CC4CA Celebrates Major Climate Wins During the 2019 Legislative Session

CC4CA actively supported thirteen bills tackling carbon pollution in the 2019 legislative session. All of them passed either as stand-alone bills or incorporated into other bills, including both of CC4CA’s priority bills, and CC4CA helped defeat the one bill it actively opposed.

The successful legislation covered a broad sweep of climate-related policy:

CC4CA’s Top Priorities

Colorado’s Landmark Climate Action Bill (HB19-1261)
One of CC4CA’s highest priority bills, 1261 establishes statewide carbon pollution targets (at least 26% reduction by 2025, at least 50% by 2030, and at least 90% by 2050) and directs the Air Quality Control Commission to adopt new rules for achieving these targets. Sponsored by Rep. Becker, Rep. Jackson, Senator Winter, and Senator Williams

Collecting Long-Term Climate Data (SB19-096)
CC4CA’s other top priority bill requires the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to regularly and accurately assess carbon emissions across the state. By conducting credible inventories and forecasting, we can effectively evaluate what climate efforts are working well and which ones aren’t, and then make strategic decisions about how best to achieve the state’s carbon pollution goals. Sponsored by Senator Donovan and Rep. Hansen.

Electricity

PUC Sunset Review (SB19-236)
This full review of the Public Utilities Commission, which ultimately incorporated provisions from two other important bills (HB19-1037 and HB19-1313), has a range of implications. It requires the PUC to consider the full cost of carbon pollution when evaluating plans submitted by electric utilities (the so-called “social cost of carbon”), it codifies Xcel’s proposed reduction targets of 80% by 2030 and 100% carbon free by 2050, it clearly establishes that the PUC has oversight responsibilities with Tri-State (which will help protect the customers of Colorado’s numerous rural electric cooperatives), it makes it easier for electric utilities to retire coal plants as they become more expensive to operate, and it directs the PUC to study a number of potentially substantial opportunities to further reduce both the cost and carbon pollution of generating electricity. Sponsored by Senator Garcia, Senator Fenberg, Rep. Hansen, and Rep. Becker.

Solar Gardens (HB19-1003)
Increases the maximum size of community solar gardens and eliminates the restriction that solar garden subscribers must live in or adjacent to the county housing the solar panels. Both of these changes should help expand solar garden access and opportunities. Sponsored by Rep. Hansen, Rep. A. Valdez, Rep. Foote, and Senator Story.

Just Transition (HB19-1314)
Creates a new Just Transition Office designed to help communities that have depended on coal-related jobs transition as those coal jobs continue declining. Sponsored by Rep. Becker, Rep. Galindo, Senator Winter, and Senator Donovan.

Energy Codes for Buildings (HB19-1260)
Requires that as local jurisdictions update their building codes they incorporate one of the three most recent versions of the International Energy Conservation Code. Sponsored by Rep. Kipp, Rep. A. Valdez, Senator Winter, and Senator Priola.

CPACE for Housing Authorities (HB19-1272)
Clarifies that Housing Authorities can utilize Commercial PACE programs (a powerful financing mechanism for solar and energy efficiency). Sponsored by Rep. Bird, Senator Winter, and Senator Priola.

Electric Vehicles

Utility Investments in Electric Vehicles (SB19-077)
Allows the PUC to authorize investments in electric vehicle charging stations by investor-owned utilities like Xcel, which should help ensure that more of Colorado benefits from the expansion of EVs. Sponsored by Senator Priola, Senator Williams, and Rep. Hansen.

EV Tax Credit Extension (HB19-1159)
Extends the current Colorado EV tax credits through the 2025 tax year, which is when EVs and internal combustion engine vehicles are expected to cost the same. Sponsored by Rep. Jaquez Lewis, Rep. Gray, and Senator Danielson.

EV Grant Fund (HB19-1198)
Expands the flexibility of this existing grant fund so that grant dollars can more easily be used to support charging stations. Sponsored by Rep. A. Valdez, Rep. D. Valdez, Senator Bridges, and Senator Priola.

Methane and VOC Emissions

Oil and Gas Reform (SB19-181)
Of particular interest to CC4CA is the direction to the Air Quality Control Commission to improve monitoring and emissions controls for methane and VOCs tied to drilling activities. The bill also shifts the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to protect public health and the environment, expands the COGCC to include more non-industry representatives, and gives local governments more ability to regulate drilling activities within their borders. Sponsored by Senator Fenberg, Rep. Foote, Rep. Becker, and Rep. Caraveo.

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CC4CA opposed – successfully – one bill.

Weakening Vehicle Standards (SB19-053)
Would have prohibited Colorado from adopting low emission vehicle (LEV) and zero emission vehicle (ZEV) standards. Sponsored by Senator Cooke.