The Colorado House Energy and Environment Committee voted down a bill today that would have eliminated local authority to address climate and air pollution from fossil fuel appliances in homes and buildings by updating local building codes.
The vote is a victory for climate, environmental, and health organizations, which have argued that local governments must retain the authority to ensure that new homes and buildings are built with clean electric appliances — which are less expensive, less polluting, healthier, and safer compared with gas.
The Colorado bill was one of nearly a dozen similar bills that have been introduced or passed in state legislatures across the country. An NPR investigation found that the wave of legislation is part of a national strategy by the fossil fuel industry to eliminate communities’ local control over health, safety, climate and energy issues in response to a wave of local leadership on climate.
Since 2019, dozens of cities around the country have passed policies to incentivize or require all-electric new construction. In Colorado, the City and County of Denver has committed to transitioning off fossil fuels in new construction this decade.
In response to the vote, representatives from Environment Colorado, Conservation Colorado, Western Resource Advocates, Healthy Air & Water Colorado, Physicians for Social Responsibility Colorado, Earthjustice, and Colorado Sierra Club released the following statements:
“Healthy electric homes are gaining momentum as technologies continue to improve. Efficient all-electric construction is often less expensive, less polluting, and safer compared to burning fossil fuels in our buildings. States should encourage, not eradicate, local authority to deliver these benefits for our communities and families.” — Hannah Collazo, State Director, Environment Colorado
“Colorado should be cleaning up its air and working to hit the targets in our climate action plan, not putting big polluter profits in state law. We applaud our pro-conservation leaders on the House Energy & Environmental Committee for voting to protect our health and climate, now and for future generations.” — Sara Rose Tannenbaum, Climate Advocate, Conservation Colorado
“Pollution-free homes and buildings are a key part of reducing the harmful emissions that cause climate change. The use of fossil fuels for heating and cooking accounts for about 10% of climate changing greenhouse gas emissions in our state. Counties and municipalities that want to act on climate change have the right to address these emissions from homes and buildings that harm our public health and indoor air quality. We need all tools available to meet our science-based climate goals.” — Gwen Farnsworth, Senior Energy Policy Advisor, Western Resource Advocates
“All Coloradans deserve to breathe clean air. Burning gas negatively affects our air quality both indoors and outside, causing respiratory illness, increased asthma, and impaired brain function. As an organization that works with frontline health care workers and advocates for policy solutions that benefit health, HB 1034 is a step backwards in promoting better health for Coloradans.” — Michael Ruddock, Policy Manager, Healthy Air & Water Colorado
“This bill was a deceptive effort to ensure that our homes and other buildings remained tethered to gas infrastructure. However, we know that combusting gas to cook, to heat water, and to warm buildings significantly drives climate pollution and causes harmful indoor emissions. Clean alternatives exist, and building electrification is essential to meet our climate goals and protect our health. ” — Rebecca Curry, Colorado Policy Advocate, Earthjustice
“Burning fossil fuels like natural gas in your home for heating and cooking produces indoor air pollution that is harmful to your family. Chronic medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease, and allergies are worsened by exposure to gas combustion pollutants. We encourage local governments to keep their residents safe by limiting polluting indoor gas appliances and promoting adoption of efficient electric technologies for heating and cooking in Colorado homes – both to protect our health and to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change.” — Cory Carroll, MD, PSR Colorado (Physicians for Social Responsibility) Board of Directors
“The Colorado Sierra Club applauds House Energy and Environment committee members for voting down HB 21-1034, a dangerous bill that would tie the hands of local governments when it comes to protecting the health and safety of their residents- making it impossible to take climate action. In order for Colorado to reach our climate goals, every sector of the economy must move as quickly as is feasible to zero carbon emissions- including local governments.” — Jan Douglas, MD, Co-Chair of Legislative Committee, Colorado Sierra Club