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Colorado Senate narrowly passes Climate Action Plan

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May 1, 2019, 1:29 pm

The Colorado Senate on Wednesday passed the Climate Action Plan to Reduce Pollution, or HB 1261, that codifies into law a 2017 executive order by former Gov. John Hickenlooper seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent by 2025.

State Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail

The bill, which already passed the House and will now head back there for a quick review of amendments, will then go to current Gov. Jared Polis for his signature. The bill takes Hickenlooper’s non-binding pledge, makes it the law of the land and then expands on it.

According to its summary, “The bill states that Colorado shall have statewide goals to reduce 2025 greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26%, 2030 greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50%, and 2050 greenhouse gas emissions by at least 90% of the levels of greenhouse gas emissions that existed in 2005.”

The bill passed the Senate on an 18-16 party line vote (with one senator excused), including a yes vote from Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail.

“Climate change is not an abstract global concept in my district. Hunters know animal patterns are adjusting. Skiers know the snowpack is shrinking. Ranchers know weather is shifting. River rats know rivers are changing,” Donovan told RealVail.com via a spokesman.

“My district asked the state to lead on climate change and this is an important step in that direction. Paired with my bill on collecting data, we’ll be able to intelligently move towards protecting what makes Colorado great and make informed decisions to address the impacts of climate change.”

The bill had the support of the ski industry and numerous outdoor gear manufacturing companies in Colorado and nationwide.

Snowsports Industries America (SIA) and more than a dozen outdoor manufacturers, including industry giants like Head and local shops like Minturn’s Weston Backcountry, sent a letter to the Senate last week urging passage of the bill in the waning days of the session.

With a backlog of bills and Republicans mandating the painstaking reading on the floor of every word of every bill, it appeared as if the climate bill might not make it to a vote. The regular session ends Friday.

Here’s the text of the SIA letter:

Dear Colorado Senate Delegation,

We know we have a small and shrinking window to act on climate change. Colorado is already experiencing the impacts of climate change through more severe wildfires, more frequent droughts, and declining snowpack across our state. Colorado’s ski industry generates $5 billion in economic revenue and supports over 46,000 jobs. For those of us who spend time outside each winter and depend on consistent snowfall for our livelihoods, it is abundantly clear that our ski industry is under threat and so too is one of Colorado’s main economic lifelines. These changes will impact the multi-national companies that are based here, as well as our local retailers and mountain communities that depend on tourism in both winter and summer.

Addressing climate change now is imperative if we want to avoid these wide-ranging impacts and protect what our state is famous for, both as a world-famous brand and as the center of the outdoor industry.

The most recent UN climate assessment clearly and urgently states that we must achieve 100% net zero emissions by 2050 or risk irreversible impacts. This is a huge challenge, especially with the federal government rolling back clean air and climate protections. Now is the time for states such as Colorado to lead where Washington won’t and take the steps to limit carbon pollution that scientists say are crucial. We are optimistic – not only that it can be done, but that the investments in Colorado’s future will make our economy stronger and healthier too.

And that’s why HB19-1261 is so important.

This science-based legislation sets economy-wide goals for reducing greenhouse gas pollution in Colorado, 90% by 2050, making us a leader in our approach to progressive energy strategy, in-line with the will of Colorado voters who understand the threat, and the economic opportunity that it presents.

As business representatives of Colorado’s outdoor recreation industry, we urge you to support the Colorado Climate Action Plan, to protect our beloved state from the impacts of climate change and seize this opportunity to drive our economy forward.

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David O. Williams

Managing Editor at RealVail
David O. Williams is an award-winning freelance reporter based in the Vail Valley of Colorado, writing on health care, immigration, politics, the environment, energy, public lands, outdoor recreation and sports. His work has appeared in 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the Colorado Independent, Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Daily Trail (Vail), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the London Daily Mirror, the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, Atlantic Media's RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail and Westword (Denver). Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

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