These are all of the energy and environment bills proposed in the 2019 session. Each bill has its own bill number, please use your browser search feature to find the bill you are interested in. Return to the Colorado home page to pick a different bill category.

None of the text is the opinion of Engage. Each bill's description, arguments for, and arguments against are our best effort at describing what each bill does, arguments for, and arguments against the bill. The long description is hidden by design, you can click on it to expand it if you want to read more detail about the bill. If you believe we are missing something, please contact us with your suggestion. Some of these bills have the notation that they have been sent to the chamber's "kill" committee. This means that the leadership has decided to send the bill to the State committee even though it does not belong there based on its subject matter. This committee, in both chambers, is stacked with members from "safe" districts and the idea is to kill the bill without forcing any less safe members to take a hard vote. It is possible for a bill to survive the kill committee, but it is very rare.

Prime sponsors are given after each bill, with Senate sponsors in () and House sponsors in []. They are color-coded by party.

Some bills will have text highlighted in pink or highlighted in orange. Pink highlights mean House amendments to the original bill; orange mean Senate amendments. The bill will say under the header if it has been amended.

Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Major, Medium, Minor, and Technical. This is a combination of the change the bill would create and the "controversy" level of the bill. Some minor bills that are extending current programs would be major changes if they were introducing something new, but the entire goal here is to allow you to better curate your time. Something uncontroversial likely to pass nearly unanimously that continues a past program may not be worth your time (and please remember, you can still read all of the minor bills!). Technical bills are here to round out the list. They are non-substantive changes.

HB19-1003 Community Solar Gardens Modernization Act [Hansen]

AMENDED: Moderate

PASSED

Short Description:

Makes it easier to belong to a community solar garden and increases their maximum size to 5 10 megawatts. Allows up to 10 megawatt gardens by rule of commission in 2023. Community solar gardens are solar array with multiple subscribers who can purchase a portion of the power produced and receive a credit on their electric bill. They are designed for people who cannot host solar systems on their roofs. Adds requirements for solar gardens above 2 megawatts.

Long Description:

Changes the requirements for a community solar garden by increasing the maximum size to 5 10 megawatts (from 2) and removing the requirement that a subscriber’s physical location must be in the same county or in an adjacent county to the solar garden while retaining requirement that it must be within service territory of electric utility. Community solar gardens are solar array with multiple subscribers who can purchase a portion of the power produced and receive a credit on their electric bill. They are designed for people who cannot host solar systems on their roofs. Adds requirements for solar gardens above 2 megawatts, including all on-site electrical work subject to supervision by licensed master electrician, licensed journeyman electrician, or licensed residential wireman. A qualifying utility must use its own workers to operate and maintain equipment.

Arguments For:

A recent National Renewable Energy Laboratory report finds that 49% of households and 48% of businesses are unable to host photovoltaic (PV) solar systems on their rooftops because they rent their spaces or have a lack of suitable owned roof space. Community solar addresses this issue and makes a clean energy option available to more people. The size restrictions in the current program are outdated and restricting users to the county or adjacent county where the energy is generated no longer reflects the reality of solar.

Arguments Against:

Someone who is located near the actual solar garden should not be treated the same way as someone who is across the state from it. Opening up the subscriber base to anyone in the same service area could cause more cost to actually get that solar energy to the end user from across the state.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1003

HB19-1026 Parks and Wildlife Violations of Law (Coram, Donovan) [Catlin, McCluskie]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Short Description:

Doubles numerous fines for violating state hunting, fishing, and parks statutes and changes where the fine money goes in favor of more money going to the parks and wildlife division. If a parks and wildlife officer issues the citation all of the money goes to the relevant parks and wildlife division; if a peace officer issues the citation then ½ goes to the relevant parks and wildlife division and ½ to the agency of the peace officer.

Long Description:

Doubles numerous fines for violating state hunting, fishing, and parks statutes (which have not been changed since 2003) and changes where the fine money goes: if a parks and wildlife officer issues the citation all of the money goes to the relevant parks and wildlife division; if a peace officer issues the citation then ½ goes to the relevant parks and wildlife division and ½ to the agency of the peace officer. Previously all fines were split 50/50.

Arguments For:

These fines have not been increased since 2003 and are no longer sufficient to deter violations. The money from them will help the parks and wildlife division increase the number of hunters and fishers in the state and invest more money in state parks.

Arguments Against:

The raises are too high, doubling the amounts after 16 years of no changes is not appropriate. Draining some of this money from local law enforcement may hurt their budgets and may also incentivize their officers to put more focus than they should on catching people breaking these rules so that the local agency can still get ½ of the fine.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1026

HB19-1037 Colorado Energy Impact Assistance Act [Hansen]

AMENDED: Moderate

KILLED BY SPONSOR

Short Description:

Authorizes any electric utility to apply to the public utilities commission to issue low-cost bonds to lower the cost to customers when a power plant is retired by refinancing the retiring plant. A portion of the bond proceeds will go to providing transition assistance to workers and communities affected by the closure.

Long Description:

Authorizes any electric utility to apply to the public utilities commission to issue low-cost bonds to lower the cost to customers when a power plant is retired. To lower the cost of the bonds, the commission is authorized to approve a special energy impact assistance charge on all customer bills (this allows the bonds to achieve at least an AA/Aa2 rating). A portion of the bond proceeds will go to providing transition assistance to workers and communities affected by the closure via a newly created Colorado energy impact assistance authority. Transition assistance includes payment of retraining costs (including apprenticeship programs and skilled worker retraining programs), direct financial assistance, compensation to local governments for lost tax revenue, and similar programs for areas that produced fuel used directly in the closed plant. At least 50% of the funds dispersed by the authority must go to workers, unless 15 or fewer employers are affected or the local advisory committee feels 50% would be excessive. In these cases the percentage is 30%. No money can go to a local government if that money would trigger a TABOR refund.

Before approving any bonds, the commission must hold a public hearing and make specific determinations concerning the necessity, prudence, justness, reasonableness, and quantifiable benefits to utility customers of issuing the bonds. The commission must include instructions on approved bonds for the bond amount, the imposition of the impact assistance charge, and the amount required from the utility for transition assistance.

Alternatively, if a utility needs to close a plant, it may transfer up to 15% of the net of the operational savings generated by the plant closure to the transition assistance authority.


Arguments For:

Colorado’s electric utilities will continue to face the need to retire existing facilities to reduce rates and ensure the health and well-being of Colorado natural environment and residents. But the closure of these facilities may have a direct negative impact on communities where they are located and communities where fuel for them is produced. Colorado energy consumers are still footing the bill for plants that have long since been closed. The alternative financing bond mechanism this bill lays out is similar to what is currently used by more than 20 other states and will result in lower costs to consumers. Using this mechanism on one plant in Florida in 2013 is going to save customers there $700 million over 20 years. Using them can ensure that both the costs of retiring electric generating facilities and the transition costs for affected communities can be financed in a way that reduces the total cost of customer rates. The way to our clean energy future runs through transitioning our communities and our electric utilities. Electricity is now frequently cheaper from renewables than from aging coal-fired plants. This bill is the best way to navigate that tricky road. Xcel has already announced the closure of two coal plants ahead of schedule. The clock is ticking.

Arguments Against:

While well-intentioned, this bill provides positive incentives for utilities to close down plants early (and we are really talking about coal plants here) and could be devastating to both the communities where the plants are located as well as the coal producing areas of the state, beyond the ability of transition assistance funds to meet. Retraining is not some sort of magic bullet for communities that rely on these industries, there is some harm that you can’t spend your way out of.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1037

HB19-1091 Conservation Easement Transparency [Lewis]

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Short Description:

Requires the county clerk and recorder to submit a complete copy of any conservation easement agreement, amendment, or transfer to the state commissioner of agriculture and the county tax assessor. The commissioner must then make a tracking form. All forms to be available on a public part of its website. Commissioner must also create a database for all easements in the state since 1997 and keep it updated going forward. Allows property owners to remove easements that have had any tax credits associated with them disallowed. If the owner does this, state must reimburse them for all reasonable costs associated with creating easement as well as any tax liability.

Long Description:

Requires the county clerk and recorder to submit a complete copy of any conservation easement agreement, amendment, or transfer to the state commissioner of agriculture and the county tax assessor. The commissioner must then make a tracking form, including at a minimum the date of the agreement, names and addresses of the grantor and grantee, legal description of property, number of acres being conserved, conservation purpose of easement, and reception number for easement. All forms to be available on a public part of its website. Commissioner must also create a database for all easements in the state since 1997 and keep it updated going forward. Database to include, to extent possible, location and acreage of each easement, names and addresses of grantors and names and addresses of any holders of easement since its creation, if the holder is a certified organization, conservation purposes of easement, any deeds, contracts, or other instruments affecting the easement, and the amount of tax credits claimed for the easement and amount of those credits transferred to another taxpayer. Database must have mapping ability and corresponding map displaying all easements. Allows property owners to remove easements that have had any tax credits associated with them disallowed. If the owner does this, state must reimburse them for all reasonable costs associated with creating easement as well as any tax liability.


Arguments For:

Approximately 14-18% of all easements created in the state have been disallowed: the appraised value is almost always lower than initial amount provided to the landowner and the easement itself makes it more difficult for the owner to sell the property or secure financing related to the property. Worse, the easement binds all future owners as well. We desperately need more transparency into the process statewide to make sure that anyone buying a property knows what they are getting into, not just with an easement but also its history of tax credits. The current owner can be held liable for the improper actions of a previous owner: the liability is four years after the credit was first claimed, regardless of any transfer of property in the interim. The existing national conservation easement database is not an official government project but a public-private one funded by grants and estimates that it has 25% of the easements in Colorado held by public entities and 73% of those held by non-profits in its database. Not good enough.

Arguments Against:

This is a massive amount of work for very little payoff: there is already a national conservation easement database that for sure is a work in progress, but there may be no magic wands that the state can waive to get information any more quickly or better than is already happening. Another way to look at the easement disallowment statistic is that approximately 82-86% of all easements in the state have been fine, there’s no reason to mess with a process that is working in its intent to protect our environment.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1091

HB19-1113 Protect Water Quality Adverse Mining Impacts (Donovan) [Roberts, McLachlan]

AMENDED: Minor

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Currently, mining operations are able to use endless water treatment as a valid option for mitigating impacts of mining on water quality. This bill requires reclamation plans to have an end date where no further treatment is required to maintain water quality. Miners are also currently able to present their own financial statements as proof of the ability meet its reclamation requirements instead of a bond or other outside financial assurance. This bill eliminates this self-bonding option.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

The state currently oversees water treatment plants designed to run in perpetuity to reduce water contamination. The annual cost of just one of these, along the Alamosa River, is expected to reach $2.2 million in 2022. A recent study showed that Colorado was 4th in the nation for higher than permitted releases of containments into water. This bill is just a small step in addressing this problem, by making sure we don’t make it worse in the future. As for self-bonding, Colorado is now only one of 7 states nationwide that allows this sort of self-dealing. The entire point of a bond is to provide assurance that if something happens to the company, the public and the environment is still protected.

Arguments Against:

This would make it much more difficult to conduct mining operations in the state, harming the overall economy and potentially costing some people their jobs. It is just not reasonable to expect all mining operations to be able to meet the end date standard required by the bill, so the effect might make it very difficult to open new mines.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1113

HB19-1143 Distribute Plastic Straws Only Upon Request (Fields, Priola) [Lontine]

AMENDED: Moderate

KILLED BY SPONSOR

Short Description: Prohibits a restaurant, food vendor, or other food service establishment from providing a single-use plastic straw unless the customer asks for one. Waiters are allowed to ask if people want straws. This does not apply to self-serve, drive-through or off-premises service, or prepackaged foods. Bans local governments from regulating use of single-use plastic straws. Local governments can opt-out of these requirements, which would also allow them to move in both directions, more or less stringent.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

Plastics do not biodegrade, they instead photodegrade into smaller and smaller pieces that eventually get into animals and then into our food chain. Plastic straws are mostly too lightweight to make it through mechanical recycling sorters. And it is estimated that in America, we use over 500 million plastic straws a day. Yes, that’s right, a day. We are facing some truly scary ocean pollution risks when it comes to plastic, in terms of overall pollution and corruption of the food chain. Seattle has banned them, Starbucks is phasing them out, and McDonald’s has removed them from its U.K. locations. This is not even an outright ban, just a way to reduce straw usage only to those that seek them out, rather than foist them on everyone and continue to multiply our problem. We have to start somewhere, and this (with replacement products available and a product that isn’t even a necessity most of the time) is a great place to do it. To not do it because it doesn't solve the problem is a mindset that rules out attacking most of the problems in our society, which usually require multi-faceted solutions. Our plastic problem is urgent, a true emergency, so we also cannot wait for societal pressures and trends to sort this out over a longer time-frame.

Arguments Against:

Eight million tons of plastic flows into the ocean each year and plastic straws account for 0.025 percent of that total. This just isn’t going to do much to fix the problem of plastic pollution in our oceans and will instead inconvenience Coloradans who want to use a straw but suddenly have to ask for one. And note the phrasing here, straws have to be asked for. So waiters cannot ask a customer if they want a straw, the customer has to ask for it themselves. Every time you get food in a restaurant, you have to ask the waiter or waitress for a straw for your drink. This bill is a flashy concept that fails on the positive effect/negative drawback balance.

This bill is unnecessary as restaurants are already moving in this direction to save money themselves, so we don't need to bring the hammer down and cause inconvenience for the those who do need a straw. With no enforcement measures in the bill, it won't really do much of anything except inconvenience a few folks.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1143

HB19-1159 Modify Innovative Motor Vehicle Income Tax Credits (Danielson) [Jaquez Lewis, Gray]

AMENDED: Moderate

PASSED

Short Description:

Extends some of the state tax credits for purchasing or leasing an electric or hybrid motor vehicle.

Long Description:

Extends the state tax credits for purchasing or leasing an electric or hybrid motor vehicle. There are three tiers of credits, $5,000, $7,000, $10,000, and $20,000 for passenger vehicle, light truck, medium truck, and heavy truck purchase and ½ those amounts for leases as tier 1. This tier is left unchanged and will still expire in 2020. Tier 2, set to begin after tier 1 ends and expire in 2021, is extended to 2023 and is $4,000, $5,500, $8,000, and $16,000 respectively. Tier 3, set to begin after tier 2 ends and is $2,500, $3,500, $5,000, and $10,000, expire in 2022 is extended to 2026 2023. Tier 4, begins after tier 3 ends, and is $2,000, $2,800, $4,000 ,and $8,000. Set to end in 2026.


Arguments For:

One of the most important things we can do to combat climate change is covert our dirty fuel burning vehicles to clean electric. Not only will we appreciate the cleaner air, we’ll also cut down on the climate destructive extraction process to get the fuel for our gas burning cars out of the Earth. We will lessen our dependence on foreign sources of gasoline and we will help drive the economy of tomorrow, not the economy of the past. These tax credits help encourage consumers to buy these cleaner vehicles and make it easier on manufacturers, who are still scaling up production efficiencies and battery efficiencies (which eventually brings costs down).

Arguments Against:

Electric and hybrid cars don’t need the help anymore, they have clearly arrived. To extend these tax credits at this point is merely subsidizing already profitable and growing industries and a waste of the state’s money. This change is happening and will continue to happen without more money being thrown at it.

The state should not be in the business of picking winners and losers in any market, and granting these huge tax credits to electric and hybrid cars does exactly that. Let the market decide, if people want to buy these cars and trucks they are more than welcome to, but the manufacturers should not get a boost over everyone else.

Oil and gas development is a part of Colorado’s economic well-being and driving people away from gasoline cars has the potential to hurt our state’s economy.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1159

HB19-1165 On-Site Wind Turbine Manufacturing Property Tax Exemption (Donovan, Hisey) [Pelton]

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Short Description:

Creates a property tax exemption for materials used to construct wind turbines at the site they will be placed into service so long as the property is used exclusively for that purpose. Exemption ends in 2030.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

With wind turbines, the bigger the better. But physical limits on the diameter of wind turbine towers that can be transported on state highways has been a limitation. However, new technology allows for the construction of towers at the site where the turbine is to be used. We need to encourage the construction of larger wind turbines through tax incentives as part of the state’s move toward renewable energy. We are quite literally creating the infrastructure for Colorado’s energy of the future and helping mitigate the impacts of catastrophic climate change with the creation of more wind energy. The financial implications will be small in terms of property tax lost and the long-term gains from the business being in the county will outweigh any losses. No counties are against it.

Arguments Against:

The state should not be picking winners and losers in the energy field to this degree. If wind energy can provide cheaper electricity than the market will help these wind farms construct these giant towers, without the aid of tax incentives. If not, then all we are doing is setting up a rickety structure that may fall apart once the tax incentives are gone.

This will be a drain on property taxes, which goes to counties, and which goes to schools. Counties could do this themselves already, so any county that wants this can do it now. Anyone that doesn't will be forced to. This is an issue of local control: local tax jurisdictions should be making these decisions, not the state.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1165

HB19-1188 Greenhouse Gas Pollution Impact in Fiscal Notes [Sirota, Snyder]

PASSED

Goal: To get assessments on the impact of bills on our climate into relevant bill’s fiscal notes.

Short Description:

Requires the non-partisan legislative council staff, which prepares fiscal notes for each bill introduced at the state legislature, to include an assessment of whether or not the bill will cause an increase or decrease in greenhouse gas emissions in the state. The staff does not need to estimate the size of the impact.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

The fiscal note is the gospel that all legislators adhere to when considering the impact a bill will have on state finances. As we face the dangers of climate change we must also always consider the impact a bill may have on our climate, so our legislators can be on sure footing when considering if a bill is going to make our problem worse or make it better.

Arguments Against:

We already know the answer in most cases, we don’t need the legislative staff, in particular if we aren’t going to ask them to assess how much a bill will impact the climate (and it’s a good thing we aren’t or we’d never get any fiscal notes in a timely manner). This just wastes their time and slows down an already difficult process.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1188

HB19-1231 New Appliance Energy and Water Efficiency Standards [Froelich, Kipp]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Goal: To increase usage of energy and water efficient appliances in the state by restricting sale of non-efficient appliances.

Description:

Phases in requirement that all energy and water appliances across a broad spectrum of listed categories meet energy or water efficiency categories (a combination of federal and other state standards are mostly used).

Additional Information:

Appliances and standards requirements:

  • Plumbing fixtures (faucets, showers, urinals, toilets) that is not a WaterSense (federal standard) listed fixture. Faucets must also not exceed certain maximum flow rates.
  • Air compressors that don’t meet federal Energy Conservation program standards
  • Commercial dishwashers, fryers, hot food cabinets, steam cookers that don’t meet EnergyStar 2.0 standards (federal)
  • Computers and computer monitors that don’t meet state standards
  • Light-bulbs that don’t meet state standards
  • Portable air conditioners that don’t have combined efficiency ratio greater or equal to standards in bill.
  • Portable electric spas that don’t meet American National Standard for Portable Electric Spa Efficiency (federal)
  • Residential ventilating fans that don’t meet EnergyStar 3.2 standards (federal)
  • Spray sprinkler bodies that don’t meet WaterSense 1.0 standards (federal)
  • Uninterruptible power supplies that don’t meet federal Energy Conservation program standards
  • Water coolers that don’t meet EnergyStar 2.0 standards and must have defined no-water draw energy consumption with at least certain kilowatt hours per-day standards listed in bill.


Arguments For:

Adopting more efficient technologies and fixtures both saves our environment in terms of power and water requirements and can potentially save tens of millions of dollars annually in consumer costs. These standards are already in place in other places, so we do not have to all of the up-front work to bring all of this into being. And although industry is already moving in this direction, we can get in on the front edge and generate the highest savings. And in a state with serious water issues, paying close attention to high water efficiency is even more important, because the decisions of one consumer affect us all in terms of water and energy usage.

Arguments Against:

Our market works best when it works free. By restricting sales to appliances that meet these standards we are putting barriers into the market that restrict choice and may cause higher prices that people will have a harder time meeting. The way it is now is that people who want a high efficiency appliance can buy them, people who are less concerned can buy a lower-cost appliance that meets their needs (which we should not be determining for them).

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1231

HB19-1259 Species Conservation Trust Fund Projects (Donovan) [Roberts, Pelton]

PASSED

Goal: To allocate money from the species trust conservation fund for specific species identified as threatened or endangered.

Description:

Allocates $3.9 million from the species conservation trust fund for programs submitted by department of natural resources that are designed to conserve native species that state or federal law list as threatened or endangered or that are candidate species or are likely to become candidate species. Transfers $5 million from severance tax fund to the species conservation fund for next five years.

Additional Information:

$3.9 million to be spent as follows:

  • Native terrestrial wildlife conservation, $615,500
  • Native aquatic wildlife conservation, $839,000
  • Platte river recovery implementation program, $1,940,000
  • Colorado river basin native fish recovery programs, $205,500
  • Federal endangered species act litigation program, $300,000


Arguments For:

This is precisely what this fund is for, to use taxes from oil and gas activities to fund nature conservation for helping species in danger. We have a process in place to generate the program list and what they need and we should follow it.

Arguments Against:

We shouldn’t be spending state resources on protecting other species, no matter how endangered they may be. It’s not a lot of money, but it could be better spent.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1259

HB19-1260 Building Energy Codes (Winter) [Kipp, A. Valdez]

PASSED

Goal: To have local jurisdictions using the most up-to-date energy conservation standards when updating their building codes.

Description: Requires local jurisdictions to adopt one of the three most recent versions of the international energy conservation code, at a minimum, when updating building codes. Also encourages these jurisdictions to update the state energy office on any changes to their codes.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

Using the most up-to-date energy codes incorporates new building technologies, techniques, and materials and offer more options for builders. Businesses and residents in low-income communities and rural areas deserve at least the same durability, health and safety, and energy cost savings as those in wealthier, urban, and suburban parts of the state.

Arguments Against:

This is too much of a one-size fits all solution, as some areas of the state may struggle with these higher standards. While they are not forced to update now, they may just put off important building code changes in order to avoid having to adopt these standards.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1260

HB19-1261 Climate Action Plan to Reduce Pollution (Winter, Williams) [Becker, Jackson]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Goal: To reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a gradual manner to 90% of 2005 levels by 2050.

Description:

Sets state greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals of 26% of 2005 levels by 2025, 50% by 2030, and 90% by 2050. Directs the state air quality commission to implement rules and regulations. These should include, in addition to renewable energy strategies, also look at zero emission technologies, enhanced cost-effectiveness, compliance flexibility, and transparency around compliance costs. Air quality commission is to consult with public utilities commission, which is to try to decrease greenhouse gas from state electricity sales 80% by 2030. Rules must not require any specific mix of electric generating resources.

Additional Information:

Commission is tasked with soliciting input from communities most impacted by climate change and from workers in communities that are currently economically dependent on industries with high levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Commission may coordinate with other jurisdictions and account for reductions in emissions in other states from electricity that is bought here. Commission must consider: benefits of compliance, including health, environmental, and air quality; relative contribution of each source to statewide emissions; importance of trying to equitably distribute benefits of compliance; opportunities to incentivize renewable energy in disproportionately impacted communities; opportunities to incentivize clean energy in transitioning communities; and potential to enhance resilience of state communities and natural resources to climate impacts.


Arguments For:

Scientists have estimated that we must stop virtually all fossil fuel burning by 2050 to avoid the full devastating impacts of climate change. Climate change is real and it is happening. We keep piling up record highs and collecting top 5 record warmest years. We have seen increased flooding in coastal areas and more dangerous storms (how many 100 year weather events can we have in the space of a few years?) The entire world agrees, renewable energy is the future and Colorado is uniquely positioned to capitalize. Solar and wind are in abundance in this state, and high standards push us toward creating the green jobs of the future, not the dirty jobs of the past. Putting this into law makes it a target the state has to try to hit, which will spur efforts from public and private entities to make it happen. We cannot predict what green technologies will look like in ten years, but we can say where we want to be in 30 years: still living on a planet where Miami is a viable place to live.

Arguments Against:

This bill could be terrible for the Colorado economy, as it might doom non-renewable energy sources. That’s a lot of jobs that may not be so easily replaced by so-called green jobs. The bill makes noises about involving communities impacted by any switch but contains no real teeth for doing so. With all of its incentives toward crazy reduction goals, it seems likely these communities will be trampled along the way. The oil is here, in Colorado. While it’s true that so are sun and wind, much more economic activity can be derived from extracting oil and gas right now than putting up solar panels and wind turbines. The way to the future is an all of the above energy plan, which is exactly what the state is currently doing.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1261

HB19-1264 Conservation Easement Tax Credit Modifications (Winter, Donovan) [Roberts, Wilson]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Goal: To extend the conservation easement program through 2026 and make some changes to the program.

Description:

Extends the conservation easement program, set to expire this year, through 2026. Makes numerous small changes to the program:

  • Allows the division of conservation to use an alternative method to a qualified appraisal to determine value of a conservation easement. This alternative method is left to the commission to devise but must be approved by the legislature.
  • Allow conservation easements to be ended by joint request of the property owner and conservation easement owner if a court agrees that it is no longer possible for the terms of the easement to be fulfilled. Ends ability to end a conservation easement by merging the rights of the easement with the property owner.
  • Increases value of easement that can be claimed as tax credit from 75% to 90%, with a cap of $5 million.
  • Gives $250,000 to Colorado State University for facilitating public access to the state’s database and map of easements and other protected lands in the state.

Additional Information:

  • Eliminates a requirement that board of real estate appraisers establish education and experience requirements for conservation easement appraisers
  • Requires property owner to execute a disclosure form developed by state regarding the easement
  • Alternative method is to be created by working group in conjunction with department of law and department of revenue. Must include easement holders, taxpayers who have claimed easement tax credits, easement appraisers, conservation attorneys, and representatives from the two previously mentioned agencies as well as the department of regulatory agencies.
  • Working group must also devise a method of retroactively awarding tax credits to taxpayers who claimed credits between 2000 and 2013 but were denied in whole or part but would have gotten credits now due to changes in law in 2014. Group must determine eligibility requirements.
  • Credits must be issued in maximum of $1.5 million per year, with priority given to credits earned through a donation in prior years.


Arguments For:

Conservation easements provide a valuable tool for us to maintain areas of our natural environment while recompensing property owners for their trouble and for the reduced value the easement places on the property. They are entirely voluntary and so far we’ve protected over 2.2 million acres around the state. From protecting Palisade peaches to tourism, a study found that easements have delivered $6 of value for every $1 invested by the state. The bill makes some updates to the program to deal with potential problems: the lack of a publicly available database of easements, increasing the amount of tax credit, some retroactive credits folks should be eligible for, and the problems with the appraisal process that has led to disputes between landowners and the state.

Arguments Against:

The fact that these agreements are permanent means they permanently tie the hands of whomever owns the property, regardless of whether or not they were the owners who wanted the easement in the first place. The state has now expended over $1 billion in tax credits over the life of this program and we are still struggling with basic questions like no centrally available database of easements around the state (as this bill tries to address). Appraisals can sit for months while the state sits on the fees associated with the program that can balloon to over $10,000. Simple tinkering with the program is not enough, we need to start over from scratch.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1264

HB19-1279 Protect Public Health Firefighter Safety Regulation PFAS Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (Lee, Hisey) [Exum, Landgraf]

PASSED

Goal: To drastically slow the usage of dangerous chemicals in firefighting.

Description:

Bans use of class B firefighting foam containing intentionally added perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) for training purposes. Bans sale of PFAS foam starting in August 2021 except for limited circumstances. Requires foam manufacturers with PFAS intentionally added to the foam to notify in writing sellers of the product in Colorado about this ban. Requires manufacturers or sellers of firefighting personal protective equipment to provide written notice to purchaser if the equipment contains intentionally added PFAS chemicals. Violating any of these laws results in a civil penalty with maximum fine of $5,000 for first offense, $10,000 for subsequent offenses. State must collect PFAS data from fire departments every three years.

Additional Information:

PFAS foam would still be allowed where it is required by federal law, for use at fuel storage and distribution facilities assigned a terminal number by the IRS, and at chemical plants.


Arguments For:

PFAS chemicals do not break down in the environment and are toxic to people and wildlife at very low levels. Ingesting even small amounts can cause cancer and other serious health problems. Exposure to PFAS chemicals is linked to kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid problems, pregnancy complications, high cholesterol, and immune system disorders. Firefighters and first responders are exposed to these chemicals at work and nearly every American has measurable amounts in their bodies. We have already contaminated the drinking water of 100,000 Coloradans (that we know of) and the Widefield Aquifer in Fountain, Colorado, is permanently contaminated. These chemicals are not necessary to put out high temperature fires, some major airports have not been using them for years and Washington state is banning their usage starting next year. On the gear, scientists and health experts have determined this poses a hazard for first responders.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1279

HB19-1313 Electric Utility Plans to Further Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions (Winter) [Becker]

AMENDED: Minor

KILLED ON SENATE CALENDAR (but substantially moved to amendment of SB236)

Goal: To reduce state carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation to 0 by 2050 through leveraging our larger public utilities into adopting clean energy.

Description:

Establishes new targets for reduction of carbon dioxide from electricity generation by utilities serving more than 500,000 customers of an 80% reduction compared to 2005 levels by 2030 and 100% reduction by 2050. Other utilities can opt-in. These utilities must submit a clean energy plan to the public utilities commission that details how they will meet these targets, including plans to support workers who lose their jobs during the transition. Utilities can recoup 1/2 their implementation costs through rate increases and must use a competitive bidding process for any future electric resources. The plan must be approved by the state and then the utility must report on its progress.

Additional Information:

Plans must contain what new facilities and resources will need to be acquired, the effect of the plan on the safety and reliability of electricity, costs of implementation, reductions in emissions, if any existing facilities are going to be retired and if so, number of workers impacted and the supports offered in transition for them. Commission must consider if the plan will meet reduction goals, if it will impact the electric grid negatively, and if it will result in reasonable costs to consumers. The commission may not accept a plan that will lower the electric grid’s reliability. If the plan is rejected, a utility can submit another plan but is not required to. Utilities are allowed to own up to 50% of the energy and capacity associated with the energy resources created to meet bill objectives.


Arguments For:

Climate change is real and it is happening. We keep piling up record highs and collecting top 5 record warmest years. We have seen increased flooding in coastal areas and more dangerous storms (how many 100 year weather events can we have in the space of a few years?) The entire world agrees, renewable energy is the future and Colorado is uniquely positioned to capitalize. Solar and wind are in abundance in this state, and high standards push us toward creating the green jobs of the future, not the dirty jobs of the past. Technology continues to push prices down, and will continue to do so in the future. Companies ranging from Apple, Google and Facebook to General Motors, Johnson & Johnson and Coca Cola have already committed to going 100% renewable. So have cities like Rochester, Minn., San Diego, Georgetown, Texas, St. Petersburg, Fla., Greensburg, Kan., and Burlington, Vt. And so have universities from Colorado State University to Cornell. In many states, wind is already cheaper than gas or coal. Last year Xcel energy had median bids for wind+storage and solar+storage both cheaper than coal. The median bid for solar+storage was the cheapest EVER. That’s the middle bid, not the lowest. Scientists have estimated that we must stop virtually all fossil fuel burning by 2050 to avoid the full devastating impacts of climate change. We are already bumping toward our previously determined requirement for renewable energy, now is the time to make the big push, our moon shot, toward a better future for our children.

Arguments Against:

This bill would be terrible for the Colorado economy, as it would doom non-renewable energy sources. Coal provides more than ½ of our net power generation right now, while natural gas provides ¼. 1,300 workers are employed in state coal mines, and many more at power plants. That’s a lot of jobs that may not be so easily replaced by so-called green jobs. The gas and coal is here, in Colorado. While it’s true that so are sun and wind, much more economic activity can be derived from extraction than putting up solar panels and wind turbines. The way to the future is an all of the above energy plan, which is exactly what the state is currently doing. Even proponents of this bill acknowledge that the technology to make this happen does not exist. And it is written right into the bill how this is going to be paid for: increased costs for all consumers for electricity. Why should Coloradans have to bear the brunt of this while other states and other countries in the world continue to emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere? Our efforts alone are not going to stop climate change, so we should not be cutting off our nose to spite our face here. If there is even a concerted national push then we can get on-board knowing we would be making a difference.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1313

HB19-1314 Just Transition from Coal-Based Electrical Energy Economy (Winter, Donovan) [Becker, Galindo]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Goal: To create a transition program to aid coal workers and communities affected by the transition away from coal-based power.

Description:

Creates the Just Transition Office, which will begin to administer benefits in 2025 in 2023 or when the office has sufficient funds to start, to coal workers and their families and communities affected by transition away from coal-based power. The office has an advisory committee to help flesh out all of its roles and functions. It must determine how to identify a coal transition worker who deserves benefits, what funding that worker should be provided for wage replacement for 3 years, and how to provide employment and training services. It must create grant application criteria for communities trying to transition away from a coal-based economy. These should have a comprehensive economic development strategy, represent a partnership of diverse people in the community, and be matched at reasonable rates by non-state funds. It must also look for state and federal resources that could be eligible for this fund. Bill also requires any public utility that is going to retire a coal-fired plant of at least 50 megawatts to submit a workforce transition plan to the state at least 90 days prior to plant closure. Must include estimates of what will happen to workers.

Additional Information:

Money for grants can only be spent once all coal workers are taken care of. Grants must achieve at least one of the following outcomes:

  • Economic diversification of the commercial or industrial bases of local and regional economies
  • Creation of high-quality new jobs
  • Reemployment of coal workers
  • Economic development targeted at neighborhoods within communities that have been disproportionately impacted by coal-related pollution
  • Leverage new sources of public and private job and wealth-creating investment
  • Provision a range of workforce services and skills training for coal and low-income workers in the community

Advisory council includes:

Ex-Officio:

  • Executive director of department of labor
  • Director of office of economic development
  • Director of Colorado energy office
  • Executive director of department of local affairs
  • Representative of the governor

Others:

  • A member from each legislative body, appointed by head of that body (Speaker for House, President for Senate)
  • Three representatives from coal transition communities
  • Three representatives of the general public


Arguments For:

Coal provides more than ½ of our net power generation right now, while natural gas provides ¼. 1,300 workers are employed in state coal mines, and many more at power plants. But coal is dying as a power generator, even without more stringent action by the national government or states, as wind and solar become cheaper to produce than coal energy, even when storage is accounted for. And many states in the country, including Colorado, are not just sitting back when it comes to clean energy. Ever increasing clean energy requirements with the eventual goal of eradication of coal-produced energy are coming. The effects could be devastating to these communities. These are high-quality jobs and have been among the best in many of these communities for decades. And they will not be easy to replace. So we need a coordinated plan to help these communities and workers successfully make the transition from a dying industry to new jobs and new industries. That is what this bill does, in a careful manner to ensure that we have dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s before starting.

Arguments Against:

The economy kills industries all the time, big and small, and we do not step in as a government to say we need to hand out money to the workers and communities affected. Technology in particular can be a cruel double-edged sword. Computers, cars, electricity, all of these major inventions displaced existing economies and forced companies, workers, and communities to adapt. And they will adapt again, without millions of dollars of taxpayer money lavished on them.

This bill has too long a ramp-up period. By 2025 it will be too late for many of these workers and communities who will already have been displaced. If the bill was serious about helping these communities it would start doing so at the latest in 2020 or perhaps even 2021. Surely we can create a working program in a year.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1314

SB19-034 Local Government Recycling Standards for Food Containers (Moreno) [Arndt]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSOR

Short Description:

Allows a local government to set a standard for a retail food establishment’s use of ready-to-eat food containers that may be discarded through recycling or composting.

Long description:

Currently state law preempts local governments from restricting or mandating containers for any consumer products. Allows a local government to set a standard for a retail food establishment’s use of ready-to-eat food containers that may be discarded through recycling or composting. When two local governments with jurisdiction over the same geographic area have different standards, the more stringent is to be used.

Arguments For:

Recycling and composting rules can vary by location, this bill lets local governments set the rules that will best suit their area. If a local government wants to ban styrofoam in these cases, or other similarly wasteful products like plastic bags, we should let them decide, so long as they are not less strict than the state.

Arguments Against:

Draconian rules against styrofoam or plastic bags or other such materials could increase costs for restaurants in these local areas, which will almost certainly pass those costs on to consumers. It could also cause massive headaches for chains which operate in multiple locations.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-034

SB19-045 Clarify Radiation Advisory Committee Compensation (Moreno) [Hooton]

SIGNED INTO LAW

From the Statutory Revision Committee

Short Description:

Clarifies that members of the radiation advisory committee are reimbursed for expenses incurred in the business of the committee.

Long Description: n/a

SB19-053 California Motor Vehicle Emission Standards (Cooke)

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Short Description:

Prohibits the state’s air quality control commission from adopting motor vehicle emission standards that are stricter than federal standards and from adopting California motor vehicle emission standards and test procedures unless they are the same as federal standards.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

This is an unelected board that should not have the right to circumvent the state legislature. It has acted on an executive order from Governor Hickenlooper last year to adopt California’s standards, which will require vehicles sold in the state to average 36 miles per gallon by 2025. The auto industry is already working toward lower vehicle emissions and it is not necessary to force stricter guidelines than those the federal government and federal Environmental Protection Agency deem are proper to ensure an orderly transition to higher fuel economy vehicles. The impact from a rushed move will fall on consumers in the form of higher prices. This is Colorado, not California and we should not be tying our rules to theirs. We have a different way of life here and should not be taking rules and regulations from other states. And certainly not without a vote of our state’s elected state legislature.

Arguments Against:

This move was made because the Trump administration is threatening to lower the federal standards and we rightly worry that accelerated global climate change is a strong possibility of not forcing automakers to get more fuel efficient more quickly. Beyond the devastating potential impacts of climate change, air pollution impacts the economy and impacts our health. The smog that can sometimes hang over the Denver area is something we should all want to get rid of and a prime contributor is air pollution from our cars. Also, this notion that automakers are going to ignore the 40 million people in the 5th largest economy in the world (California on its own would qualify as such) is silly. If California makes these rules, automakers in the US aren’t going to come up with some sort of complicated scheme whereby they can squeak by in California but pollute more in other states. They are going to adjust to the California market, which is also already joined in its potentially stricter standards by 12 other states and Washington D.C.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-053

SB19-054 Military Vehicle Motor Vehicle Regulation (Crowder) [Valdez]

AMENDED: Significant

PASSED

Short Description:

Creates a new category of motor vehicle, demilitarized surplus military vehicle, and exempts this new category from emissions standards and the requirement to have a physical inspection for roadworthiness. Humvees are excluded from this category.

Long Description:

Creates a new category of motor vehicle, demilitarizeddemilitarized surplus military vehicle, which is a self-propelled vehicle that is purchased for non-military use but was commonly used by the US armed forces to transmit people on highways and was actually built by the US military. Humvees are excluded. Exempts this new category from emissions standards and the requirement to have a physical inspection for roadworthiness.


Arguments For:

This exemption will not apply to vehicles manufactured for commercial sale, so the Hummer for instance would still have to meet emissions standards. Army vehicles can be bought more cheaply than the commercial version. There is even an online auction marketplace. There are also heavy duty trucks available that can be very useful for those living in rural areas. Multiple counties require emissions testing when registering or selling a vehicle and these vehicles cannot be titled and registered by the state due to the fact that they are not deemed roadworthy by the federal government (they lack VIN identification). But 349 were improperly registered under an older state software system and now cannot be sold. These vehicles are obviously road-worthy, they were used by the military. We need a way to buy and sell them in the state.

Arguments Against:

This should not be a privileged category. Heavy duty trucks and super SUVs like the Hummer are available for purchase from commercial dealers and if price is a problem, used versions can be pursued. There is nothing magical about a vehicle that used to be used by the armed forces, certainly nothing magical enough to set aside rules that protect our environment and help us combat the potential of catastrophic climate change roads.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-054

SB19-083 Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Air Quality Control (Zenzinger) [McKean] TECHNICAL BILL

From the Statutory Revision Committee

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Removes obsolete provisions regarding air quality and the state board of health.

Long Description: n/a

SB19-096 Collect Long-term Climate Change Data (Donovan) [Hansen]

AMENDED: Very Significant

PASSED

Short Description:

Changes how the state measures, reports, and forecasts greenhouse gas emissions as well as requiring identification of mitigation strategies in annual reports every five years Requires potentially greater public disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions and more frequent public reports.

Long Description:

Currently the state reports on greenhouse gas emission only every five years, with one report due this year and another in 2024. This bill changes how the state measures, reports, and forecasts greenhouse gas emissions as well as requiring identification of mitigation strategies in annual reports. It requires the air quality control commission to create rules based on federal standards to require the submission of the best information available from gas emitting entities. These must define the classes of emitting entities required to report and implement measure to collect the proper information on an annual basis. The 2020 report is required to have a list of proposed rules to implement that would most cost-effectively allow the state to meet its ambitious 2025 emissions reductions goals. Other new changes in include considering the carbon sequestration and emissions implications of forests and agricultural practices, recalculating the 2005, 2007, and 2014 reports based on the new standards, and forecast future emissions through 2050 based on three models: no action, low level of action, and high level of statewide action taken to combat climate change. Requires greenhouse gas emitting entities to make their emissions public (as deemed necessary by commission, tailored to fill in gaps in publicly available data). Requires public update by sector at least every two years and annually if the division wants. Requires recalculation of 2005 baseline emissions amount.


Arguments For:

Measuring every five years, as we are set to do, is not enough to combat the crisis that is climate change. This bill makes the measurements more frequent so that we can reach our greenhouse gas reduction goals, which everyone wants: we all want cleaner air for Colorado. Additionally, our current methods of measurement are inadequate, we are behind the methods that other states use. Finally, we need to do much more than just collect this information, we need to figure out what to do to address it. Climate change is real and it is happening. We keep piling up record highs and collecting top 5 record warmest years. We have seen increased flooding in coastal areas and more dangerous storms (how many 100 year weather events can we have in the space of a few years?) The entire world agrees and the rest of the world is dedicated to saving us from the most disastrous effects of extreme climate change. We must do our part in Colorado, where we are uniquely positioned to capitalize on solar and wind energy strategies. We need to make more data public to leverage more eyes on it and do it more often.

Arguments Against:

Oil and gas production is a vital interest to the economic well-being of Colorado and of the nation. It is already heavily regulated by the state. It will undoubtedly be a prime target of this newly empowered report to propose “solutions” to somehow fix our climate from just right here in Colorado. We also do not need to waste state resources on annual reports, every few years is fine to check in on our progress toward cleaner air. Climate forecasting is also an imperfect art, as even climate change true believers will acknowledge. Forecasting 35 years into the future, and what will happen if we do X or Y is too flimsy a reed to put our state’s economic well-being on.

The original bill would have been far better, we need a stronger response to the critical crisis that is climate change.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-096

SB19-181 Protect Public Welfare Oil and Gas Operations (Fenberg, Foote) [Becker, Caraveo]

AMENDED: Moderate

SIGNED INTO LAW

Goal: To reshape Colorado’s oil and gas laws away from industry and toward environmental protection and local control.

Description:

This is a massive bill, so bear with us.

  • Repeal limitations on local government to have land use authority over oil and gas operations. Clarifies that local governments can regulate oil and gas locations including ability to inspect facilities, impose fines and fees, and enforce local government requirements. Repeals exemption for oil and gas production from local noise ordnances. Specifies that both state agencies and local authorities have right to regulate oil and gas operations and that the more environmentally protective standard prevails in cases of conflict. Requires operators to file proof that the local government where extraction would take place has consented or is not required to consent to drilling.
  • Excludes from the definition of waste of oil and gas resources the nonproduction of oil or gas necessary to protect public health, safety and welfare or the environment. Repeals requirement oil and gas commission consider cost-effectiveness and technical feasibility with regard to mitigating adverse impacts to wildlife resources. Requires the commission to protect and minimize adverse impacts to public health, safety, and welfare, the environment, and wildlife resources and protect against adverse impacts on any air, water, soil, or biological resource from oil and gas operations, but not in an arbitrary or capricious way.
  • Clarifies that nothing in the oil and gas conservation act alters, impairs, or negates the authority of the air quality control commission to regulate oil and gas production air pollution; the water quality control commission to regulate water pollution from oil and gas production; the state board of health to regulate disposal of naturally occurring radioactive materials from oil and gas production; and the solid and hazardous waste commission to regulate disposal of hazardous from oil and gas production. Directs air quality control commission to adopt rules to require oil and gas operators to install continuous monitoring equipment to monitor for hazardous air pollution and minimize emissions of methane and other hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides.Requires semi-annual inspections by oil and gas operators for leak detection and repair.
  • Requires oil and gas commission to create rules to: ensure proper wellhead integrity, including nondestructive testing; allow public disclosure of flowline information and to evaluate what must be done to a deactivated flowline prior to reactivation; evaluate inactive and shut-in wells prior to their being put back into production.
  • Directs oil and gas commission to change its rules for financial assurances from oil and gas operators from current $60,000 for fewer than 100 well and $100,000 for more than 100. New rules must require financial assurance sufficient to provide adequate coverage for all applicable requirements. Removes cap on administrative fees ($200 or $100 currently). Changes requirements for the state oil and gas conservation and environmental response fund from $6 million maximum over two year average with adequate balance to address needs to unobligated part of fund not exceeding 50% of total appropriations from the fund with adequate balance to address needs.
  • Changes forced pooling requirements from approval of one lease or royalty interest owner to approval of at least 50% of pooled mineral interest owners. Specifies that nonconsenting owner surfaces cannot be used without permission. Changes royalty rate for nonconsenting owner from 12.5% to 15 13% (this is until the consenting owners’ costs are recouped).
  • Changes composition of the nine member commission from three industry members and one environmental/wildlife protection to one industry member, one with wildlife protection training, one with environmental protection training, and one with soil conservation or reclamation training, and one with public health training. Changes requirement that one member must be engaged in agricultural production and be a royalty owner to an “or” requirement.
  • Bans the commission from approving any new oil and gas facilities until it creates the rules required by this bill. Allows the director of the commission to refuse new permits if it is determined by criteria created by commission within 30 days of bill passage that the new permit would require additional analysis due to this bill or additional local approval due to this bill.
  • Requires commission to adopt rules for certification for workers who are compliance officers, handle hazardous materials, and welders, with minimum of 7,000 hours of documented on-job training for welders. Training requirements can be met by working under supervision of person who has reached 7,000 hour minimum already.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

This about a long-overdue reset of the balance between extracting oil and gas and protecting our environment and local interests. Some of the provisions that the bill fixes are amazing: that local communities had no say in oil and gas operations unless the commission said so, that not producing oil or gas because of environmental impacts was “waste”, that oil and gas operations could ignore noise ordinances, and most importantly: that we have not put public health and our environment first and have intended tried to “balance” public health against oil and gas development. If you think about it in terms of balancing, then you are inevitably weighing damage to one side (usually the environment and public health) versus development to the other (oil and gas). This bill will make the state operate to try to prevent damage entirely, not “balance” it out.

  • Local governments routinely use their authority to regulate industrial activity and oil and gas production is among the most dangerous industrial activities on the planet. Local communities should be given the opportunity to choose for themselves if they want these dangerous activities taking place in their community.
  • We need to make sure that before any oil and gas project is undertaken, the company doing it has the ability to cover potential expenses from things as mundane as regular safety and environmental compliance to the potentially more damaging mishaps that can occur and cause damage to the environment and our citizens. The highly profitable oil and gas industry should have no problem adhering to these new standards.
  • Current law doesn’t require oil and gas companies to implement best practices regarding wellhead integrity. The explosion in Firestone two years ago is an example of the dangers of our current setup.
  • The notion that one person can dictate forced pooling to hundreds is an assault on common sense. This bill fixes that out-of-whack balance by requiring a majority, like we do for most things in America.
  • The ban on new operations will prevent a rush to get new wells approved under the old regime.

Oil and gas can be a vital part of Colorado’s economy and be a responsible civic citizen. We do not have to fall for the false choice that it is either one or the other. This bill ensures we will get both.

Arguments Against:

This bill is a frontal assault on one of the most important industries in the state. The industry is already heavily regulated, including regulations to protect public health and the environment. Balancing these needs is crucial, after all any attempt to extract oil or gas is going to run a risk of environmental damage so if you cannot have that risk, you cannot develop oil and gas. But we have developed safety rules and regulations to mitigate this risk and the balance achieved here has worked for Colorado. This bill is about undoing that balance and putting oil and gas development at a severe disadvantage, which will cause economic damage to the state.

  • Allowing Not In My Backyard interests to prevent these facilities from operating will cause harm to the entire state, so that is why the entire state must be the entity that ultimately decides, not local governments.
  • Enacting in essence a drilling moratorium until the rules in this law are enacted, which could take quite a bit of time.
  • Much more onerous financial requirements may mean fewer projects which may mean fewer jobs.
  • Nonconsenting pooling owners are already compensated for their rights and technologies exist to pull the minerals out from beneath their land without touching it physically. We again cannot allow NIMBY interests to interfere with vital state industries.
  • Rebalancing the oil and gas commission into an environmental protection group may be one of the farthest reaching changes in this bill with the least understood unintentional consequences. Four out of the nine members have nothing to do with oil and gas and everything to do with the environment. That is one short of a majority and given the commission’s broad authority to regulate the industry, who knows what far-reaching changes this commission will bring about.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-181

SB19-192 Front Range Waste Diversion Enterprise Grant Program (Winter, Priola) [Jackson]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Goal: To increase recycling usage in the front range through fees at landfills.

Description:

Creates the front range diversion enterprise grant program, which can issue grants and technical assistance to eligible entities to reduce waste through increased recycling and increase diversion of municipal and non-municipal solid waste materials (mattresses, construction materials, electronics, appliances, and organic waste). Municipalities, counties, non-profits and for-profit businesses involved in waste disposal or diversion are eligible as well as schools (both K-12 and higher ed). Money for the fund comes from a user fee on each load of waste deposited at a landfill in the front range (or originating from front range and deposited elsewhere). $0.15 per cubic yard in 2020 ramping up to $0.60 per cubic yard in 2023 and then adjusted for inflation in the future. Current fee is $0.14. Also increases fines for littering and credits new funds to program. Program is tasked with achieving waste reduction goals within the front range of 32% diversion by 2021, 39% by 2026, and 51% by 2036. State recycling rate currently is 12%, national average is 35%.

Additional Information:

Front range is defined as Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Douglas, Elbert, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, Pueblo, Teller, and Weld counties as well as city and county of Denver and Broomfield. Grant program can also issue bonds. Grant fund is tasked specifically with examining: implementing pay-as-you-throw rate structures for single-family recycling, increasing recycling for commercial sector, increased curbside recycling, collection of organic waste from residents and food-service businesses, policies and programs to expand construction and demolition recycling, standardization of recycling policies and practices, remediation of illegal waste disposal sites, and systems to track diversion rates. No single annual grant can be more than 20% of entire fund. Board is to consist of 13 members, including: one from office of economic development, two from department of public health and environmental control, two from front range municipalities, two from front range counties, and six appointed by governor balanced among non-profit and for-profit entities engaging in trash industry.
[/expand title] Arguments For:

It’s right there in the description, Colorado has one of the lowest recycling rates in the country at 12%. We just disposed of a record 9 million tons of trash in 2017 and are quite literally throwing money away: more than a quarter billion dollars-worth of recyclable material each year. Recycling creates an average of nine times more jobs than landfill disposal and it provides obvious benefits to our environment. The bill is limited to the front range because the front range produces 85% of the state’s waste and has the infrastructure to be much better with recycling than rural areas of the state. Our current funding for recycling programs is obviously inadequate and it makes sense to charge fees on the activity we want to stop (putting trash in landfills) to fund the activity we want to grow.

Arguments Against:

This may raise costs for consumers across the front range as these fees are generally passed on to them (right now average front range family pays $0.86 a year to support the current $0.14 fee). So the trash companies may be passing along the fee increase to customers and then turning around and taking those same fees from the state in the form of grants in order to boost recycling in the state. It’s not very much money of course, barely noticeable. But the trash companies shouldn’t be allowed to charge customers for money that is going to come back around to them.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-192

SB19-198 Continued Management of Waste Tires (Todd, Coram) [Buentello, Gray]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Goal: To get a better handle on our waste tire problem.

Description:

Raises the waste tire fee assessed on each new tire sold in the state from $0.55 to $2.00 from 2020 to 2024, when it goes back down to $0.55. Also recreates the end users fund, which provides rebates to end users for the processing of waste tires into tire-derived products or fuel. 75% of the tire fee will go into this fund, with the remaining $0.55 staying with the waste tire administration. The end user funds repeals at end of 2024. Also requires monofills (where these waste tires are stored) to increase the number of tires it reduces from 2 to 5 for every tire it receives.

Additional Information:

Rebates are issued quarterly and by the ton. Full rebates for completely destroying the tire for energy recovery. 50% for converting to molded products, crumbed rubber, and rubber mulch. 25% for alternative daily cover and tire-derived aggregate. Rebate to be set by commission, rural areas eligible for extra $25 a ton.


Arguments For:

This end users fund was retired two years ago in the hope that the private sector would step in and create a market, but that did not happen. We have consistently have one waste tire per person per year in the state, a massive environmental and health problem that is exacerbated by people just dumping tires, and if the private sector isn’t going to step up we need to again bring the government and provide more time to see if this can work. California produces about 48 million tires a year and only have 25,000 in stockpile. We need to get a handle on our problem. We can then re-evaluate in 2025.

Arguments Against:

Two years is not enough time for a private market solution to come forth. Let’s give a bit more time (and perhaps more incentives) before adding on more fees that consumers have to pay.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-198

SB19-236 Sunset Public Utilities Commission (Garcia, Fenberg)

AMENDED: Minor (requires repassage in Senate)

PASSED SENATE AND HOUSE COMMITTEE

Goal: To continue the public utilities commission through 2026 as recommended by the department of regulatory agencies sunset review and implement some of their suggestions. Also to enshrine other bills from this session requiring workforce transition plans for retiring electricity generating facilities and evaluating carbon dioxide emissions in any proceeding related to the commission.

Description:

Continues the public utilities commission through 2026. Requires any investor-owned utility, when submitting a plan that proposes retiring an electric generating facility to submit a workforce transition plan. Directs commission to evaluate the cost of carbon dioxide emissions in any proceedings related to public utilities subject to the commission. Commission is to create rules to require submissions to include cost of carbon dioxide emissions related to proposed activities. Authorizes commission to regulate vehicle booting companies through permits and enforcement mechanisms. Directs study of performance based incentives and tracking for utilities.

Additional Information:

  • Allows commission to delegate routine administrative transportation matters to staff.
  • Allows public utilities to notify customers of rate changes through text message and e-mail.
  • Clarifies commission can impose civil penalty for violation of railroad crossing safety regulations.
  • Requires commission to create rules around electricity distribution planning.
  • Repeals community solar gardens requirements for electric utility plans to acquire renewable energy but delays repeal until 2043 to allow current contracts to expire.
  • Repeals requirement that commission give consideration to carbon capture methods that have never been used


Arguments For:

From the department of regulatory agencies sunset review report: “The Commission’s activities affect Coloradans in ways large and small: its inspection of gas pipelines and railroad crossings might prevent accidents and its attention to the capacity of electric utilities might prevent widespread service outages; it helps people resolve billing disputes and ensures buses are safe to transport children.

Through all these activities, the Commission fulfills its constitutional mandate to regulate “the facilities, service and rates and charges of public utilities in Colorado.” For the other major changes, we must orient the commission to the world as it is now, where we are scrambling to convert to renewable clean energy and must deal with the impacts that has on citizens who currently work in dirty energy plants. Private booting companies, which immobilize cars based on parking in the wrong areas, are currently mostly unregulated which can lead to problems.

Arguments Against:

This goes too far beyond a sunset review bill in implementing major changes best done in stand-alone bills (and in fact are being done so). The bill also ignores the recommendation to implement regulations on private towing companies that the report noted constitute the vast majority of complaints received by the board.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-236

SB19-243 Prohibit Food Establishments' Use of Polystyrene (Moreno, Foote) [Cutter, Singer]

KILLED ON SENATE CALENDAR

Goal: To stop use of polystyrene food containers in restaurants for to-go orders.

Description:

Starting in 2024, bans use of polystyrene food containers for use as a container for off-premises ready-to-eat food. Restaurants may use any existing inventory as of January 1, 2024. Attorney general can seek injunction for any violation but there is no penalty.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

This is generally unrecyclable because recycling companies won’t buy it. So billions of these end up in landfills and it is not known how long they will take to degrade, but it is going to be a very long time and like a lot of our trash, it ends up in our oceans and hurts natural wildlife. There is also a danger of chemicals leeching into foods at higher temperatures and with certain foods. Hundreds of municipalities around the country have banned it and even entire countries like China and India. There are alternatives available, such as biodegradable paper or compostable plastics.

Arguments Against:

Restaurants use these because they cost less than alternative products and because the material can retain the heat of the food for longer. The increased costs from alternatives are likely to be passed on to consumers. If the issue is that this material is recyclable but that the process is too costly for recycling companies, perhaps that is where the state should step in, rather than on the restaurant/consumer side of things.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-243

SB19-250 Limit Tiered Rates Electric Utilities (Garcia, Scott) [Esgar, Rich]

KILLED ON HOUSE CALENDAR

Goal: To eliminated older tiered rates from electric utilities and require them to make a fresh case if they want to use tiers.

Description:

As of April 2020 any electric utility that is charging a residential tiered rate in the summer must collapse all the tiers into one rate that applies to all customers during the summer. This must be revenue neutral to the utility. If a utility wants to use tiers it must make a fresh case to the public utilities commission.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

This doesn’t remove the idea of tiers, it just makes the utilities rejustify them based on current pricing and usage, not outdated standards. The fact is that electricity generation costs have declined substantially for utilities and the old tiers do not make sense. If we still want to have tiers, that is fine, but we need them based on electricity generation costs and usage today.

Arguments Against:

Tiered rates are designed to encourage reduced energy consumption and to provide the majority of customers with a cost reduction, by setting a lower base rate for everyone then charging higher rates for people who exceed usage targets. This is an eminently fair system that rewards people who use less electricity. One of the tools we must use to combat climate change is to use less energy period, not just cleaner energy. Part of that of course comes through higher efficiency but part of it also comes from less waste. Just because energy has gotten cheaper doesn’t mean we should toss the old tiers.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-250