Hickenlooper’s stand against Trump serves Colorado
With the Trump administration dismissing scientific assessments of the effects of climate change, including refusal to endorse the Paris climate change accords, it increasingly falls on states and cities to assert leadership on reducing the heat-trapping gases that cause climate warming.
Earlier this month, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced that Colorado would officially join the U. S. Climate Alliance. The alliance is a coalition of more than a dozen states that have committed to uphold or exceed the emissions reduction targets established by the Paris agreement.
The Paris agreement was signed by 195 countries in April 2016 in an effort to fight climate change by reducing greenhouse gases.
On June 1, Trump repudiated the Paris treaty.
The Trump order directs the Environmental Protection Agency to reverse Obama’s 2015 Clean Power Plan that established limits for greenhouse gases emitted from power plants. The order also lifts a moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands, and cancels federal regulations restricting methane emissions by power plants.
Colorado’s Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet called Trump’s order “a direct assault on the health of our children and clean energy economy.” He also cautioned that rescinding the Clean Power Plan will jeopardize thousands of jobs and cost billions of dollars.
Bennet warned in a statement, “It also could prevent the EPA from regulating clean air and water, sacrificing a rigorous scientific process in the name of ideology. Instead of leading the fight against climate change and transition to clean energy, this Administration has abandoned it.”
In response to Trump’s attempt to scuttle the Paris accords, governors of New York, California and Washington formed the U.S. Climate Alliance last month. Other states rapidly signed on to the alliance, including Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia. Municipalities also signed up to cut emissions.
Hickenlooper brought Colorado into the movement with his order earlier this month to reduce gas emissions to at least 26 percent below 2005 levels before 2025, and 35 percent by 2030, measured against 2012 levels. Currently, 55 to 60 percent of the state’s electrical energy comes from burning coal.
Hickenlooper joins 353 mayors nationwide — including 15 in Colorado — who signed an agreement to uphold the Paris Climate Agreement in their respective cities following Trump’s announcement.
“Coloradans value clean air and clean water. Our strong economy is a reflection of how our exhilarating outdoors attracts young entrepreneurs and the talents they need for their businesses,” Hickenlooper said in a press 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.”
Elected officials from around the state were quick to endorse the governor’s action. “We are writing to thank you for and express our support for your executive order setting important climate protection goals for our state, and to offer to work with you and your administration to achieve the actions to fulfill them,” reads a letter to the governor signed by a number of local county and municipal elected officials.
“Now more than ever, it is up to state and local governments to step up and fulfill our nation’s commitment to reduce heat trapping emissions under the Paris Agreement, which has been agreed to by nearly every nation in the world,” local officials said in their letter to the governor.
Hickenlooper foresees a robust energy economy in Colorado based on renewables as an alternative to the fossil fuels that increase carbon and other heat-trapping pollution.
“We will keep building a clean energy future that creates Colorado jobs, improves our health and addresses the harmful consequences of a changing climate,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. He added that Trump’s directive “will not deter Colorado’s efforts” to reduce harmful greenhouse gases.
Hickenlooper deserves our praise for his leadership against the Trump assault on our natural resources. He, and Colorado, must remain firm against the Trump administration efforts to turn back the clock on our clean energy future.