Colorado isn’t predicted to fall as drastically short of Gov. Jared Polis’ goals for cutting greenhouse-gas emissions as initially thought, according to a new report analyzing bills passed in the General Assembly’s 2021 session.
The report released Monday by Energy Innovation and RMI — formerly Rocky Mountain Institute — follows a similar analysis in May indicating the state would fall drastically short of the governor’s quest to halve emissions from 2005 levels by 2030 and 90% by 2050. Now, Kyle Clark-Sutton, an analyst for Energy Innovation, said the state could be within “spitting distance” of its 2030 goals, but much still hangs in the balance.
In short, some bills passed this year should yield almost immediate results and automatically lead to a 10% cut in emissions by 2030, Clark-Sutton said. Other bills instead sparked rule-making processes, which, once finished, will tighten new ways for state officials to regulate polluters.
But just how much those regulations change is the question, he said. As an example, he pointed to one such effort within the Colorado Department of Transportation to more heavily scrutinize highway expansions and other major road projects while increasing money spent on public transit projects and other alternatives to driving.
Should those rule-making processes stick true to the intent of the bills that started them, like the massive $5.4 billion transportation package of Senate Bill 260 or the sweeping climate bill House Bill 21-1266, Lainie Rowland, another analyst with Energy Innovation, said Colorado could see an additional 30% reduction in emissions.
But reductions could fall far shorter if state agencies like CDOT don’t tighten regulations on polluters as much as they could, Rowland said.
“There’s significant potential there,” she said.
So, in a best-case scenario the state could see up to a 40% cut in emissions by 2030, Rowland said.
“All eyes are on these state rulemaking meetings, which will create the rules that actually drive these emissions down,” Silvio Marcacci, a spokesman for RMI said.
Either way, the progress made this year marks a vast improvement from earlier predictions. Clark-Sutton’s May analysis indicated that the state might only see a 3.4% emissions drop by 2030 and only 18% by 2050.
And more progress can be expected still as the legislature’s 2022 session approaches, Clark-Sutton said.
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