Conservation and Environmental Justice Advocates Back Legislation to Equitably Reduce Climate Pollution, Protect Colorado Communities
Bill will make Gov. Polis’ Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap a reality and help prevent the devastating impacts of climate change in Colorado
DENVER — A coalition of conservation and environmental justice groups today backed newly introduced legislation to reduce harmful greenhouse gas pollution in Colorado. SB21-200, Reduce Greenhouse Gases Increase Environmental Justice, would get Colorado on track to reach its 2025 and 2030 climate pollution reduction goals by putting the sector-specific emission limits in Governor Polis’ Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap into law.
Sponsored by Senators Faith Winter and Dominick Moreno and Representatives Dominique Jackson and Mike Weissman, the bill is a critical step toward improving air quality and protecting families’ health — particularly in communities that are disproportionately impacted by pollution and environmental racism — while spurring innovation and local job creation. See frequently asked questions about the bill here.
“Our communities, Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color are on the frontlines of climate change. There is no climate justice without environmental justice, and there is no environmental justice without quickly reducing pollution and meeting the science based targets,” said Renee M. Chacon, Cultural Educator for Spirit of the Sun. “Our communities cannot wait any longer for restorative justice that addresses the generations of hurt caused by being flushed out and choked out of our homelands with no legal and moral protections. We need genuine leadership and actions to change the system, to undo the years of extraction from our communities for profit and put the survival of disproportionately impacted people first.”
“Our climate goals are only as strong as our plans to execute them,” said Ariana Gonzalez, director of Colorado policy for NRDC’s Climate and Clean Energy Program. “This bill translates Governor Polis’ ambitious climate goals into quantifiable, equitable, enforceable rules for the industries that are responsible for our state’s pollution. Only with this kind of specificity and accountability can we tackle the climate crisis and achieve environmental justice.”
“Colorado’s Latino communities know the reality of the climate crisis and environmental injustice all too well,” said Beatriz Soto, Defiende Nuestra Tierra director, Wilderness Workshop. “Here on the West Slope we’ve seen how warmer winters, less snow, and less tourism are affecting our way of life — plus affecting the ability of individuals in our community to support their families and pay the bills. We need climate solutions that meet the needs of our communities, build resilience, and hit our climate targets.”
“As part of a Colorado-style recovery that prioritizes public health, family-supporting jobs, and equity, we must ensure we hit the science-based targets in state law by enacting Governor Polis’ climate roadmap,” said Kelly Nordini, executive director for Conservation Colorado. “We can do that by passing this bill and building a better Colorado that moves us towards the clean economy of the future that Coloradans want and deserve.”
“In Colorado, frontline communities are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis,” said Ean Tafoya, Colorado Field Advocate, Green Latinos. “ It is past time that we protect the people and respect the science. It shouldn’t take lawsuits and legislation to do the right thing.”
“Coloradans are experiencing devastating impacts of climate change right now — more catastrophic wildfires, dangerous air quality, ongoing drought, and more,” said Anna McDevitt, Senior Campaign Representative with Sierra Club. “SB-200 provides the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission with more tools to act to protect our communities from pollution and get on track to meet state climate goals by 2025 and 2030.”
“As a result of strong policy to drive clean energy innovation and deployment, Colorado has made important progress in reducing greenhouse gas pollution from electricity generation. Now it’s time to make similar progress in the other major sources of pollution in Colorado,” said Jessica Gelay, Colorado Government Affairs Manager for Western Resource Advocates. “In 2019, Colorado adopted science-based greenhouse gas reduction goals, but we’re currently not on track to achieve them. This bill will drive critical emissions reductions while improving air quality, protecting Coloradans’ health, and spurring innovation. We will not get a second chance to reach our climate goals, and the longer we wait, the more difficult the task becomes. We applaud the bill’s sponsors for their leadership and encourage the full General Assembly to support this legislation.”
“In 2019 the Colorado General Assembly passed legislation requiring that the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) adopt regulations to achieve science-based targets for slashing climate pollution, including strategies specifically designed to reduce pollution in disproportionately impacted communities. Unfortunately the AQCC is eight months overdue and has yet to propose regulations sufficient to ensure either objective is achieved,” said Pam Kiely, Sr. Director of Regulatory Strategy for Environmental Defense Fund. “This new legislation will provide a concrete deadline for finalizing protective regulations that will provide certainty for communities across the state that are already confronting the devastating public health and economic impacts of climate change.”
The legislation builds on the sector-specific emission targets established in Governor Polis’ Roadmap and adopted by the AQCC. Through sector-specific targets, SB21-200 spells out the emissions reductions Colorado must make in electricity generation, transportation, homes and businesses, and other sources of pollution to ensure the state meets climate goals established by Colorado’s Climate Action Plan, and protects communities from harmful pollution.
Climate action and environmental justice go hand in hand, and last week, dozens of environmental justice, climate, and health advocates submitted detailed comments about how the administration can strengthen its recently released draft Climate Equity Framework. The administration is pursuing the creation of an equity framework to ensure that Colorado’s response to climate change is guided by principles of racial equity and economic justice, and includes meaningful input from disproportionately affected communities.