contemplates interconnectivity. They understand how actions have equal and opposite reactions. They know how oversimplified efforts to solve one problem can lead to others that must also be accounted for and managed. The Air Quality Control Commission knows one thing: air quality. Indeed, we need clean air. Yet, humanity cannot survive on air alone.
"The commission does not have consideration for the economy," Polis said. "Their only lense would be carbon emissions. That's not the appropriate way to weigh all of the equities of the complex factors that go into oil and gas regulation."
Legislators, listen to the state's most prominent and impassioned environmentalists and scrap SB 200. Waste no more time on this and other self-aggrandizing bills that sound virtuous and pose more harm than good.