The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission’s adoption of new Greenhouse Gas Reporting rules, designed to help Colorado achieve its statutorily-mandated reductions of greenhouse gas pollution, missed the mark, say Environmental Defense Fund and Western Resource Advocates.
While the adopted rules require comprehensive reporting from the electricity sector and separately secure reductions of the potent global warming pollutant hydrofluorocarbons, they fall short of providing the public and the Commission valuable data to inform statewide efforts to meet Colorado’s science-based greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, required by Colorado law. In particular, there is a significant gap in the regulation with regard to entities that supply transportation fuels to Colorado. Unlike other sectors, nearly two thirds of the fuel delivered into Colorado will not be directly reported to state regulators. The transportation sector is the second largest source of greenhouse gas pollution in Colorado.
Establishing robust greenhouse gas reporting rules is a foundational step to reduce climate pollution in our state, which is critical to improving our air quality and protecting Coloradans’ health. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Coloradans are more aware than ever before of the importance of clean air for our health and well-being.
“The AQCC and the state of Colorado missed a critical opportunity to gather comprehensive information about the sources of harmful climate pollution in our state,” said Stacy Tellinghuisen, senior climate policy analyst at Western Resource Advocates. “The greenhouse gas reporting rules adopted by the Commission mark important progress, but significant gaps remain, specifically regarding entities that supply transportation fuels to Colorado. The reporting gaps leave our state with an incomplete picture of emission sources, at a time when it is critical to make progress on reducing harmful air pollution from that sector. Even while our state leaders work to address the current health crisis, we know the climate crisis also requires urgent action to ensure a healthier and more sustainable future for our children and grandchildren.”
“The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission decision today fails to protect human health and the environment in the most fundamental way – safeguarding the public’s right-to-know by requiring transparent and publicly accessible data,” said Pam Kiely, senior director of regulatory strategy for Environmental Defense Fund. “Yet the Commission has an opportunity right around the corner to take protective action. Encouragingly, Commissioners today highlighted the July 1st deadline in our state’s clean air laws for proposing comprehensive action to meet Colorado’s climate goals, and underscored the urgent need to develop the regulations necessary to meet Colorado’s vital climate pollution reduction goals – action essential to ensure cleaner air and a stronger economy for all Coloradans.”
The Commission must now quickly act to adopt data-driven, enforceable policies and rules that will cost-effectively drive down emissions and meet Colorado’s science-based climate goals of reducing greenhouse gas pollution 25% by 2025, 50% by 2030, and 90% by 2050. SB 19-096 requires the AQCC to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking to achieve the state’s goals by July 1, 2020.
Colorado faces a significant gap between its climate pollution reduction goals and the policies the state is currently pursuing to achieve them. Earlier this year, EDF and WRA commissioned an analysis which found Colorado will miss its emission goals by roughly 30 million metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution in 2025 and 46 million metric tons of pollution in 2030. Today’s adoption of the new hydrofluorocarbon regulation is important, but projected to reduce the equivalent of just 1.15 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2030. Closing this gap will require significant and swift reductions throughout the economy, including power plants, transportation, oil and gas, commercial, and industrial sectors.
The Climate Action Plan, which Governor Jared Polis signed into law almost one year ago on May 30, 2019, established greenhouse gas emission reduction goals in line with the scientific consensus of what will be required to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The law requires the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission to develop cost-effective regulations to meet the goals and directs the Commission to solicit input from a variety of stakeholders, including workers and communities that are currently economically dependent on industries with high levels of climate pollution.