Guv: Colorado will follow Paris climate goals
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has committed the state to greenhouse gas reductions consistent with the global accord reached in Paris, despite President Trump’s decision to pull the United States from that accord.
The Democrat’s move Tuesday enters Colorado into the U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of 13 states and Puerto Rico that have committed to reach the goals of the Paris agreement.
The executive order sets goals including reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions by more than 26 percent from 2005 levels by 2025 and cutting carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity sector by 25 percent by 2025 and 35 percent by 2030 from 2012 levels.
Hickenlooper also has committed to actions including developing a plan to construct electric vehicle charging stations in key state transportation corridors, looking to expand on state efforts to help communities dependent on traditional energy jobs such as coal mining transition economically, and adopting state greenhouse gas tracking and reporting requirements mirroring federal ones, to preserve those ongoing efforts.
Hickenlooper said in a news release, “The vast majority of our residents, and indeed the country, expect us to help lead the way toward a clean and affordable energy future. In this process, we no doubt can address climate change while keeping a priority on household budgets.”
Pete Maysmith, executive director of Conservation Colorado, said in a release Tuesday, “With today’s announcement, President Trump has become even more isolated from the world, whose leaders are taking aggressive action to fight climate change. We are excited to work with Governor Hickenlooper to meet or exceed all of these important targets.”
Reaction from elected officials to the plan broke down along party lines Tuesday. U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., said Colorado becomes the first state in the Rockies to commit to meet the Paris goals.
“Our state is number one in the country for wind energy jobs, and this announcement will only strengthen our leadership in building a clean energy economy and combating climate change,” he said.
State Senate Republican leaders, including Assistant Majority Leader Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, assailed the action in a news release, with Scott saying he doesn’t think Hickenlooper has the authority to change the state’s renewable energy goals through an executive order.
Scott argued Hickenlooper circumvented the public process.
Said Senate President Kevin Grantham, “The governor’s failure to proceed in an open, collaborative, bipartisan way means this policy never will have the stamp of public legitimacy it needs — and that it most likely will be challenged in court.”
Stan Dempsey, president of the Colorado Mining Association, expressed concern that Hickenlooper acted without involving stakeholders.
“We’re actually interested in the devil in the details when he talks about emissions reductions,” Dempsey said.
He said he’s concerned that Hickenlooper said his action would mean less coal use in Colorado, and worries what that will mean for electricity rates for consumers.
Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, which runs a coal-fired power plant near Craig that is supplied by nearby mines, wasn’t consulted on Hickenlooper’s order, although the governor and his administration “have indicated a willingness to work with rural electric cooperatives on energy and climate issues in the past,” spokesman Lee Boughey said.
“We are reviewing what has been proposed and how it could impact the association and our facilities,” he said.
Tri-State gets a quarter of its energy from renewable sources and supplies power to local rural electrical cooperatives.
“The Governor’s executive order appears to recognize the unique differences among Colorado utilities and does not attempt to mandate one-size-fits-all solutions. We will work constructively with the state to ensure any programs reflect the uniqueness of cooperatives and preserve our ability to deliver affordable and reliable power to our member systems and the rural communities they serve,” Boughey said.