These are all of the energy and environment bills proposed in the 2020 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 or highlighted in yellow. Pink highlights mean House amendments to the original bill; orange mean Senate amendments; yellow highlights mean conference committee amendments. The bill will say under the header if it has been amended.

Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Mega, Major, Medium, Minor+, 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.

House

Click on the House bill title to jump to its section:

MEGA

HB20-1163 Management Of Single-use Products KILLED ON HOUSE CALENDAR

MAJOR

HB20-1018 Adopt Renewable Natural Gas Standard KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
HB20-1070 Local Government Liable Fracking Ban Oil And Gas Moratorium KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB20-1143 Environmental Justice And Projects Increase Environmental Fines PASSED AMENDED
HB20-1162 Prohibit Food Establishments' Use Of Polystyrene KILLED ON HOUSE CALENDAR

MEDIUM

HB20-1047 Develop A Statewide Organics Management Plan KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
HB20-1119 State Government Regulation Of Perfluoroalkyl And Polyfluoroalkyl Substances PASSED SIGNIFICANTLY AMENDED
HB20-1126 Local Control Approvals Oil And Gas Applications KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB20-1146 Conservation Easement Transparency KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB20-1180 Protect Pollinators Through Pesticide Regulation KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

MINOR+

HB20-1045 Energy Efficiency Improvement Programs Funding KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
HB20-1299 Enterprise Zone Investment Tax Credit For Renewable Energy Investments KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

MINOR

HB20-1059 Valuation Of Energy Storage Equipment KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
HB20-1064 Public Utilities Commission Study Of Community Choice Energy KILLED ON HOUSE CALENDAR
HB20-1087 Parks And Wildlife Law Enforcement Statutes Cleanup SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
HB20-1208 Sunset Coal Mine Board Of Examiners PASSED
HB20-1215 Sunset Water Wastewater Facility Operators Certification Board PASSED AMENDED
HB20-1225 Cooperative Electric Utilities Reasonable Rates Energy Storage SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
HB20-1265 Increase Public Protection Air Toxics Emissions PASSED VERY SIGNIFICANTLY AMENDED (category change)
HB20-1374 Repeal Waste Grease Program PASSED

TECHNICAL

HB20-1042 PFAS Polyfluoroalky Substances Manufacturer Notice Requirements SIGNED INTO LAW

Senate

Click on the Senate bill title to jump to its section:

MEGA

SB20-135 Conservation Easement Working Group Proposals KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
SB20-204 Additional Resources To Protect Air Quality PASSED AMENDED

MAJOR

SB20-010 Repeal Ban On Local Government Regulation Of Plastics KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE
SB20-150 Adopt Renewable Natural Gas Standard KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
SB20-159 Global Warming Potential For Public Project Materials KILLED ON SENATE CALENDAR

MEDIUM

SB20-003 State Parks Improvement Appropriation PASSED SIGNIFICANTLY AMENDED
SB20-013 Promote Innovative And Clean Energy Technologies KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
SB20-121 Manage Gray Wolves In Colorado KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
SB20-142 Pet Animal Facility Licensing KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE
SB20-164 Treatment Dogs And Cats In Shelters And Rescues KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
SB20-168 Sustainable Severance & Property Tax Policies KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
SB20-190 Boost Renewable Energy Transmission Investment KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
SB20-218 CDPHE Colorado Department Of Public Health And Environment Hazardous Substances Response PASSED AMENDED

MINOR+

SB20-008 Enhance Penalties Water Quality Criminal Violations KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
SB20-030 Consumer Protections For Utility Customers PASSED AMENDED
SB20-055 Incentivize Development Recycling End Markets PASSED AMENDED
SB20-125 Prohibit Exotic Animals In Traveling Performances KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
SB20-189 Local Government Pesticide No Preemption KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

MINOR

SB20-012 Transmit Renewable Energy Conservation Easements KILLED BY BILL SPONSOR
SB20-058 Facilitate Asphalt Shingle Recycling KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE
SB20-130 Backcountry Search And Rescue In Colorado KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
SB20-201 Species Conservation Trust Fund Projects PASSED SIGNIFICANTLY AMENDED

TECHNICAL

HB20-1018 Adopt Renewable Natural Gas Standard [Hansen (D)]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSOR

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Create a renewable natural gas standard for larger natural gas companies and allow them to recapture some of the costs associated with meeting that standard.

Description:

Creates a renewable natural gas standard for natural gas utilities with 200,000 or more customers of at least 5% of all natural gas by 2025, 10% by 2030, and 15% by 2035. If the utility’s total annual cost increase required to meet these targets goes above 5% (less savings from value received by using renewable natural gas) in any year it shall not make any additional investments without the approval of the state public utilities commission. Utilities can, with approval by the commission, recover prudently incurred costs to meet these targets through higher rates to customers. Smaller natural gas utilities may opt-in to a program to recapture costs for delivering renewable natural gas in same manner.

Additional Information:

Renewable natural gas must come from one of the following sources:

  • Biogas blended with or substituted for natural gas
  • Hydrogen gas derived from renewable energy sources
  • Methane gas derived from biogas, hydrogen gas or carbon oxides from renewable energy sources, waste CO2, coalbed methane resulting from human activity, naturally occurring coalbeds, solid waste landfills, waste tire or solid waste pyrolysis, or biogas recovered from manure management systems and anaerobic digesters


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

The extraction of natural gas causes environmental problems, including emissions generated during the process, particularly disastrous if there is a methane leak. Renewable natural gas, which is created so as to operate in any system that uses natural gas, can actually have the opposite effect. Methane, one of the worst greenhouse gasses, naturally occurs in many areas and also is emitted by our own rotting trash. And because we are not turning live plants into fuel, we do not run into the same problems that alternative fuels such as ethanol or biodiesel do when it comes to the environmental impact of land use. We can literally turn trash into energy and at the same time prevent some of the worst greenhouse gasses from reaching our atmosphere. This is such a good trade-off that even though burning renewable natural gas causes similar environmental pollutants as regular natural gas fuel, it is still considered carbon-negative. Because we are in a climate crisis, we have to act quickly. That means not waiting for the market to make renewable natural gas an attractive alternative but forcing our large utilities to start adopting it and incentivizing our smaller ones to do the same. The target percentages are low enough that we should have enough time to develop the infrastructure and technology needed to reach the goals without a problem.

Arguments Against:

Renewable natural gas still burns dirty, just like regular natural gas. It also not yet clear how scalable any of this is. California did a study which found that it could supply only 2.5% of statewide gas consumption based on in-state sources. In Colorado, about ¼ of our energy comes from natural gas. If many other states follow suit, we may have difficulty producing enough without large increases in technology (hydrogen gas for instance, cannot really be done yet at a commercial scale). So rather than expend resources on renewable natural gas, we should be replacing natural gas altogether with clean renewable electricity.


This bill offers a no-risk blank check to utilities to experiment with our money. If the experiment fails, the utility simply collects all of their costs from consumers, with the state’s blessing. If the experiment succeeds, the utility gets to collect some costs and then reap the benefits of developing emerging technology that may become a blueprint for others. We also have large amounts of natural gas here in Colorado, the 6th largest reserves in the nation and more than ¼ of total US coalbed methane reserves. Moving toward standards that require less natural gas may have an impact on jobs and economic activity, particularly if we get some of the renewable natural gas from sources outside the state.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1018

HB20-1042 PFAS Polyfluoroalky Substances Manufacturer Notice Requirements (Moreno (D), Tate (R)) [D. Valdez (D), McKean (R)]

From the Statutory Revision Committee

SIGNED INTO LAW

Description:

Fixes a technical error in the date required by when manufacturers must notify sellers of their products about PFAS restrictions.

HB20-1045 Energy Efficiency Improvement Programs Funding [Kennedy (D)]

From the Investor-Owned Utility Review Interim Study Committee

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None estimated in next few years, but it is hard to estimate future severance tax funds exactly.

Goal: Ensure that energy efficiency improvement programs will receive at least $1 million in funding each year by backstopping them with general fund money if severance tax money is not sufficient.

Description:

Requires a general fund transfer of 75% of the difference between $1 million and the amount of severance tax received by either the Energy Outreach Colorado Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund and the Colorado Energy Office Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund to either fund if it does not get $1 million in funding from severance taxes.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Severance taxes are diminishing in the state, from a combination of legislative action making fossil fuel extraction less attractive to businesses and various actions lowering the amount of severance tax paid. These two programs are extremely important not only to lowering the energy needs in the future in the state but also lowering energy bills for the low-income Coloradans who can benefit from it the most.

Arguments Against:

There are multiple worthy programs that receive money from severance taxes, we shouldn’t advantage these two to automatic funding floors. If in a particular year one of these funds is going to come in short and the legislature feels like it wants to shore it up, then fine, that’s part of the annual budgeting process. But it shouldn’t be automatic.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1045

HB20-1047 Develop A Statewide Organics Management Plan (Priola (R)) [Cutter (D), Froelich (D)]

From the Zero Waste and Recycling Interim Study Committee

AMENDED: Minor

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: $150,000
Fiscal Impact: None beyond appropriation

Goal: Explore ways we can boost usage of organic waste in composting and incorporate findings right away where possible.

Description:

Requires the state to develop a plan for managing organic waste, including recommendations on practices to encourage compost use on soil to promote carbon storage. The department of public health and environment may incorporate the plan into its existing organics management without further legislative action if existing management meets standards of this bill. Plan must include comprehensive state surveys of end-uses for major categories of feedstock generated organic waste and of existing organic waste generation facilities and processing capacity. Also must study need for processing infrastructure expansion and increased compost utilization by various end users. Plan must be submitted by February 2023.

Additional Information:

Feedstock generated waste study must include waste from:

  • Source-separated municipal solid waste organics
  • Biosolids
  • Dairy and feedlot manure
  • Forest waste, including urban forest waste

Infrastructure expansion and increased compost utilization study must include:

  • Climate change impacts and cost-benefit analysis of development of new or expanded processing infrastructure and compost use
  • Exploring if new and existing compost facilities could qualify as enterprise zone projects for investment tax credit
  • What policy changes would make it easier to build compost facilities
  • Potential sources of funding to provide technical support to rural compost facilities that serve agriculture
  • Sustainable funding options to promote development of infrastructure

Recommendations in the plan should include:

  • How to increase end-market demand and utilization of compost from feedstock, including financial incentives for voluntary compost use in agriculture or other end uses, a state standard for using compost in state funded projects, and sample language local governments could use in their projects
  • Strategies that municipal and commercial organic waste collectors could use to reduce contamination

Stakeholders in process must include:

  • Statewide organization representing farmers and one representing chemists
  • Groups representing the four major categories of organic waste feedstock, including federal laboratories, municipalities, restaurants, grocery stores, universities, and colleges
  • Finished compost end-users
  • State agencies including the department of transportation and the department of local affairs
  • Agricultural sector
  • Land managers
  • Zero waste advocates and soil health advocates
  • Compostable product manufacturers, certifiers, and distributors
  • State conservation board and state purchasing and contracts office


Auto-Repeal: September 2023

Arguments For:

One of the tools in our fight against climate change that does not get much attention is carbon capture in the soil. The ground and other plant matter capture and hold carbon and studies have found that adding compost to the soil increases the amount of carbon the soil can capture and hold. Composting is also a way to avoid the carbon emissions of rotting organic material. So we need to find ways to use composting more in a variety of settings, which is what this bill does. Furthermore, the state already has some organic management programs so if we find things that fit into those programs, we should not wait for the legislature to write new laws. We should act.

Arguments Against:

Agriculture’s composting needs are far too large for them to get enough from organic materials on their own. So this may be a bit of a dead-end in terms of trying to create larger amounts of compost that farmers may not want to mix in with their already existing practices.


Generally studies like this report back to the legislature so it can make appropriate new law based on the findings. We don’t leave it to unelected government officials to decide on their own.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1047

HB20-1059 Valuation Of Energy Storage Equipment (Winter (D), Tate (R)) [Jackson (D), Bird (D)]

From the Energy Legislation Review Interim Study Committee

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Unknown but likely minimal loss of tax revenue

Goal: Assess energy storage equipment the same as clean energy equipment for property tax purposes.

Description:

Requires that energy storage equipment be assessed in the same manner as clean energy equipment for property tax purposes.

Additional Information:

Energy storage is defined as commercially available technology that is capable of retaining electricity, storing the energy for a period of time, and delivering the electricity after storage.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

For tax assessment purposes, clean energy is advantaged somewhat by requiring only the cost of property that would have been needed to deliver the same amount of energy by non-renewable means. This bill creates parity between energy storage equipment and clean energy technology equipment for property tax assessment purposes, which is important because lots of this technology will be co-located in the future and we will need a lot of energy storage to make clean energy a workable solution on a large scale. And we need clean energy to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change as well as for the quality of the air we breathe.

Arguments Against:

This is doubling down on putting our thumbs on the scales for renewable energy sources at the expense of traditional energy sources that actually currently power the state (about 75% of all energy). We shouldn’t advantage one energy source over another and so certainly should not expand this flawed concept to include energy storage. Let the market dictate winners and losers, not the government.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1059

HB20-1064 Public Utilities Commission Study Of Community Choice Energy [Hooton (D)]

From the Investor-Owned Utility Review Interim Study Committee

AMENDED: Moderate

KILLED ON HOUSE CALENDAR

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Just over $800,000 in one year to do studies.

Goal: Study the feasibility of implementing community choice energy in Colorado.

Description:

Requires the state to do two studies to examine the feasibility of implementing community choice energy (CCE) in Colorado. CCE means a mechanism that allows cities or counties, or groups of cities and counties, to combine their purchasing power and choose one or more alternative wholesale electricity suppliers while the incumbent utility continues to own and operate its transmission and distribution systems and deliver the electricity. Studies must exclude areas served by municipally owned eletric utilities or cooperative electric associations. One study shall be done by a third party and examine the financial and technical feasibility of implementing CCEs. The other will be an open investigation by the public utilities commission, with testimony and documentation from stakeholders, experts, regulators from other relevant states, and staff. This study is supposed to consider regulatory implications and legal impacts of CCE implementation.

Additional Information:

Third-party report is due by December 2020 June 2021. The financial component of the study should examine:

  • Potential for rate competitiveness and estimate of amount and duration of any exit fees CCE communities would have to pay to offset their share of previously approved utility contracts and assets
  • Multiple participation scenarios of CCE participation, including anticipated opt-out rates
  • Elements to be included in cost recovery consideration
  • Rate analysis to determine ability of CCEs to be cost-competitive

 

Technical component of first study should examine:

 

  • Regulatory and policy considerations for forming CCEs in a state that does not belong to a regional transmission organization
  • How to reaffirm federal orders concerning open access transmission tariffs and how to authorize the public utilities commission to establish fair transmission access rules and prices
  • Implications of CCEs for resource adequacy and reliability
  • Measures needed concerning wholesale market access and development

2nd study is due by January June 2021. It must include input from:

  • Communities with declared goals regarding carbon emissions or energy supply choices
  • Business groups
  • Environmental advocates
  • Consumer advocates
  • Electric utilities
  • Independent power producers
  • Power marketers
  • Renewable energy developers
  • Consultants and experts in energy product financing and energy efficiency and distributed energy resources
  • Representatives of operational authorities that use the CCE model
  • Members of general public

Must explore the following topics:

  • Whether commission needs more statutory authority to create CCEs
  • Appropriate scale of regulatory oversight of CCEs, including those regulations that utilities must face, such as resource adequacy planning, compliance with renewable energy standards, demand-side management requirements, and time-of-use rates or other rate requirements
  • Appropriate considerations for establishing reasonable exit fees that provide cost recovery for utilities but does not unduly burden CCEs users, including potential variance by time or location, expiration periods, and any other mitigation strategies
  • Appropriate conditions, limitations, and procedures for people to opt out of CCEs
  • If any other consumer protections would be required
  • Strategies for overcoming credit challenges for CCE startups
  • Issues that have come up in other CCE states
  • If utilities should be provider of last resort for people who opt out of CCEs
  • Appropriate process for approval of a CCE on behalf of customers in a jurisdiction
  • If guarantees are needed for open access and fair prices for transmission services
  • Minimum requirements needed for independent power producers and power marketers who want to supply energy to a CCE
  • Any data sharing requirements needed for utilities
  • If CCEs would facilitate or impede development of increasing integration of distributed energy resources and vice-versa
  • Potential impact on state climate goals and communities (including low income communities)


Auto-Repeal: September 2023

Arguments For:

Dozens of communities across the state have committed to obtaining 100% renewable energy, some by 2025 and other by 2035. These communities cannot reach their energy and climate goals unless they are given greater control over their wholesale electricity supply. Right now they are limited by the timeline of their electric utility. Multiple states have adopted this model, but there have been challenges in implementation that we need to learn from. So we need a really deep dive into this issue from multiple angles to see if we can come up with a model that works for Colorado. Because a well-designed program would introduce an element of wholesale competition and community choice into the supply of electricity, potentially driving lower rates and cleaner energy while maintaining the viability and strength of the state’s existing investor-owned utilities without imposing undue costs on anyone. That is worth the small cost of these studies, to see if we can do it. No one is saying we have to jump into using CCEs if it turns out that we cannot avoid the problems that have occurred in other states.

Arguments Against:

This has been a disaster in California, the state where the energy market setup is closest to Colorado, where these entities are not as well-regulated and costs spiked for CCEs (called CCAs there) due to exit fees from utilities, causing ping-ponging of customers between utilities and CCEs which nearly ruined the state public utilities financially. The utilities have decades of experience in procuring lost-cost and reliable electricity. And our utilities in this state are moving, fast, toward more renewable energy sources because state law requires them to do so. We need to let that process play out and not try to dive-into a different, dubious, model.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1064

HB20-1070 Local Government Liable Fracking Ban Oil And Gas Moratorium [Buck (R)]

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None (on state government)

Goal: Compensate mineral owners for lost financial activity due to fracking bans or moratoriums.

Description:

Makes any local government that bans fracking liable for the oil and gas owner for the value of the untapped minerals and any local government that puts a moratorium on any oil and gas activities must compensate operators for all costs, damages, and loss of market value associated with the moratorium.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Oil and gas development is critical to the state’s economy and is therefore an activity that needs to be regulated at the state level. We cannot allow local NIMBYism to derail the economy of the entire state but unfortunately that is exactly what we are starting to see. This bill makes sure that we get the economic activity either way: if the local government doesn’t want it to happen with fracking then they can pay the difference to keep the state’s economy humming.

Arguments Against:

Local governments have the ability to decide what kinds of dangerous industrial activities they want in their areas. This is nothing more than an attempt to circumvent local authority by making it impossible to ban fracking or any other oil and gas activity by making it prohibitively expensive. No local government could possibly be expected to reimburse and oil and gas company it the amounts they would require. And what other industry operates this way? Let us work in your area or pay the amount we’ll lose. Completely un-American.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1070

HB20-1087 Parks And Wildlife Law Enforcement Statutes Cleanup (Donovan (D), Rankin (R)) [Will (R), Arndt (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Note not yet released

Goal: Clean up and slightly update parks and wildlife enforcement laws.

Description:

  • Gives people fined by parks and wildlife 20 days instead of 15 to pay their fine. Requires at least 10 days notice before a hearing by either directly delivering notice (allowed to leave with adult at last known residence) or mailing via certified mail to last known residence. Authorizes the officer presiding at the hearing to suspend a license if the individual fails to comply with a summons, penalty, or other official notice. This remains in effect until the individual complies.
  • Makes any further penalties for illegal possession of trophy animals optional instead of mandatory.
  • Creates a lesser punishment for careless hunting for someone hunting with the wrong big game license who immediately dresses their kill and notifies parks and wildlife (instead of misdemeanor with $100 to $1000 fine with options of one year in jail and 20 license suspension points, $500 fine and 15 license suspension points).
  • Adds stand-up paddle boards to definition of vessel for water activities.
  • Authorizes the carrying of a loaded pistol or revolver while snowmobiling (previously had to be unloaded) and clarifies parks and wildlife can authorize someone to hunt from a snowmobile.
  • Prohibits river outfitters from allowing another person to operate a vessel without due regard to river conditions or other circumstances in a way that endangers any people, property, or wildlife. Violation is a class 3 misdemeanor.
  • Various language cleanup and clarifications

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This is mostly clean-up, updating, and clarification work, with some quality of life changes around fines and summons and adding a lesser penalty for a hunter who recognizes they have killed the wrong type of wildlife and immediately informs parks and wildlife. We don’t need to bring the hammer down so hard on accidents and the license suspension points are deterrence enough to prevent anyone from abusing the lesser penalty.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1087

HB20-1119 State Government Regulation Of Perfluoroalkyl And Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (Hisey (R), Lee (D)) [Exum (D), Landgraf (R)]

AMENDED: Significant

PASSED

Appropriation: $43,836
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Allow state to test and control for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in our water and Set up process for firefighters to register if they have any PFAS, as well as exclude large airports from testing ban if they meet certain criteria through 2022.

Description:

Exempts structures used for storage or maintenance of aircraft in airports with at least 20 million passengers a year that have containment systems capable of capturing all discharged firefighting foam and meet federal and state guidelines from ban on testing PFAS foam, through 2023. Gives the state authority to test water for PFAS and water control commission to set standards for allowable amounts of PFAS in water and require testing for it. Requires the solid and hazardous waste commission to create rules for registering any facility or fire department with PFAS and standards for capture and disposal of PFAS. Registration must be obtained by companies by June 2021.

Additional Information:

Airports must be certified by the FAA, do foam testing according to standards of National Fire Protection Association and as required by insurance carriers and in accordance with manufacturer recommendations, and adhere to applicable building codes.


Auto-Repeal: None

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. 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 has banning their usage. They are also found in nonstick cookware, water-repellent clothing, and stain resistant fabrics. We need to give our state regulators the proper tools to keep our water safe and this bill does that.

Arguments Against:

Thanks to a bill from last year we have already taken the step of banning sales of these chemicals except in very limited circumstances and for training nearly altogether. We’ve addressed that part of the problem and don’t need to add more red tape. For consumer goods, the problem is going to have to be addressed at the trash level. If we know there is PFAS in the water that isn’t going to help us if the source is a wide variety of consumer goods in landfills.


We need to add back into the bill the ability for the state to regulate PFAS in our water.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1119

HB20-1126 Local Control Approvals Oil And Gas Applications (Marble (R), Cooke (R)) [Saine (R), Buck (R)]

AMENDED: Very Significant

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Require state oil and gas commission to automatically approve any drilling permit that a local government has approved. Gives the state oil and gas commission 28 days to approve or deny drilling permits that a local government has approved or the permit is automatically approved.

Description:

Repeals a provision for a bill passed last session that gives the director of oil and gas conservation commission the authority to delay the final determination regarding a permit application if the director determines that the permit requires additional analysis to ensure the protection of public health, safety, and welfare or the environment or requires additional consultation. Instead the commission must approve the application to drill if the local government has approved it. Gives the state oil and gas commission 28 days to approve or deny drilling permits that a local government has approved or the permit is automatically approved.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

The oil and natural gas industry is a prime economic driver in this state, not only in terms of direct employment and supported jobs but also in terms of property and severance taxes helping fund state schools and water. These are good paying jobs that help lower household energy costs. We are 6th in natural gas production and 7th in oil production in the US. And the industry has invested hundreds of billions of dollars into doing better by our environment in the last 30 years. We have tough rules on the books to protect our environment already. Last year a bill passed that trumpeted restoring local control to communities that do not want oil and gas operations but at the same time took that decision away from other communities through the provision of law this bill repeals. If left to stand this could threaten that economic engine that has served the state well by giving unelected state officials the ability to deny the will of local communities. This bill rights that wrong by saying that if a local government has approved an oil and gas permit, the state does not get the power to veto that decision. Communities that do not want oil and gas operations are still free to choose a different path. Communities should not have to wait for the oil and gas commission to rule, 28 days is enough time. If they haven't ruled by then, the permit should go ahead.

Arguments Against:

The authority of the director to delay permits only lasts for as long as the rule-making process to create the standards the bill passed last year requires (should end sometime this year). Then of course the commission must operate under the new rules. So what this bill really does is not halt some long-term power of the director of the commission, but circumvent the entire set of rules that will be created from last year’s bill so that a local government can approve a drilling permit and the commission, which just had its axis shifted dramatically from oil and gas interests to environmental and public safety interests, would be powerless to intervene. It is worth reviewing why this change was made in the first place. It used to be that the commission had to consider any unproduced oil and gas because of potential environment impacts as waste. It used to be that the commission had to balance public health against oil and gas development. Now we are going to ensure that public health and the environment come first. And we must do this at the state level because both of these things impact us all, no matter if you live in the local jurisdiction or not, through increased costs of environmental clean-up, health issues associated with living near oil and gas operations, and increased air pollution. No local jurisdiction should have the right to circumvent state rules in this case. 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 is still trying to circumvent the state oil and gas board while temporary rules are in place to get a bunch of projects in before the rules change. Now it's trying to do so with arbitrary and very short timelines.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1126

HB20-1143 Environmental Justice And Projects Increase Environmental Fines (Winter (D)) [Jackson (D), Gonzales-Gutierrez (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Complicated but about $1.5 million at full implementation lost and $500,000 in current revenue diverted to this bill. $2 million total.

Goal: Increase finds for air and water quality violations to match federal limits and use more of the fine money to address impacts on communities that are disproportionately affected by these environmental hazards.

Description:

Raises the maximum daily penalties for most air quality and water quality violations from $15,000 to the federal limit of $47,357 $44,833 and sets the fine to increase with inflation going forward. Creates the Community Impact Cash fund, which is to receive all air quality fines (previously just went to the general fund). Money in this fund is to be used in response to violations that occur in or directly affect residents in environmental justice communities. These are communities where residents are: predominantly minorities or low-income and have been excluded from environmental policy-setting or decision-making, and are subject to disproportionate impact from at least one environmental hazard or experience disparate implementation of environmental regulations. The response is to be in the form of environmental mitigation projects determined by the environmental justice board and ombudsperson (both created by the bill). Projects must be subject to public comment. The board can also approve projects for water quality violations and the water quality improvement fund (where water violation money goes) can spend its funds on these approved projects. Advisory board repeals with sunset review in September 2025.

Additional Information:

The ombudsperson is supposed to serve as a chief of staff for the board and a centralized point of contact for communities. Bill is silent on how the ombudsperson is to be chosen. The board is to made up of:

  • Three five members appointed by department of public health and environment, one three of which must be a resident of an environmental justice community and one of which must be from an non-governmental organization that represents statewide interest to advance environmental protections
  • Four members appointed by the respective leaders of the two legislative chambers (speaker of house, house minority leader, senate president, and senate minority leader)

Board appointments must be made by January 2021. Members get paid per diem and reimbursement for expenses (covered by community impact cash fund which also covers unspecified costs of the ombudsperson). Board must meet at least every quarter. Board can only recommend projects after it is notified an enforcement matter has been resolved with fines. Board cannot get involved until the state has resolved the matter. Board must notify each environmental justice community that was impacted by the specific violation for which fines are coming into the fund or that will be affected by the proposed mitigation project and solicit feedback from these communities as well as hold a public hearing. In order for a community that was not directly impacted by the violation to qualify for a project, it must have a nexus with the violation. To extent possible, board is to recommend projects to the state within 180 days of receiving notice of a settlement. Board and state are to jointly develop criteria to guide decisions on projects. These may include: needs of community where violation occured, community support for the project, feasibility of the project, nexus of the project to the violation, and environmental and public health benefits from the project. All projects must be posted on the state website in a format that allows public comment and cannot be approved until at least 45 30 days after the posting. State must describe all projects in annual report to legislature.


Auto-Repeal: Board in September 2025 with sunset review

Arguments For:

First, fines that are not tagged to inflation rapidly lose their value, so it makes sense to attach these fines to inflation. Second, we are clearly way behind what the federal government deems appropriate for redress for environmental disasters so it makes sense to match the federal limit. It also makes sense to use the fines generated from these harmful activities to help the communities that were harmed. Waste management, including toxic waste sites, and high pollution sites tend be located in minority dominated and poor areas (since the better connected and wealthy don’t want them in theirs). The number one indicator for placement of toxic facilities in this country is race and 78% of African-Americans live within 30 miles of a coal-powered plant (56% of non-Hispanic whites). Latino children are 40% more likely to die from asthma than non-Latino whites. The high profile national examples like the water in Flint actually pale in comparison to daily damage being done in many communities, including in Colorado, including something as simple as where the highways run (through poor and minority based communities) and therefore higher air pollution from vehicles. These communities lack the power to fight back against polluters in an effective way and lack the power to get proper redress for wrongs done to their environment. So this bill gives them that power, to redress specific wrongs the state has acquired money from. We cannot move the highways or most of the toxic facilities (although we can do better in how they are placed) but we can ensure that the communities most impacted are first in line.

Arguments Against:

This is a huge jump in fine level and just because the federal government does it should not be a reason we blindly copy here in Colorado. We also don’t set fines to inflation so that we can be forced to review them and their structure every once in a while through the legislative process. And there are three problems with how the fine money is being distributed. First, the fines we get right now is being used for other things, it is not sitting around doing nothing. So this is taking money away from other programs. Second, many enforcement settlements include supplemental environmental projects to mitigate a portion of the monetary penalties (30% of total penalties right now). So we are pulling the rug out from under that existing program. Third, these fines are subject to TABOR, so they are increasing the amount of money we have to give back to taxpayers in TABOR refund years (like right now). So the increase in fine money actually won’t result in more funds to use in TABOR years, the extra money will just head right out the door to taxpayers. But since the fine money must be used for this purpose, that money going back to taxpayers will have to come from another source. Finally, if we are going to decide to use the fine money for mitigation projects, it should be for the area that was affected, regardless of the socio-economic background of that area.


The ombudsperson role is ill-defined. No qualifications are provided, no salary level (is this a full-time job?) and no one is appointed as the decision-maker on hiring or firing the individual.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1143

HB20-1146 Conservation Easement Transparency [Neville (R)]

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: About $1.2 million a year

Goal: Require more specific disclosure form for property owners looking to execute a conservation easement, create a detailed statewide database of easements, and allow property owners to get out of disallowed easements with financial relief.

Description:

Requires the disclosure form that property owners must sign prior to executing a conservation easement include specific information about the risks of creating an easement with initials by a set of negative statements about easements and the potential harm they can cause property owners. 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. 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.

Additional Information:

Tracking form must include:

  • Date of agreement
  • Names and addresses of the grantor and grantee
  • Legal description of the property
  • Number of acres being conserved
  • Conservation purpose of the easement
  • Reception number for the easement

Database must include, to extent possible:

  • Location and acreage of each easement
  • Names and addresses of grantors and any holders of easement since its creation
  • If the holder is a certified organization
  • Conservation purpose of the easement
  • Any deeds, contracts, or other instruments affecting the easement
  • Amount of tax credits claimed for the easement and amount of those credits transferred to another taxpayer

Specific statements that must be on the disclosure form include:

  • 14-18% of easements in the state have been disallowed
  • Appraised value of an easement is almost always lower than the amount included in an initial appraisal to the landlord
  • Creation of easement reduces value of the property and makes it more difficult to obtain a loan or other financing
  • Creation of easement results in loss of an interest in owner’s property
  • Easements are binding on future owners of the land
  • Property owner can be held liable to repay the amount of any tax credit claimed improperly for the easement for a period of 4 years after the first credit was claimed
  • Landowner can be held liable for monetary damages for injuries to the interests of the conservation easement holder
  • Easement could be transferred to a different holder
  • If the holder of the easement purchases the property they have the right to end the easement
  • An easement lasts forever and it is highly unlikely a property owner can have one ended without taking legal action and obtaining a court order


Auto-Repeal: None

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. For the tax credit disavowal, this is pretty simple. You are supposed to get tax credits in exchange for the easement. No credits, should be no easement (or at least up to the owner) and repayment for easement maintenance.

Arguments Against:

This is a massive amount of work for very little payoff: we are already paying $250,000 to Colorado State University to facilitate public access to the state’s database and map of easements. We already require a disclosure form from the property owner. For ending easements, we do have a process that allows both the easement owner and the property owner to end it if a court agrees its purpose can no longer be served. We have a task force looking into retroactively awarding some tax credits people should have gotten. All of this thanks to a bill from just last session. Let’s let that bill do its full work before spending over $1 a year on a new way. As for the disclosure form, this is essentially an attempt to stop future easements from occurring by scaring off property owners with an “arguments against” easements list. 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. They needed some updates, which we did last session. But they are still a worthwhile program for the state.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1148

HB20-1162 Prohibit Food Establishments' Use Of Polystyrene (Foote (D), Story (D)) [Cutter (D), Singer (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

KILLED ON HOUSE CALENDAR

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

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

Description:

Starting in 2022, bans use of expanded 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, 2022. Attorney general can seek injunction for any violation but there is no penalty. Retail food establishments within schools have longer to come into compliance. By 2023 if the school is a rural non high school or junior or middle school and by 2024 for a high school.

Additional Information:

Expanded polystyrene is defined as: blown polystyrene, commonly known as Styrofoam, and any other expanded or extruded foam consisting of thermoplastic petrochemical materials utilizing a styrene monomer and processed by techniques that may include: fusion of polymer spheres, injection molding, foam molding, and extrusion-blow molding.


Auto-Repeal: None

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. Going the route of forcing recycling on this product is not viable, we already have enough trouble getting the items that can be recycled more easily properly disposed of. Having a state-wide ban will ensure that it is easy for restaurants to comply without worrying about local laws.

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 HB20-1162

HB20-1163 Management Of Single-use Products (Gonzales (D)) [A. Valdez (D), Sirota (D)]

AMENDED: Moderate

KILLED ON HOUSE CALENDAR

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Mostly ban use of single use plastic carry-out bags, stirrers, straws, and expanded polystyrene food service carriers in Colorado at the point of sale to customers.

Description:

Bans stores and restaurants from providing single-use plastic carry-out bags, plastic stirrers, plastic straws (except upon request), and expanded polystyrene food service products to customers at point of sale after June 2021 2022. Inventory purchased prior to July 2021 2022 can be used before the end of 2021 2022. The prohibitions against plastic straws do not apply to hospitals or independent living facilities. Attorney general can seek injunction for any violation and the state can fine $25 for a second violation and $100 for third or subsequent violations. Retailers and restaurants may appeal any fines. Stores must charge customers at least $0.10 per bag if they provide recyclable paper bags instead and may charge the same fee for single-use plastic bags until July 2022. If local laws allow it, stores can keep the money 60% of money goes to city or county store is located in, store keeps 40%. Store must notify customers on receipt of number of bags charged and must have prominent signs indicating the bag fee. Stores cannot refund fee to customers in any way. Local governments are banned from enacting any regulations that are less strict.

Additional Information:

Bags used to contain prescription medicine at pharmacies, to package loose items together at a grocery store (like fruit or vegetables), or contain or wrap frozen foods or bakery goods or prepared foods to prevent contamination of other items. Also does not include laundry, dry cleaning, or garment bags. Expanded polystyrene is defined as: blown polystyrene, commonly known as Styrofoam, and any other expanded or extruded foam consisting of thermoplastic petrochemical materials utilizing a styrene monomer and processed by techniques that may include: fusion of polymer spheres, injection molding, foam molding, and extrusion-blow molding. The ban on these items does not include anything prepacked outside of Colorado or packaging for raw or uncooked meat, fish, or seafood. Banned stirrers are defined as a device used to mix beverages, made predominantly of plastic, and single use. Includes plastic stoppers that can be placed into the sipping hole of a beverage lid to prevent leaks or spills.


Auto-Repeal: None

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 and stirrers are mostly too lightweight to make it through mechanical recycling sorters. People simply don’t recycle plastic bags (the estimate from Waste Management is 1% of all bags). And it is estimated that in America, we use over 500 million plastic straws and stirrers a day. Yes, that’s right, a day. We use over 100 billion plastic bags every year. 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. New York is banning plastic bags and California already has. Entire countries have banned them. For plastic straws, 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 straw 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 replacements for all of these things, mostly multi-use bags made from other materials, paper-based straws, stirrers, and containers. The $0.10 bag charge should encourage customers to just obtain their own reusable bags. This can not only lead to large decreases in using store bags but also in litter. San Jose found decreases in litter of about 60% in waterways and streets after a nearly identical law change. Research on other similar bag fees around the country confirms that this happens. The honest answer about how much of the trash in our oceans comes what source is we don’t know. Lots of trash sinks to the ocean floor and thus cannot be counted and smaller items become unrecognizable more quickly than larger ones. 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. Statewide action also makes it easier for businesses to navigate, as they do not have to sort through local regulations. This is something we can do, with ready alternatives, which much of the rest of the world is also doing, and will help the problem. Polystyrene containers are already taken care of in HB1161

Arguments Against:

It is believed the single greatest contributor of plastic to our oceans is fishing gear. Eight million tons of plastic flows into the ocean each year it is believed plastic straws account for 0.025 percent of that total. Plastic bags aren’t believed to be much higher, in part because of their size. This just isn’t going to do much to fix the problem of plastic pollution in our oceans and will instead inconvenience Coloradans who don’t want to drag their own bags everywhere, or 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. And we do have plastic bag recycling, you can drop them off at many King Soopers for instance. So rather than an outright ban and bag tax, let’s explore less confrontational ways to get people to be responsible consumers.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1163

HB20-1180 Protect Pollinators Through Pesticide Regulation (Fields (D), Priola (R)) [Kipp (D), Jaquez Lewis (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Not yet released

Goal: Make bee-harming pesticides restricted use products and require substitute products to be used instead in most home-related applications.

Description:

Requires state to create rules to regulate usage of certain neonicotinoid and sulfoximine pesticides as restricted-use pesticides. State is to disallow usage if another product that does not contain these chemicals does as good or better for the same uses. Exempts from the rules usage as pet care products, personal care products, or indoor pest control products. Also exempts licensed and registered limited commercial applicators, registered public applicators, certified operators of these employers, and agricultural producers using it on their own property. Bill allows state to designate other neonicotinoid and sulfoximine products for the same reasons. Bill clarifies that it does not alter the existing authority of the state or the requirements of licenesees in this area.

Additional Information:

Specific restricted-use ingredients are:

  • Imidacloprid
  • Nithiazine
  • Acetamiprid
  • Clothianidin
  • Dinotefuran
  • Thiaclorprid
  • Thiamethoxam
  • Sulfoximines containing active ingredient sulfoxaflor


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

These pesticides protect crops from pests like aphids by paralyzing and killing them. The problem is that they also can wreak havoc on bees ability to navigate, find food, reproduce and form new colonies. It is fairly widely believed that part of the reason for the decline in bee populations has to do with widespread use of these pesticides. Bees are critically important to our eco-system. They pollinate about 75% of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts grown in the US and one out of every three bites of food people take is courtesy of bee pollination. But we had a record number of bee colonies die last winter, with beekeepers losing 40% of their colonies. The EU has banned outdoor use of several of these pesticides and Canada is also phasing them out. This includes sufloximine, which was touted as a replacement for the neonicotinoids but has been found to have significant effects on reproductive success of bee colonies. There of course may be other causes for the decline in bee population, such as mites and viruses, but we know for a fact these pesticides negatively affect bees and that using something different that does not will help. So we must act.

Arguments Against:

It is possible that the exact timing of exposure and kind of application (spraying versus coating seeds) could alter the impact of these pesticides. Rather than an outright ban, we should focus our efforts on understanding potential best practices for application rather than simply move to a different, mostly unstudied product that may or may not have negative effects on wildlife. We also know that there are other things that impact bee populations so there is no guarantee this change will help.


While the exemptions here are understandable, they are wide enough that we may not make enough of an impact on bee populations simply by essentially banning home usage and allowing every other kind of usage without restriction.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1180

HB20-1208 Sunset Coal Mine Board Of Examiners (Donovan (D)) [Roberts (D), Will (R)]

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Continue the regulation of coal mine staff through 2029 and implement some of the recommendations of the department of regulatory agencies’ sunset review report.

Description:

Continues the regulation of coal mine staff through September 2029. Makes some technical changes and deletes obsolete provisions.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: September 2029 with sunset review

Arguments For:

From the department of regulatory agencies’ sunset review report: “Because of the danger presented in coal mines, it is important that the individuals who work in the mines be qualified and certified. Given that the majority of coal mined in Colorado comes from underground mines and that the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration does not have the resources necessary to take on the additional responsibilities of examining and certifying underground mine staff, the Board should be reauthorized to administer the certification program.”

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1208

HB20-1215 Sunset Water Wastewater Facility Operators Certification Board (Foote (D)) [A. Valdez (D), Froelich (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Appropriation: $24,815
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Continue the water and wastewater facilities board for 11 years to 2031 and implements recommendations of the department of regulatory agencies.

Description:

Continues the water and wastewater facilities board for 11 years to 2031 and implements recommendations of the department of regulatory agencies. Changes the definition of domestic wastewater treatment facility to exclude only those small on-site systems with a design capacity of 2,000 gallons or less per day, unless the system discharges directly to surface water. End the exclusion of facilities designed to operate for less than one year and facilities with in-situ discharges from industrial wastewater facilities definition. Cleans up some statutes and language.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: September 2031

Arguments For:

From the department of regulatory agencies’ sunset review report: “Colorado’s water and wastewater facility operator certification program satisfies a directive of the EPA calling for the certification of individuals who operate water treatment and water distribution facilities. Clean water is necessary to sustain life and consumers use water and wastewater systems many times every day. Inadequately treated water could harm citizens and devastate communities through the spread of disease. Untreated wastewater could damage the natural environment and harm people who are recreating by releasing harmful toxins into streams and rivers.” The less than 2,000 gallon systems are regulated by local public health agencies and should not fall into this area (generally septic systems). All industrial facilities should be included as you can still do damage in just one year of operation.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1215

HB20-1225 Cooperative Electric Utilities Reasonable Rates Energy Storage (Fenberg (D), Coram (R)) [Weissman (D), Catlin (R)]

AMENDED: Minor

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Affirm that wholesale electric cooperatives cannot charge unreasonable exit fees to retail cooperatives and that the public utilities commissioner is the ultimate arbiter of what reasonable is.

Description:

Prohibits wholesale electric cooperatives from subjecting the installation, interconnection, or use of an energy storage system by a retail cooperative electric association to any unjust, unreasonable, discriminatory, or preferential charge, classification, contract, fare, fee, practice, rate, regulation, rule, schedule, service, or toll. Prohibits wholesaler from requiring or imposing commercially unreasonable contractural terms on the retailer related to withdrawal. Requires wholesaler to facilitate the retailer's transition from native load to a firm service transmission customer upon request.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This is about providing the legislative backing to the public utilities commission, which believes it has the right to adjudicate complaints concerning just and reasonable “exit” fees charged by wholesale electric cooperatives against retail electric cooperatives (the folks who actual provide the power to customers). Wholesalers can use unreasonable exit fees to bind these retailers to them instead of to a new option that might work better for the retailer’s customers. The technology in energy generation is evolving rapidly and we must give retail cooperatives, which exist solely to serve their members, the ability to switch while paying any reasonable fees to their old wholesale cooperative suppliers. And the public utilities commission is perfectly positioned to have the expertise to know the difference between reasonable and unreasonable, as well as the sanction of the state Supreme Court to rule on such matters.

Arguments Against:

Providing energy to a retailer is not as simple as just flipping a switch. Energy generators must ensure they can adequately meet supply, which includes peak demand. So if a retailer pulls out, the generator has excess supply. If the retailer then needs to come back in (perhaps because their new technology didn’t work out the way they thought it would), the wholesaler has to again readjust everything they are doing. So what may seem unreasonable to some may in fact be quite reasonable to the wholesaler.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1225

HB20-1265 Increase Public Protection Air Toxics Emissions (Gonzales (D), Moreno (D)) [Benavidez (D), A. Valdez (D)]

AMENDED: Very Significant (category change)

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Not yet released

Goal: More heavily regulate certain dangerous air pollutants and the facilities that emit them into our air, including heavier monitoring requirements, health-based thresholds that cannot be exceeded, more power for the state to help disproportionately impacted communities, and increase requirements around incident reporting.

Description:

Requires the state to regulate more heavily polluters to provide more communication about incidents concerning certain dangerous air pollution as toxic: hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen fluoride, hydrogen sulfide, and benzene. Any facility that reported amounts over the minimum allowed by the bill for any of these gases becomes a covered facility under the bill. These facilities are required to have fenceline monitoring and near-source monitoring of these gases and a plan submitted to the state that identifies its equipment locations, procedures for dealing with maintenance and equipment failures that must include backup plans, methods for disseminating data to the public, governments, and schools in real time, and other air pollutants the monitors can measure. There must be a least two public hearings on the plan and the state must approve it. Plans must be updated and resubmitted every five years and state may require a more frequent update if it believes there has been a substantial change in the facility’s operations or emissions. State must create rules for this monitoring by end of year and plans must be in place by November 2021. Data collection must begin by 2022. State can add new gases to this toxic category by rule and must re-evaluate both the gases and the qualifying emissions levels every five years. conduct outreach to representatives of the community surrounding the facility to discuss communications regarding emissions releases above allowable numbers. This must include methods by which the facility can dissemenate information to the community and how the community can contact the facility, including provisions for communicating in Spanish. The facility must use an emergency notification service to communicate with and make data available to the community and it must pay for this itself. Service must be available within six months.

If there is not existing health-based emissions limit at the state or federal level for a toxic gas the state must create health-based emissions limits for these facilities to follow by rule. It must then re-evaluate these limits every five years. State is prohibited from revising a health-based emission limit unless the revision is more protective of public health and cannot solely consider cost or technical feasibility in setting a limit. Health-based limitations must contain a numerical limit, require maximum degree of reduction in emissions, provide an ample margin of safety to protect public health, consider cumulative effects from multiple sources of pollution, consider available monitoring data from covered facilities, consider both cancer and non-cancer health risks, and consider effects on disproportionately impacted communities and employees at facilities. The acceptable cancer risk is set at one extra cancer case per 100,000 people. There can be a phase-in period for facilities, but it must be prompt.

When considering air pollution permits for covered facilities that are in or near disproportionately impacted communities, the state must consider the cumulative impact of emissions (a report of this must be included by the facility in its application) and can only approve a permit if there is no net increase in the adverse cumulative impacts of hazardous air pollution in each disproportionately impacted community affected.

If the state finds that existing emissions exceed the health-based limits, then it must require a decrease or cessation in the applicable emissions from the covered facility. This must be done within 90 days. The state may also proceed with existing cease-and-desist judicial procedures in existing law dealing with air pollution. The state may also set target emission reductions and deadlines for achieving them in disproportionately impacted communities.

State must set up a real-time community alert system for incidents, with the information required in them to be set by rule. Alerts must be in the two most prevalent language spoken in the community (as determined by the Census) and available through opt-out text messages and reverse 911 calls. Alerts must go to local emergency planning and response organizations, area health agencies, clinics, hospitals, local governments, and school administrators. When an incident occurs the facility must immediately call the emergency number setup to report incidents and disseminate the required information to the required entities. Facilities must coordinate with local first responders at least annually, including providing its emergency action plan and its emergency response plan (if it has one).

Additional Information:

The thresholds for the toxic gases are:

  • Hydrogen cyanide: 10,000 pounds
  • Hydrogen fluoride: 10,000 pounds
  • Hydrogen sulfide: 5,000 pounds
  • Benzene: 1,000 pounds

State must report to legislature by end of year the estimated costs to create the rules for health-based limits on emissions. Covered facilities that already have permits must have their permits revised once the rules are set. Must make all research, studies, and other underlying support for the limits available to the public.

Monitoring equipment at facilities must continuously monitor wind speed and direction. All plans made for monitoring must be the two most commonly spoken languages in the affected community (as determined by Census) and must be available to the public on the state’s website. Interpretation services must be provided at the public hearings as needed for the two most common languages. One hearing must be held on a weekend and one must be held on an evening. Facility and state must consult with affected local government on plan. State must respond in writing to all written and oral comments received prior to approving a plan. Hard copies of the plan must be made available by the state and by the covered facility, which must also make these hard copies available at libraries in the affected community. State to determine a processing fee for these plans the facilities must pay.

State may create monitoring plans for a disproportionately affected community, subject to public comment and hearing. State may also require all baseline levels, health-based cumulative air-pollution targets, implementation and monitoring plans, and monitoring data for disproportionately affected communities be available on the state website.

State is to work with local emergency planning and response organizations to develop a model memorandum of understanding between adjacent jurisdictions so as to integrate alert systems and responses to potential incidents that may cross jurisdictional boundaries. Facilities must provide emergency contact information to local emergency planning and response organizations and establish appropriate schedules and plans for field and tabletop exercises required by federal law.

Facilities subject to either some federal EPA exemptions or EPA flare regulations are subject to a sub-section of regulation that makes any emission of an air pollutant from a flare or pressure relief device that is not an allowable emission or any uncontrolled release of an air pollutant from a pressure relief device a violation of the law. State is allowed to periodically review its rules in this area to see if more stringent measures are needed, including requirement that all leak detection and repair inspections occur at a minimum on a semi-annual basis or that an alternative approved instrument monitoring method is used.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

We had a release from a Suncor oil refinery last year that resulted in ash falling on cars in the vicinity. Suncor claimed all was well and told people to wash their hands and offered free car washes. Schools sheltered in place and all Suncor could do was refuse to comment on exactly what happened but say there was an investigation underway. While the truncated nature of this session means we cannot do more for now, we need at least better communication when incidents like this occur. This facility emits more than 800,000 tons of greenhouse gases and other pollutants a year. It broke its permitted level of 12.8 tons of hydrogen cyanide (the gas used in Nazi concentration camps for executions) and didn’t think it was necessary to alert the public (to be fair, neither did the state) and want to actually raise its permitted level. Even low levels of hydrogen cyanide can cause difficulty breathing, chest pain, vomiting, headaches, and thyroid gland enlargement. Benzene and is a known cancer causing gas. Hydrogen sulfide can be tolerated by the body at lower levels but even moderately breaching those levels can cause eye irritation, a sore throat and cough, nausea, shortness of breath, and fluid in the lungs. Chronic low-level exposure has been linked to fatigue, loss of appetite, headaches, irritability, poor memory, and dizziness. High-level exposure is extremely dangerous and has a high probability of death. Hydrogen fluoride immediately converts to hydrofluoric acid upon contact with the body. This is highly corrosive and toxic and can cause blindness by rapid destruction of the corneas in addition to severe burns. High levels can cause death. Suncor has a history of releasing large amounts of just about all of these with just about the same “everything’s fine, nothing to see here reaction” each time. The community around this refinery have suffered disproportionately from asthma, cancer, and heart-lung aliments for decades, in part of course because this Suncor refinery isn’t the only heavy polluter in the area. Our current approach of just letting companies figure it out when there are no federal regulations is a clear failure. Our air quality does not meet federal health standards and there is no sign of it getting better. This bill is not about Suncor alone (although it is a major catalyst for it) but about any facility that is emitting these extremely dangerous gases into the air. We actually don’t know the long-term effects of exposure to this deadly cocktail of gases (as opposed to the individualized effects of each one, which we do know) but it would seem well within the realm of probability that it isn’t good. It is long past time to crack down on these facilities. The current concept of fines and penalties (Suncor has faced at least seven in the past six years) is not working and our community is suffering. We cannot wait for the EPA to step in and regulate this for us.

Arguments Against:

First, the refining industry (which is the clear target of this bill) is one of the more regulated industries in the country. Note that incidents paraded in the arguments for section are all known because these things are heavily monitored. Of course no one can be perfect, but Suncor has poured $1.6 billion into upgrading this refinery in the past 14 years and continues to work with the state government anytime there is an issue (as do all other regulated refineries). State regulators themselves have noted that Suncor has generally been proactive in identifying issues and self-reporting any potential compliance problems. These facilities are important to our state economy in creating the energy that we all use, including gasoline. This bill will dramatically increase their operating costs in the best-case scenarios and in the worst-case, force shutdowns of plants. People work at those plants and they are key cog in our energy supply chain, so any closures could have ripple effects in the oil and gas industry. By its very nature oil refining is a dirty business, if we want to have gasoline we can afford to put into our cars we cannot simply waive away all oil refineries. If the EPA has not decided these gases need to be regulated to this degree (and remember that the Democrats controlled the agency for eight years), then we don’t need to jump in and do it ourselves.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1265

HB20-1299 Enterprise Zone Investment Tax Credit For Renewable Energy Investments (Foote (D), Crowder (R)) [Young (D), Pelton (R)]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: About $20 million in lost revenue over the four years

Goal: Extend an existing tax credit for 80% of investments made in enterprise zones for renewable energy for four years and add investments in energy storage systems as qualifying for the credit.

Description:

Extends an existing tax credit for 80% of investments made in enterprise zones for renewable energy for four additional years, through 2023, and adds investments in energy storage systems as qualifying for the credit. Credit remains capped at $750,000 per year per taxpayer.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: December 2024

Arguments For:

We need to get as much renewable energy as possible online to help us fight climate change and our toxic air quality. Part of that is incentivizing investments in this energy, and in particular in enterprise zones to spur development in areas of the state that need it. Storage is a huge part of the renewable equation, in order to provide a reliable alternative to fossil fuels we have to be able to store captured energy for later use, so credits for storage systems fits perfectly into this program.

Arguments Against:

We need to stop putting our thumb on the scales for renewable energy sources, which also clearly is meant to drive fossil fuel use down. Fossil fuels are a huge economic driver in Colorado, including oil and gas extraction and development and coal. Those are all jobs that exist right now here in Colorado and the severance taxes paid on this activity helps fund a wide variety of things in the state, including our schools. Let the renewable industry stand or fall on its own.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1299

HB20-1374 Repeal Waste Grease Program (Zenzinger (D), Rankin (R)) [Esgar (D), Ransom (R)]

From the Joint Budget Committee

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: 0.7 full-time employees

Goal: Repeal the Waste Grease program

Description:

Repeals the Waste Grease program that provides additional oversight to the proper collection, transportation, and disposal of trap grease, usually from food service businesses.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

This program, which has not been subjected to a sunset review process, is not necessary. There are state and federal laws that handle this behavior, so that is sufficient to keep the haulers and facilities in compliance without the regulatory structure, which also lacks teeth and has been relatively ineffective.

Arguments Against:

There are about 160 registered waste haulers and 8 registered waste grease facilities in the state. If grease is disposed of improperly it can cause sewer blockages or wastewater backups. It’s worth the 0.7 FTE in cost (the actual oversight costs are covered by registration fees) and we should improve the program if necessary for it to work better.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB1374

SB20-003 State Parks Improvement Appropriation (Garcia (D)), Hisey (R)) [Esgar (D), Will (R)]

AMENDED: Very Significant

PASSED

Appropriation: $10 $6 $1 million
Fiscal Impact: Estimated revenue increase of $250,000 per year by year 3 due to increased visits to state parks

Goal: Appropriate money for a new state park and to existing state parks for infrastructure improvements.

Description:

Gives $4 million $6 million no money but directs the state to seach for gifts, grants, and donations to develop the new state park, Fishers Peak. Gives another $6 million $1 million for capital construction related to infrastructure projects in existing parks to address increased visitation. Requires the state to submit a report by the end of the year detailing park funding needs and shortfalls.

Additional Information:

Fishers Peak was chosen as the state’s next state park by a partnership between the city of Trinidad, Great Outdoors Colorado, The Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, and Colorado parks and wildlife. It was purchased from the previous private owners last year and made a state park by Governor Polis.


Auto-Repeal: Any unspent money gets returned to the state after three years.

Arguments For:

The state has 41 state parks currently but has not added a new one since 2013 and the state system has actually lost acreage in that time. These parks contribute $1.2 billion a year to the state economy, with visitation steadily rising in recent years. More than 2 million more people visited state parks in our last fiscal year (2018-19) than in fiscal year 2014-15. The parks have not been able to keep pace with this increased load and need more capital funds. We already drastically increased a lot of parks and hunting and fishing fees just last year so we can’t simply go to that well again for more money and this is a one-time capital investment, not an on-going monetary need, so we don’t want a permanent flow of funds. This is quite simply an investment in a critical Colorado industry that generates large amounts of money for our economy and an investment in what many love about our state (estimated additional $250,000 a year). It’s a win-win-win, as the new park will benefit the local economy in Trinidad as well. The cut in funding for the new park is sadly required with our current budget woes, hopefully private funds can step in and if not, we can revisit when we have more money.

Arguments Against:

When we owe our schools hundreds of millions of dollars and have billions of dollars in transportation backlogs, we can’t simply spend ten six 1 million dollars on our park system. The parks already charge fees to enter them, and we have other recreational activity fees we can leverage to raise more funds. If the money is so desperately needed, raise on the backs of the people using these parks and save the state funds for more critical areas. If the fee increases last year were not sufficient, then raise them some more. If 11 million people are visiting state parks each year, then it won’t take much of an increase to raise the $10 $6 $1 million million required.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-003

SB20-008 Enhance Penalties Water Quality Criminal Violations (Winter (D), Foote (D)) [Jackson (D), Hooton (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None (increased jail-time may off-set increased fines)

Goal: Greatly increase the penalties for criminal pollution of water, including adding potential jail time.

Description:

Doubles the daily fines for criminally negligent or reckless pollution and knowing or intentional pollution (to $25,000 and $50,000 respectively). Make negligent or reckless a misdemeanor subject to up to one year of jail and knowing and intentional a class 5 felony subject to up to three years of jail. Makes tampering with water quality monitoring devices or knowingly making false representations in required records a class 5 felony (was a misdemeanor), with two separate occurrences within two years doubling the maximum fine and imprisonment amounts.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

A recent comparison of Colorado to other states found the 4th highest amount of pollution per number of industrial facilities in the country. Clean water is a fundamental life necessity from drinking water to agriculture and recreation. If it isn’t clean, then we have to pay to treat it. People tend to get a lot more serious about behaving when larger amounts of money are at stake, and in particular, jail time as well. So this bill increases those penalties for individuals involved in illegal pollution, which should provide not only greater tools for enforcement but also stronger deterrence.

Arguments Against:

In the past ten years there have been three prosecutions under these laws. The state has imposed penalties on heavy polluter companies, including nearly $1 million in a Park County case, but in general the problem seems to be more a lack of state enforcement on polluters and the individuals in those companies than insufficient criminal penalties. So it people are not worried about being prosecuted they aren’t likely to worry about what the penalty is.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-008

SB20-010 Repeal Ban On Local Government Regulation Of Plastics (Donovan (D)) [Froelich (D), A. Valdez (D)]

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Allow local governments to set their own rules on plastics and packaging

Description:

Repeals prohibition on local governments banning use or sale of specific types of plastics and on restricting or mandating containers, packaging, or labels for consumer products

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

One of the great ecological disasters of our time is plastic trash. A 2015 study found that we were depositing 8 million tons of plastic waste into our oceans each year, with the trend line doubling by 2025. The result is plastic waste everywhere, including massive islands of it in the ocean. One of the biggest issues is that there are different types of plastic with varying abilities to be recycled and varying levels of degradation and the cheapest to manufacture are generally the worst for the environment. So we need to give communities the tools to decide for themselves what types of plastic to allow and, critically, the ability to cut down on the amount of plastic being used by cutting down on unnecessary plastic packaging. To use just one example, it is currently illegal for a city to ban plastic bags. Denver was interested in doing this last year only to discover that it could not, because of the language this bill changes. Colorado is one of only 10 states in the country with such a law (which by the way is in the recycling section of state law). Changing this law is the gateway to communities taking issues like plastic bags, single use straws, and Styrofoam containers into their own hands.

Arguments Against:

Patchwork regulations are bad for businesses that have multiple locations across the state. It becomes difficult for them to operate when they have to figure where they can use plastic bags and where they cannot, where they can use single-use straws, etc. Even if you exclude special districts, Colorado has 333 different local governments. While we likely won’t have that many different sets of rules, as many local governments will enact the same bans, it still is a recipe for confusion. This may have the unintended effect of some businesses deciding to skip certain locations in the state if the business finds the local regulations too onerous. In addition, forcing businesses to use costlier alternatives to certain plastics may result in those costs being passed on to consumers.


This is too critical an issue just to leave it up to local governments. We need to enact state-wide rules on plastics.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-010

SB20-012 Transmit Renewable Energy Conservation Easements (Winter (D), Tate (R)) [Hansen (D)]

From the Energy Legislation Review Interim Study Committee

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Allow electric transmission lines being used to transmit renewable energy across land subject to conservation easements.

Description:

Allows conservation easement owners to modify the land to allow the placement of electric transmission lines that are primarily to transmit renewable energy. Design and placement must be consistent with the conservation purposes of the easement.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Conservation easements of course are more frequently found in rural areas, and these are the areas where getting renewable power out to folks is harder. Renewable energy and conservation go together, they share similar aims. So it makes sense to allow transmission lines on easements if we are doing so for the purposes of renewable energy transmissions.

Arguments Against:

While the goal of spreading renewable energy is commendable, the goal of easements is to preserve the land in this specific spot. Adding power transmission lines, even if carefully designed and placed, may make that preservation more difficult.


We shouldn’t be playing favorites in the energy sector: traditional power lines should also be allowed so long as they are also carefully designed and placed.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-012

SB20-013 Promote Innovative And Clean Energy Technologies (Rodriguez (D))

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriations: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Allow public utilities to attempt innovative energy projects with low or zero-emission resources and other conservation technologies with the ability to recover associated costs from the public.

Description:

Allows investor-owned public utilities to apply to the public utilities commission for an innovative energy technology project. This is a generation or storage technology that either by itself or in combination with other tech, has minimal or no emissions of CO2 and can meet system energy requirements. The utility must use fuels or resources located in Colorado and any facilities must also be in state. The utility can apply for cost recovery from consumers (which always must be approved by the commission) and may ask for help from the state for gaining federal funds. Commission must provide for public comment on proposals.

Additional Information:

Innovative technology may include:

  • Advanced renewable energy
  • Long-duration energy storage, including pumped hydroelectric, low-to-zero-carbon fuels, and emerging battery technology
  • Resources powered by renewable natural gas, clean hydrogen, or other fuels synthesized through low-to-zero-carbon processes
  • Fossil fuel technology with carbon capture, including technology that removes carbon from the atmosphere
  • Advanced nuclear energy

In their application to commission, utilities must include:

  • Operating characteristics and economic and technical feasibility of project
  • Projected cost and rate recovery requested
  • Value to state economy and how the project advances emission reduction objectives
  • Projected water savings, emission rates, and any other environmental benefits
  • Any environmental or public safety impacts
  • CO2 emissions associated with operation

Utility entitled to recover all prudently incurred research, planning, development, construction, start-up, and operating costs if the project is abandoned or cancelled due to the risks associated with the technology’s development. In this case costs must be recovered over at least five years. State can provide technical support to a utility. Utilities applying for an innovative technology project are exempt from usual competitive bidding requirements of the commission.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Climate change is real and it is happening all around the world. We keep piling up record highs and collecting top 5 record warmest years around the world. We have seen increased flooding in coastal areas, more dangerous storms (how many 100 year weather events can we have in the space of a few years?), and more dangerous fires. Technology got us into the mess and technology is going to have to get us out of it. We have to find even more innovative ways of delivering zero-emission power and quite frankly, we are running out of time to do it. We cannot wait for the market to work its will, we have to give it a push. And that push means incentivizing utility companies to take big swings by cushioning their downside risk. If we succeed at just a few of these projects, we will not only be helping save our climate but we will also be creating the next generation of energy that the entire world will use. The more we can locate that energy in Colorado the better positioned our state economy will be.

Arguments Against:

This bill offers a no-risk blank check to utilities to experiment with our money. If the experiment fails, the utility simply collects all of their costs from consumers, with the state’s blessing. If the experiment succeeds, the utility gets to collect some costs and then reap the benefits of developing emerging technology that may become a blueprint for others. It also will encourage utilities to abandon non-subsidized forms of energy, like coal (which provides ½ of our net power generation right now) and natural gas (which provides ¼). 1,300 workers are employed in coal mines and many more at existing fossil fuel 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. We may help create a new energy technology (on the backs of Colorado consumers) only to see it largely disappear to other states or even other countries, there are no guarantees that all of the green jobs associated with these new technologies would stay in state, even if the new facilities are located here.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-013

SB20-030 Consumer Protections For Utility Customers (Garcia (D), Rodriguez (D)) [Esgar (D)]

From the Investor-Owned Utility Review Interim Study Committee

AMENDED: Moderate

PASSED

Appropriation: $16,545
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Create rules for utilities to follow for disconnecting service due to delinquency and some other consumer protections.

Description:

Requires public utilities commission to create rules for gas and electric utilities to use when disconnecting service due to non-payment. Must address language issues, allowed shut-off times, terms to fix delinquency, reconnection fees and deposit requirements, protection for those with medical necessities and in extreme heat and cold, referrals to payment aid resources, and requiring live interaction prior to disconnection. Requires utilities to operate non-standard rates on an opt-in basis commission to ensure that any changes to utility rate design does not result in an increase the utilities' net revenue or higher aggregated bills result in a revenue neutral outcome. Commission must consider that higher rates that negatively impact low-income customers and families on fixed incomes are not in the public interest. Requires utilities to periodically report the number of customers who are receiving the medical exemption to tiered energy rates and to describe efforts the utilities have made to facilitate qualified customers enrolling in the program. Changes threshold for means test for medical exemption from 250% to 400% of the federal poverty line. Requires commission to study utilities reporting positive payment history to credit agencies. Study due to legislature by March 15, 2021.

Additional Information:

Exact subjects the rules for disconnection must address are:

  • Requirement to provide shut-off notices in multiple languages as appropriate to the geographic area
  • Limiting shut-off times to between 6 AM and 2 PM Monday through Friday, excluding holidays, so as to allow possible reconnection on same day reasonable hours of the day.
  • Prescribed terms and conditions for payment plans to cure delinquency
  • Referral of delinquent customers to energy payment assistance resources such as Energy Outreach Colorado, charities, and state agencies that provide or administer federal funds for low-income energy assistance
  • Standardized reconnection fees and standard practices for imposition of deposit requirements for reconnection
  • Protection policies for customers for whom electricity is a medical necessity
  • Prohibitions on disconnection of service during periods of extreme heat or cold, as appropriate to geographic region
  • Prohibition on remote disconnection without first making a reasonable attempt to engage in either a physical visit to the premises or a live telephone conversation with the customer
  • At least quarterly annual reporting requirements to provide standardized information from all utilities about disconnections and delinquencies. Also an annual report containing the utility’s analysis of any trends or inconsistencies in the data


Arguments For:

We need greater consumer protections when it comes to our utilities. These are just any bill, we need electricity to live in our modern era. We need heat in Colorado winters and increasingly, ways to keep cool in our summers. Laying out guidelines for how utilities can navigate the area of delinquency is important to ensure that we do everything we can to help people keep the power or gas on and ways to get it back on if it is turned off. We also have to make sure we have eyes on this situation, in part so we can respond quickly if necessary to any disturbing emerging trends. For credit payments, this is a way we might be able to help customers who are making their payments improve their credit. But of course it requires some study first.

Arguments Against:

This is too much interference in the daily operations of our utilities. At some point personal responsibility has to be important, and if someone doesn’t pay their bills our utilities should not have to bend over backwards to accommodate that person. We all know what happens if you don’t pay your utility bill, no one should be caught by surprise. We also don’t need to spend state resources on a credit study. Plenty of things already build someone’s credit profile.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-030

SB20-055 Incentivize Development Recycling End Markets (Priola (R), Story (D)) [Cutter (D), Arndt (D)]

From the Zero Waste and Recycling Interim Study Committee

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Appropriation: $985,283
Fiscal Impact: Need new fiscal note

Goal: Create a Recycling Market Development Center to support existing and new end-market recycling in the state and rebate some local property taxes for recycling businesses to encourage industrial development.

Description:

Creates the Recycling Market Development Center to support existing and new end-market recycling businesses that process or reuse recyclable materials into new products sold or otherwise provided to end users. The pollution prevention advisory boardstate is to convene a stakeholder group to flesh out the center and report back to the general assembly with the recommended structure of the center by July 2021. Center is to evaluate short- and long-term capacity of existing recycling markets, identify recycling business targets and feasible incentives that could bring these businesses to Colorado, develop a recycling material database to identify sources and regions, recommending legislative policies, connecting businesses with available funding assistance, providing market research and business development assistance, recommend public outreach campaigns, and integrate with existing solid waste and climate action plans. Board State must also create a formula for reimbursing a recycling business for locally assessed personal property taxes the business paid. Must exclude first $18,000 in actual value eligible for income tax credits. To be paid out of existing cash funds if available. Requires a statewide recycling education campaign to increase recycling, starting in October as soon as possible.

Additional Information:

Stakeholders that must be consulted for the center creation are:

  • Institutions of higher education
  • Experts in various recycling types
  • Waste haulers
  • Material recovery facility operators
  • Brokers
  • Any other relevant entities

Stakeholders must review what other states have done and explore funding opportunities, both public and private, for the center. State must also conduct a literature review of what industry and other states are doing around the country regarding producer responsibility and create policy recommendations for producer packaging to aid recycling. Report due by July 2021. For the tax abatement, property located outside the front range is to be paid from the Recycling Resources Economic Opportunity Fund, within front range from the Front Range Waste Diversion Cash Fund. Objectives of statewide education campaign are to increase recycling and educate residents about specific recyclable materials and habits that can increase efficiency. Campaign must include social media, TV and radio public service announcements, and written materials in public locations.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

We need to build a stronger recycling network in the state so we aren’t shipping things out of state and we need to be able to recycle more in order to get a hold on our catastrophic trash problem. A 2015 study found that we were depositing 8 million tons of plastic waste into our oceans each year, with the trend line doubling by 2025. The result is plastic waste everywhere, including massive islands of it in the ocean. And given the realities of the recycling market, where we rely heavily on other countries to do the actual recycling, we actually have an opportunity to build some recycling infrastructure here. We also have to drive down the costs of recycling so it actually becomes cheaper for companies to use recycled materials rather than new materials. Property, plant, and equipment is a heavy burden for recycling companies, especially since this is really still an emerging technology field. So the tax rebate should help these companies scale up faster. Recycling also needs a lot more education. People don’t do all of the things they need to do to make recycling possible with plastics in particular, which makes single-stream recycling a much more difficult proposition. Some of that can be solved with better technology but some of it must also come from better public education.

Arguments Against:

Recycling is not what we think it is. First, many things that get put into recycling bins are not in fact recyclable in their current form. So that means someone has to sift through it all, which as a country we’ve decided to solve by shipping our recycling to Asia. But some of those countries have gotten fed up with that process as well and don’t want to accept any more. Pouring yet more resources and time into this flawed process which is currently experiencing large struggles is not what we should do.


This tax credit doesn’t require any actual investment from a company in order to get relief. So a business that it not upgrading its equipment can get credit for activity it is not doing. It is also siphoning funds out of specific cash funds designed for grant programs, which may damage those grant programs. We also don’t repay business personal property taxes with state funds for anyone else, so this industry, while important, shouldn’t be an exception.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-055

SB20-058 Facilitate Asphalt Shingle Recycling (Marble (R)) [Saine (R)]

AMENDED: Very Significant

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Allow businesses that transfer asphalt shingles out of Colorado for recycling in other states to temporarily store shingles.

Description:

Allows asphalt shingles to be transported and stored in railroad cars pending delivery for recycling and pending recycling at a recycling facility and stored outside pending delivery for recycling and stored outside of a recycling facility pending recycling. Creates a pilot program in Fremont and Pueblo counties to establish recyling facilities to accept, store, and find end-market recylcers for shingle asphalt. Any facility must provide financial assurance to its county in a form and amount determined by the county for the purposes of covering potential final closure or postclosure care or for any corrective actions required a the facility. Must comply with recycling laws in the county. Facilities get one year to prove there is a market for their shingles. This can be either a signed contract or receipts for their product. Can transport by truck or rail.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

A business in Windsor was forced to shut down last year that was doing exactly this: temporarily storing shingles that were then transported out of state and converted at other facilities into oil, gravel, and fiberglass. This is obviously behavior we want to encourage, rather than having shingles end up in landfills. Whether or not the state should allow shingle recycling is another issue, it did until 2015 due to a lack of a market

Arguments Against:

We should not make laws to benefit one business. This bill’s scope is clearly intended to allow this one business to continue operating but why not look bigger? If asphalt shingles can be recycled, let’s do it in Colorado and then there won’t be a need to have a law that companies can store shingles if they are going to recycle them. If the problem was companies accepting shingles and then not recycling them, causing piles ups of waste, then that is a problem with enforcing laws, not a reason to not have recycling at all.


We tried recyling shingles in this state and there was no market. They are a hazardous material to just pile up in any spot and we should not allow any business to do that in Colorado.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-058

SB20-121 Manage Gray Wolves In Colorado (Donovan (D))

AMENDED: Minor

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: This bill has a $280,000 impact, the estimated impact of reintroduction is $4.1 million with about $800,000 in on-going costs after that

Goal: Require the state to create a plan for managing gray wolves in the state and reintroducing them only if the state can come up with a new revenue stream to compensate livestock owners for damages caused by the wolves and if wolves have not already migrated into the state in sufficient numbers to form a self-sustaining population.

Description:

Authorizes the state to adopt a plan to manage and reintroduce, if necessary, gray wolves into Colorado. This plan must include reintroduction of wolves into a suitable habitat, recover them from the habitat to monitor the program’s progress, and manage the wolves so as to promote a sustainable population while minimizing damage to livestock and adverse impacts on livestock owners. Must conduct a public comment process and use the best scientific data available in creating the plan. Plan must be periodically updated.

State cannot impose any land, water, or resource use restrictions on private landowners to fulfill this bill. State must develop a way to compensate livestock owners for loss of animals to wolves and for setting compensation wolves must be considered a big game animal. State must also finance an education program on avoidance and mitigation of wolf-related damage.

State must create a study group to consider how to verify that damages actually came from wolves, including utilizing livestock population data to demonstrate loss of production. Group must also determine how to finance the payment of these damages by the state from a new revenue stream. Report due by end of 2021 to legislature.

State may only reintroduce wolves if it can find a revenue source for damages and if the wolves have not already migrated into the state in a self-sustaining population. If reintroduction happens it must start before the end of 2025.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Gray wolves are an endangered species and have not been present in Colorado before this year in a sustained manner in since 1940 (some lone wolves do wander into the state at times). There is a ballot measure coming in November to do much of what this bill proposes, but in a less responsible way. It makes no provision for structural groups to study how best to achieve reintroduction. It makes no provision for how the state is to pay compensation for damages suffered. And it also makes no allowance for the fact that this may not even be necessary. The state believes an entire pack of wolves is now present in the state and although this alone is likely not enough to not require reintroduction it is possible we won’t need to do anything more than let time pass. Of course we still would need to manage the wolf population and figure out how to compensate livestock owners, so the bill requires these things to happen regardless. And the estimated cost of a full-blown reintroduction, so just the costs associated with that part of this, is over $4 million. So if we don’t need to, let’s not spend that money. As for the core concept, having wolves in the state would connect wolf packs in the northern Rockies with those in Arizona and New Mexico as well as provide a natural predator to deer and elk herds.

Arguments Against:

Gray wolves may in fact be delisted as an endangered species by the federal government (there is a pending rule to do it) and have already been delisted in the northern Rockies. There is no real purpose served by having a continuous region of wolves from the southwest through the northern Rockies, so the question falls more on the concept of a natural predator for deer and elk populations. We can manage these fine ourselves without wolves. So why reintroduce a species that may no longer be endangered and most certainly will cause livestock owners damage? We should not pass the ballot measure coming this year or this bill.


Since we are going to have an opportunity to let the voters weigh in, we should let them do so. Passing this bill cannot stop the ballot measure on its own and then we could have competing measures in statute. The people behind the ballot measure have said they do not support this bill. Let’s see what happens and then we can always create a study group next year if the measure passes to figure out an alternative revenue source.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-121

SB20-125 Prohibit Exotic Animals In Traveling Performances (Ginal (D), Zenzinger (D)) [Froelich (D), Duran (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Ban the use of exotic animals in performances associated with traveling acts.

Description:

Bans the use of exotic animals in performances associated with traveling acts. This does not prohibit exhibitions at wildlife sanctuaries, permanent institutions accredited by Association of Zoos and Aquariums or the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, or as part of some environmental education programs, or by a research facility licensed or registered under the federal Animal Welfare Act to conduct research. Penalty for violation is unclassified misdemeanor and fine of $250-$1,000 per violation.

Additional Information:

Performance is defined as having the animal do tricks or otherwise perform for the benefit of an audience or for photography purposes. For environmental education programs, they must be either accredited by Association of Zoos and Aquariums, permitted by state as wildlife rehabilitator or falconer, certified as environmental educator by Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education, or hold a degree in environmental education from an institution of higher education. If these requirements are met, the animals must not be used for more than six months in a year and not kept in a mobile or traveling housing facility for more than 12 hours a day.

Exotic animals are defined as not pets, livestock, or alternative livestock that is not native to Colorado. The specific list includes:

  • Cetartiodactyla other than bison, cattle, deer, elk, goats, reindeer, swine, and sheep (hoofed animals that bear weight equally on toes and whales, dolphins, and porpoises)
  • Felidae other than domestic cats (wild cats)
  • Wild canidae other than domestic dogs (wild dogs)
  • Marsupialia (pouch to carry young)
  • Nonhuman primates (non-human apes and monkeys)
  • Perissodactyla other than horses, donkeys, and mules (the other hoofed animals
  • Pinnipedia (seals, sea lions, and walruses)
  • Proboscidea (elephants)
  • Ratites (flightless birds)
  • Spheniscidae (penguins)
  • Ursidae (bears)


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Circus animals are confined for virtually their entire lives in rough conditions that in no way approximate their natural habitats. They spend most of their time in cages or in chains and frequently travel for long stretches in trucks and box cars with no climate control. When they are allowed out, it is for training (which frequently includes negative reinforcement discipline involving prods or sticks) and performances. Three other states already have similar bans. This bill will not prevent the stock show, the zoo, or the aquarium from operating as they have been, nor will it apply to animals who are traveling for legitimate research or breeding purposes. This of course does not ban circuses, it just bans using animals in them. And that is where we are going anyway, with Ringling Brothers shuttering a few years ago as a prime example. We have wised up that we cannot treat these animals this way, no matter if the wild is sometimes a dangerous place or if it sometimes difficult to find appropriate homes for circus animals. And this is not an insurmountable problem. We can make the effort to rehouse them in good, appropriate homes instead of continuing to subject them to this life. At least, not in Colorado. This will obviously not end the animal circus industry in the United States but it is the best we can do in that direction.

Arguments Against:

The reality of the wild is very different than what many people imagine. It is frequently a brutal place where death can lurk around many corners: from starvation, from other animals, or from human hunters. Animals in circuses are fed, given medical attention, and a space to live, even if that life is not what we would hope for in all situations. There is also a legitimate question of what becomes of these animals after the circus closes or no longer uses them. The sanctuary community is quite full (and we had a nasty incident with the shuttering of an unlicensed sanctuary in this state a few years ago). These animals cannot go back (or into for the first time) the wild. We certainly do not want them owned by private individuals (not all states ban this practice). So we should look before we leap.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-125

SB20-130 Backcountry Search And Rescue In Colorado (Donovan (D), Rankin (R)) [McCluskie (D), Wilson (R)]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: $208,190
Fiscal Impact: None beyond appropriation

Goal: Study how to improve backcountry search and rescue coordination, support for rescuers, training, and public education.

Description:

Requires state to conduct a study and develop recommendations on how to address the challenges associated with backcountry search and rescue, including improving coordination among different groups and agencies, workers’ compensation and retirement benefits for people providing search and rescue services including volunteers, compensation and reimbursement of expenses for volunteers, equipment availability, physical and psychological supports and resources, immunity issues and training for volunteers, and need for public outdoor safety education. Report due by January 2021. Also requires state to conduct outreach and training on physical and psychological stress injuries and impacts faced by volunteers. May include working with consultants or creating a grant program but is not required to do either.

Additional Information:

Backcountry search and rescue is defined utilization, training, and support of responders with their specialized equipment, coordinated by a sheriff during emergencies or disasters in the state, including volunteer teams:

  • Locating lost or injured individuals in remote areas
  • Accessing individuals who are injured, stuck, stranded, or trapped
  • Recovering the bodies of deceased individuals
  • Assessing and mitigating hazardous terrain or conditions
  • Providing emergency on-scene medical and psychological care
  • Evacuating or transporting injured, stuck, stranded, or entrapped individuals
  • Providing public outdoor safety education
  • Providing for the physical and psychological well-being of first responders involved in backcountry search and rescue
  • Training individuals and teams to provide backcountry search and rescue services
  • Other related services performed on the orders of a sheriff

Study must consult with: county sheriffs, public and non-profit backcountry search and rescue organizations, department of public safety, department of local affairs, Colorado Avalanche Information Center, local governments, and other entities affected by or involved with backcountry search and rescue.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Backcountry search and rescue is a vital service ensuring the safety of Colorado residents and visitors and is best accomplished with the cooperation and coordination of local backcountry search and rescue teams, county sheriffs, the Colorado National Guard, other local partners, and state, local, and federal government agencies. And volunteer first responders risk their health in braving sometimes dangerous conditions in backcountry areas to help anyone in need. And the need is rising, as more people move to the state and more people, including visitors, seek to enjoy our backcountry, unfortunately not always safely. As a result, rescues are on the rise, as are costs, which puts strain on our backcountry rescuers and on our rural communities. So we need an all-hands on deck examination of what we can do to make this work better for everyone involved. We can increase public safety, the safety and well-being of our rescuers, and the economic well-being of our rural communities.

Arguments Against:

Right now we generate some state funding for backcountry search and rescue for a variety of outdoors activities but we really should come down more on the side of personal responsibility here. Anyone who has to be rescued should be paying some sort of penalty that begins to address the costs involved with having to save them. And if that is not enough, then we can look into perhaps increasing these other fees. As for the volunteers, they are by definition, there without compensation and of their own free will because they want to help. And that is laudable and noble. But it is not something that deserves compensation, retirement benefits, workers’ compensation, and repayment of expenses. All of those things come with a job, and this is not a job.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-130

SB20-135 Conservation Easement Working Group Proposals (Sonnenberg (R), Donovan (D)) [Roberts (D), Wilson (R)]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: $5 million taken from tax credits for easements this year
Fiscal Impact: Complicated. Beyond appropriation One-time loss of $149 million in refunded tax credits. On-going loss of $17 million for increased credits. On-going costs of $3 million.

Goal: Make multiple changes to the conservation easement program, including properly compensating taxpayers who were improperly denied tax credits between 2000 and 2013, adjusting the amount of credit that can be claimed in future easements, setting up a process for dealing with abandoned easements, and creating an ombudsperson to handle disputes.

Description:

Makes multiple changes to the conservation easement program, based on the recommendations of a working group created last year to study the issue.

  • Requires the state to provide compensation for taxpayers who were denied income tax credits for conservation easements between 2000 and 2013 if the federal government allowed a deduction for the same donation. Amount is credit based on the value accepted by the IRS, reduced by any amount that was subsequently allowed or reinstated to the taxpayer. Bill provides a process for resolving who gets the credit if it was transferred to another taxpayer. Compensation is limited by number of available unused credits from 2013-2019. If that is not sufficient to pay everyone who is owed money, the ceiling is boosted by 50% and future years are reduced by the same amount (so the total spent remains the same over time). Claims paid out in order received. State must notify every taxpayer who had a claim denied in these years. Claimants have until the end of next year to apply for their credits.
  • Modifies the method of calculating the amount of the tax credit that can be claimed by easement donors. Changes the amount an easement donor can claim for tax credits from 75% to 90% of the fair market value of the land when the easement was created for future easements. Overall cap of $5 million remains, and the distribution of credits in $1.5 million maximum increments per year also remains.
  • Creates an ombudsperson to assist in resolving disputes related to easements that were transferred to another party. May be an employee of the state or another professional with knowledge of conservation easement transactions. If the parties cannot come to an agreement with the ombudsperson’s assistance, then it may be referred to an arbitrator for final judgment (state pays for this).
  • Sets out parameters for investigating abandoned easements. State may only declare an easement abandoned if it is held by an entity that either is nonfunctioning but not legally dissolved, functioning but has submitted a written letter to the state saying it is unwilling or unable to continue serving the easement, or has not completed its annual monitoring obligations for three straight years. State is to appoint a receiver for the abandoned easement after a public hearing. Must be the commission or the board of county commissioners for the county where the easement is located. $5 million is taken away from the easement credits that may be given out this year and given to a fund to support these receivers in continuing to maintain the easements. The commission may start proceedings to end the easement with the permission of the landowner. Receivers and landowners have five years to either end the easement or transfer it to someone else. Ombudsperson to help if there is a dispute, and if that doesn’t solve it, again final arbitration paid for by state.

Additional Information:

State must notify all affected property owners by October 2020. Notice must outline process for applying for compensation, describe criteria used to determine it, and any relevant deadlines. Taxpayers applying for compensation must include the following a copy of the federal tax form used to substantiate the federal tax deduction and if the amount was adjusted, documentation confirming the amount ultimately allowed by the IRS. If more than one person has claim to these credits they can work together. Applicants must attempt to notify anyone who would be eligible for a portion of the credits and anyone who receives this notice has 90 days to file an objection. Objection must state the alternative compensation proposed. Ombudsperson to sort these objections out. State must release funds 30 days after final resolution (or if there was no objection, 30 days after objection deadline expired).

For investigations of abandoned easements, state must open investigation promptly upon being aware of potential abandonment. It has 10 days from opening of investigation to notify landowner and easement holder of the investigation by certified mail at last known address. Must explain investigation process, potential outcomes, and provide contact information. Decision on abandonment rests with commission (after public hearing). Landowner may determine if the commission or the board of county commissioners will be receiver. If the easement is declared abandoned, state has 10 days to notify all affected landowners and easement holders by mail to last known address. Must explain basis for declaration, process and timelines for receivership, options available to landowner including ending easement, a list of all entities in the state certified to hold easements, contact information for questions, and instructions for the landowner to rank in order of preference who they would like to hold the easement in the future. Commission must review each easement in receivership after one year and place into one of three categories: easements that can be reassigned without changes, easements that need to be changed to be reassigned, and easements that cannot be reassigned. If an easement is reassigned, the new owner has a right to a portion of the funds held to manage the easement by the state. Exact amount to be determined by new holder and state.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

The state did great damage to a number of property holders between 2000 and 2013 by arbitrarily disallowing easement tax credits to landowners who were doing everything right on their end. To the tune of more than $144 million over those 14 years. Beyond the redress of landowners done wrong, the bill also sets up a badly needed process for abandoned easements and creates an ombudsperson to attempt to resolve disputes in various areas. This bill is a bipartisan agreement following careful study of how to remedy that harm and allow the easement program to move forward into a new era that will allow it to serve its mission of protecting our natural resources while rewarding property owners who participate. This is the culmination of two years of legislative work to reform the program so it works fairly for all involved.

Arguments Against:

It is not fair to the owners of previously created easements that new easements will get 90% instead of 75% of value. Yes the overall cap remains, but anyone who was below that cap is losing out on tax credits merely by creating an easement at the wrong time. Program should be the same for everyone, so either more retroactive credits are in order or we should keep it the same going forward.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-135

SB20-142 Pet Animal Facility Licensing (Marble (R)) [Saine (R)]

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Minimal

Goal: Decrease licensing fees on pet animal facility operators, adds an exemption for pet animal rescues, and lifts prohibition on importing pets by operators unless they are licensed.

Description:

Lifts the prohibition on importing any pet for sale or trade by a pet animal facility operator unless they are licensed. Removes exemption from pet animal care and facilities regulations for boarders who have three dogs or less. Adds an exemption for pet animal rescues that are exempt for federal taxation. Lowers the license fee cap from $700 to $500, except for the three boarders or less group which is capped at $125. Prohibits charging a groomer that is an independent contractor more than $50 to renew their license.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

These fees and regulations are just too high for many smaller operators, when they have to have fees for each individual independent contractor. It can add up to over $1,000 in fees when individuals are factored in. Rescuers are also paying multiple fees to multiple levels of government. This also tends to push these smaller operators out into the shadow market. It also doesn’t make sense on the one hand to exempt facilities for under three dogs and then put heavy regulations on those who are small but not run via an app.

Arguments Against:

It is dangerous to remove regulations from animal rescues and shelters, they have more violations than others in these areas and are importing tens of thousands of dogs into the state. We had to shut down or serious sanction rescues just last year. Not being able to regulate people importing dogs into the state removes our ability to ensure this happens safely and that we aren’t bringing diseases into the state. Our pet animal licensing program is self-funding and one of the best such programs in the country. Lower the funding and you lower the program’s ability to operate. A business’ ability to stay in business isn’t going to hinge on a few hundred dollars in licensing fees.


Removing the three and under exemption essentially makes it illegal for people to watch a few dogs for someone else, including those registered with gig platforms.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-142

SB20-150 Adopt Renewable Natural Gas Standard (Hansen (D), Coram (R)) [Arndt (D), Catlin (R)]

AMENDED: Moderate

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: $83,555
Fiscal Impact: Minimal beyond appropriation

Goal: Create a renewable natural gas standard for larger natural gas companies and allow them to recapture some of the costs associated with meeting that standard.

Description:

Creates a renewable natural gas standard for natural gas utilities with 200,000 250,000 or more customers of at least 5% of all natural gas by 2025, 10% by 2030, and 15% by 2035. Municipally owned natural gas utilities are exempt. If the utility’s total annual cost increase required to meet these targets goes above 5% 2% (less savings from value received by using renewable natural gas) in any year it shall not make any additional investments without the approval of the state public utilities commission. Utilities can, with approval by the commission, recover prudently incurred costs to meet these targets through higher rates to customers. Smaller natural gas utilities may opt-in to a program to recapture costs for delivering renewable natural gas in same manner. Commission must develop a renewable natural gas credits program that can be used by companies to comply with these requirements.

Additional Information:

Renewable natural gas must come from one of the following sources:

  • Biogas blended with or substituted for natural gas
  • Hydrogen gas derived from renewable energy sources
  • Methane gas derived from biogas, hydrogen gas or carbon oxides from renewable energy sources, waste CO2, coalbed methane resulting from human activity, naturally occurring coalbeds, solid waste landfills, waste tire or solid waste pyrolysis, or biogas recovered from manure management systems and anaerobic digesters

Commisson must set rules for gas cost adjustments to allow renewable gases purchases to be included in gas cost adjustments, create a prudence review standard to provide assurance renewable gas costs will be recoverable, and reflects credits received due to renewable gas will be a credit against costs included in the adjustment. Must also create rules for a tracking and verification process.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

The extraction of natural gas causes environmental problems, including emissions generated during the process, particularly disastrous if there is a methane leak. Renewable natural gas, which is created so as to operate in any system that uses natural gas, can actually have the opposite effect. Methane, one of the worst greenhouse gasses, naturally occurs in many areas and also is emitted by our own rotting trash. And because we are not turning live plants into fuel, we do not run into the same problems that alternative fuels such as ethanol or biodiesel do when it comes to the environmental impact of land use. We can literally turn trash into energy and at the same time prevent some of the worst greenhouse gasses from reaching our atmosphere. This is such a good trade-off that even though burning renewable natural gas causes similar environmental pollutants as regular natural gas fuel, it is still considered carbon-negative. Because we are in a climate crisis, we have to act quickly. That means not waiting for the market to make renewable natural gas an attractive alternative but forcing our large utilities to start adopting it and incentivizing our smaller ones to do the same. The target percentages are low enough that we should have enough time to develop the infrastructure and technology needed to reach the goals without a problem.

Arguments Against:

Renewable natural gas still burns dirty, just like regular natural gas. It also not yet clear how scalable any of this is. California did a study which found that it could supply only 2.5% of statewide gas consumption based on in-state sources. In Colorado, about ¼ of our energy comes from natural gas. If many other states follow suit, we may have difficulty producing enough without large increases in technology (hydrogen gas for instance, cannot really be done yet at a commercial scale). So rather than expend resources on renewable natural gas, we should be replacing natural gas altogether with clean renewable electricity.


This bill offers a no-risk blank check to utilities to experiment with our money. If the experiment fails, the utility simply collects all of their costs from consumers, with the state’s blessing. If the experiment succeeds, the utility gets to collect some costs and then reap the benefits of developing emerging technology that may become a blueprint for others. We also have large amounts of natural gas here in Colorado, the 6th largest reserves in the nation and more than ¼ of total US coalbed methane reserves. Moving toward standards that require less natural gas may have an impact on jobs and economic activity, particularly if we get some of the renewable natural gas from sources outside the state.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-150

SB20-159 Global Warming Potential For Public Project Materials [Hansen (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

KILLED ON SENATE CALENDAR

Appropriation: $37,676
Fiscal Impact: Negligible each year

Goal: Require state to set rules for maximum acceptable global warming potential for certain construction items when used in a public project.

Description:

Requires the state to set rules for the maximum acceptable global warming potential for carbon steel rebar, flat glass, mineral wool board insulation, structural steel, concrete, and cement when used in a public project. State is to use base rules upon industry average of facility-specific global warming potential for the material based upon nationally or internationally recognized databases of environmental product declarations. State must report by end of year to legislature on its methodology. Every four years the state must review these averages and may adjust downward if the industry average has changed. It may not adjust upward. Beginning in July 2021 2022, all contractors must submit an environmental product declaration or similar life cycle assessment for each of the materials in this bill used in their public construction project. State can exempt materials for which there is not reasonable data on environmental impact for. This states quantifiable information on the environmental impact of the product from extraction to end of use. These must not exceed the maximum acceptable number set by the state. Government can ask for bids that utilize even lower numbers if the awarding entity wants. No material in this bill can be used on a public contract without submitting a product declaration. State must report to legislature by January 2023 on any obstacles to implementing this bill and how effective it has been in reducing global warming potential.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

We are the midst of a climate crisis. Sea levels are rising, temperatures are rising, draughts are increasing, and catastrophic climate events are increasing in frequency, including wildfires. As a state we have taken numerous tacks to address the crisis, from reducing emissions to encouraging green sources of fuel. What we have not yet done is take the enormous purchasing power of the state and put it to work on improving the climate impact of materials used in major construction projects. It is estimated that the emissions from manufacturing building materials accounts for more than 11% of global emissions. There is the potential for great quantities of emissions to be released during the manufacturing and transportation of these materials and the business community has already come up with a way for these impacts to be measured through environmental product declarations. So as a state we can improve outcomes and accelerate usage of materials created and transported in more environmentally friendly ways. By requiring this in state projects we can nudge companies toward using these products in all of their projects

Arguments Against:

The fiscal note prepared by the non-partisan legislative staff basically says it all: this may increase costs for future public construction projects but it is not possible to determine by how much. We need to look before we leap here, because while the goals of decreased emissions are laudable, we better make sure it isn’t going to cost taxpayers large amounts of money to achieve them. More study first to get an estimate of potential economic impacts, then we can see about requirements for public contracts.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-159

SB20-164 Treatment Dogs And Cats In Shelters And Rescues (Ginal (D), Fields (D)) [Duran (D), A. Valdez (D)]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Set some additional veterinary and behavioral care requirements for animal shelters and pet animal rescues and prohibit them from euthanizing healthy (or potentially healthy) and safe animals.

Description:

Requires all animal shelters and pet animal rescues to provide each dog and cat in their care timely veterinary care, to address the behavioral needs of the animals and ensure they are not kept in a manner that fosters obsessive compulsive or self-mutilating behavior. It also requires them to adopt out each dog in cat in its custody, return it to its owner, or transfer to another shelter if the animal either exhibits no sign of illness or injury or if the animal has an illness or injury for which there is a reasonable prognosis for a good quality of life and it is willing to interact socially with humans and it has not exhibited dangerous behavior towards other animal or humans.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

In essence, we are banning kill-shelters and rescues where animals can be put to death if they are not adopted out of the shelter in a timely enough manner or if the shelter runs out of space. This practice is already very rare in Colorado and the state has an established and well-organized transfer program to facilitate moving animals and placing them into the community when it is appropriate. This bill enshrines this practice into law while also putting safeguards into law to prevent dangerous cats and dogs from being dumped into communities. It also ensures the animals are kept in humane conditions. We have one of the best pet welfare systems in the country and this bill builds upon that tradition.

Arguments Against:

We need to be careful we aren’t setting standards we cannot keep. There are only so many households in this state and with dogs and cats being imported into the state for sale, we naturally end up with tens of thousands going to shelters. If we must provide these pets with humane living conditions (and obviously we should), what happens if we cannot find room for an animal? The current system works pretty well, as we have one of the lower kill rates in the country and a pretty robust transfer system already. We should leave it as is.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-164

SB20-168 Sustainable Severance & Property Tax Policies (Hansen (D), Pettersen (D)) [A. Valdez (D)]

AMENDED: Significant

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: About $2.3 million in first year, then none

Goal: Exempt more community solar gardens from property taxes and replace the lost revenue by gradually removing exemptions on coal-based severance taxes.

Description:

Extends an existing property tax exemption for community solar gardens for property used to generate electricity through 2026 and expands the exemption to include state-assessed property. Gradually removes an exemption on severance taxes for the first 300,000 tons of coal produced and a tax credit equal to 50% of severance taxes paid on underground coal. The exemption amount goes down to 240,000 tons in 2021, then 180,000 in 2022, then 120,000 in 2023, then 60,000 in 2024, and then zero in 2025. The tax credit goes down to 40% in 2021, then 30% in 2022, 20% in 2023, then 10% in 2024, and then zero in 2025. All additional revenue from severance taxes goes to reimburse counties from the lost revenue on the solar gardens. State is required to reimburse any funds the new severance money does not cover from the general fund.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: 2026 for community solar garden exemption

Arguments For:

This exemption for community solar gardens was set to expire next year. These are critical elements of our move away from dirty energy because they fill in gaps for people who cannot obtain solar energy on their property. But we recognize that counties need these taxes, and losing them costs about $5.5 million statewide. So we can replace that revenue with increased taxes on coal production, which we want to actively discourage since coal plants are being closed all over the country and here in Colorado. It is a dying industry. This revenue will of course diminish as coal production dwindles, but then the community solar garden exemption can expire and local governments can start getting their money from them instead.

Arguments Against:

We should not be picking one energy production method over another, particularly when one of them provides a lot of Colorado jobs. We rank 11th in coal production in the country, so tacking $5.5 million in extra costs onto an already struggling industry may threaten state jobs that might not be easily replaced by installing or maintaining community solar gardens. Let the solar garden exemption expire and the market decide.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-168

SB20-189 Local Government Pesticide No Preemption (Fenberg (D)) [Cutter (D), Duran (D)]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None at state level

Goal: Allow local governments to regulate pesticide usage for non-marijuana or agricultural production uses, so long as their regulations meet state and federal law requirements.

Description:

Allows local governments to regulate pesticide usage for non-marijuana or agricultural production uses, so long as their regulations meet state and federal law requirements. These must be grounded in science and in the interest of public health, public safety, and environmental protection. State courts have exclusive jurisdiction to review any local pesticide regulations.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Pesticides can be dangerous to wildlife and to humans. We of course regulate them on the state level but residents and local governments are best situated to decide how these chemicals should be used in their communities. This actually used to be how the state operated until 2005, when changes made during the sunset review process of the overall regulation of pesticides removed this local ability despite the fact that the previous review in 1995 found no significant burdens deriving from these local regulations. At the time the department of regulatory agencies claimed this was necessary to establish statewide primary enforcement authority to conform with the EPA. But there are multiple other states in the country that still allow local regulation of pesticide use with apparently no issues with the EPA. This bill allows local regulations while keeping state judicial review supremacy, which should satisfy that issue while allowing local communities to decide what is best when it comes to non-agricultural or marijuana (both issues of statewide importance) use.

Arguments Against:

Patchwork regulations in the state make it more difficult for businesses to operate, as they have to keep track of what is allowed where, which tends to increase costs. This program will come up again for sunset review in 2024, we can wait until then to get a thorough understanding of if allowing local regulations again would cause problems with the EPA.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-189

SB20-190 Boost Renewable Energy Transmission Investment (Hansen (D))

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Not yet released

Goal: Require public utilities commission to approve any transmission facility project that would help the state achieve its clean energy goals, study the energy transmission needs of the state, in particular as it regards new renewable energy sources, and require evaluation of costs associated with clean energy project bids without consideration of cost of planned transmission lines.

Description:

Requires the commission to approve a utility’s application for construction of new electricity transmission facilities if it help the state achieve its clean energy goals (already needed to approve if it is required to reliably transmit electricity or enables the utility to meet state renewable energy standards). If the commission does not issue a final order within 180 of the application being deemed complete the project is automatically approved.

Directs the public utilities commission to study existing and potential additional energy resource zones for renewable resource generational development areas and planned power lines. This must include at least three public meetings, one must be in an identified renewable resource zone and one must be in a fossil fuel community. Commission must develop a map of existing generation and transmission lines, planned transmission lines, and potential renewable resource generation development areas. This must include areas in fossil fuel communities to support energy sector transitions. Must also identify opportunities for: energy storage and non-renewable zero emission sources, and exporting energy from renewable resources outside of the state. Must evaluate: potential use of enterprise zones to help develop renewable resource generation, transmission needs in renewable resource generation areas to get the electricity to customers, potential congestion points, if self-provision of transmission projects results in most economical results for customers, and other resources that could support the state’s carbon emission reduction goals. Report due by end of year.

Allows bidders to submit as part of any procurement process for an approved clean energy resource plan proposals for resources that rely on a point of interconnection to planned transmission lines outside of the submitted plan. Electric resource plans must be evaluated separately from cost of any planned transmission lines which the project plans to interconnect to.

Additional Information:

Removes references to energy imbalance markets, power pools, and joint tariffs as elements for the commission to consider when reviewing proposals. Commission is to use its existing mandate to explore regional transmission organizations to do the study required by this bill.

If the commission approves a planned transmission line as part of a plan, the utility must ask the commission for a certificate of public convenience and necessity within six months. Commission must require the line be constructed in a manner that accommodates anticipated in-service date of resources that will be connected to it. Lines can be built in stages.

If a line is approved in a regional transmission plan and an incumbent utility owns the existing facilities the line will connect to, that incumbent has 180 to give notice to the commission that it will construct and maintain the line. The incumbent then has two years to file for the certificate required to construct the line.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

One of the issues with switching to renewable resource generation is transmission. We need to get the energy from the places we are producing to end-consumers all over the state. We also want to promote a reliable and integrated energy grid rather than inefficient radial transmission. This bill addresses this through both study and increased ability for the public utilities commission to rely on future interconnected transmission points when considering resource plans. This bill also gives the commission more flexibility to approve plans specifically because they will reduce our carbon emissions. We have set ambitious carbon emission reduction targets in the state, because that is what is required in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Reports this winter indicate we are not even close to being on-track to make the reductions necessary to meet these goals, so part of what needs to be done is faster approval of projects that will help us get there, even if they do not meet other commission goals of distributing electricity or meeting utility renewable energy standards.

Arguments Against:

We should not be putting our thumbs on the scales of the energy market for renewable energy sources. Projects approved by the public utilities commission can increase the cost of energy for all Coloradans, as the costs of these projects usually get passed down to the consumers paying the electric bills. So when we put a 180 day limit on the time the commission can consider projects and force it to approve any project that would lower carbon emissions, we are probably increasing the electric bill for nearly everyone in the state. When we say that the commission cannot consider the cost of all of the transmission lines required to get a renewable energy generation source to end-users, we are saying that the potentially costly work of building these lines is irrelevant. More ways our electric bills could increase. The fact that the state may have set climate goals that are too ambitious is not a reason to foist all of this extra cost onto Coloradans.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB190

SB20-201 Species Conservation Trust Fund Projects (Donovan (D)) [Roberts (D)]

AMENDED: Significant

PASSED

Appropriation: $4 $1.5 million from species conservation trust fund
Fiscal Impact: None beyond appropriation

Goal: Appropriate $4 $1.5 million from the species conservation trust fund as requested by the department of natural resources.

Description:

Appropriates $4 $1.5 million from the species conservation trust fund as follows:

  • $1,107,505 $454,505 to native terrestrial wildlife conservation
  • $892,495 $295,495 to native aquatic wildlife conservation
  • $1,900,000 $670,000 to the Platte River recovery implementation program
  • $100,000 $80,000 to selenium management, research, monitoring, evaluation, and control

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This fund was created to fund programs designed to conserve native species that have been listed as threatened or endangered under state or federal law or that are candidate species or likely to become candidate species as determined by the federal government. The state prepares a list of programs they would like to get their annual funding for, and then the legislature must actually appropriate the funds. That is what this bill does.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB201

SB20-204 Additional Resources To Protect Air Quality (Fenberg (D)) [Jackson (D), Caraveo (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Appropriation: $10,660
Fiscal Impact: About $2.5 million each in year

Goal: Create a TABOR-exempt enterprise program to conduct air quality modeling, monitoring, assessment, data analysis, and research and report permit and enforcement data, health effects data, emission data, ambient air quality, visibility, meteorological sampling data, and mitigation project services to polluters all funded by fees on air polluters based on per-ton pollution and direct services provided (and bonds backed by those fees). Also raises a variety of fees on polluters from the air quality commission and removes the caps on these fees, allowing the commission to set future amounts by rule so as to cover costs.

Description:

Creates an enterprise program (which are exempt from TABOR revenue limits) to conduct air quality modeling, monitoring, assessment, data analysis, and research and report permit and enforcement data, health effects data, emission data, ambient air quality, visibility, meteorological sampling data, and mitigation project services to polluters. The goal of these efforts is to support tangible progress toward aiding polluters in reducing their emissions and meeting state air quality goals. Program is to prioritize enhanced monitoring projects to produce high-quality data, regular aerial surveys and observations, and assessing local exposures to and health impacts of nearby air toxics. Board must also provide trusted and cost-effective mitigation project services, high-quality research and development services regarding emissions rates and inventories, monitoring and control technologies, and health effects and emissions impacts. All data collected by the program must be made available to the state, including the air quality commission, and all fee payers. The program is directed to dedicate a meaningful portion of its annual revenues to competitive grants to conduct highly qualified, peer-reviewed research related to research priorities identified by the board.

The board of directors of the enterprise must chose projects to invest its money in, set fees by rule and collect them, issue bonds payable from its revenues, and engage services of third-party experts as needed. It is allowed to ignore the state procurement code, but must encourage diversity in bids and generally avoid using single-source bids. Board members get a $50 per day per diem for attending board meetings.

Fees set by the board include: a fee per ton of air pollution emitted annually by a stationary source, which can vary depend on how tough it is to research or mitigate the particular pollutant; fee for custom or additional services required for a location; and a fee for emission mitigation project services sought by a fee payer. General fund is to provide start-up funding for the board, this must be paid back with 3% interest by July 2023. Board can seek and accept gifts, grants, and donations.

Board must report annually to the legislature.

Bill removes the fee caps on air pollutant emission notices (was $119.13 and tied to inflation), on air pollution per ton (was $28.63 or $119.13 depending on pollutant type and tied to inflation), and non-air pollutant emission notice document evaluation (was $95.63 and tied to inflation). These are set at $218 $216, $33 $32, $218 $216, and $109 $108.12 per hour. The air quality commission is allowed to set future amounts by rule to cover the costs of administering the entire state air quality programs. The increases in fees directly attributable to this bill must be used to:

  • Ensure requirements imposed by rules to minimize emissions are included in permits and complied with
  • Deploying more resources to find and get repaired by oil and gas operators leaks and releases of dangerous pollutants
  • Increase compliance by oil and gas operators with all air quality requirements
  • Increase number of inspectors and enforcement actions by the state
  • Expand state’s capacity to conduct monitoring of oil and gas emissions
  • Develop new emission control strategies
  • Expand state’s ability to quickly respond to public health issues that are related to exposure to air toxics
  • Improve state’s complaint management systems

Additional Information:

Monitoring projects include placement of permanent monitoring stations using gas chromatography or proven, state-of-the-art technology to measure in real time or nearly so, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, ozone, methane, and particulates at key locations and within high emission regions. Aerial surveys and observations are to assist leak detection and repair, improve accuracy of emission inventories, and create a better understanding of regional emission profiles.

Board of enterprise program composed as follows:

  • Executive director of the department of public health and environment
  • Six members appointed by governor, including:
    • At least two members who are experts in atmospheric or air quality modeling, monitoring, assessment, and research
    • At least one member who is a toxicologist, epidemiologist, pathologist, pulmonologist, cardiologist, or expert in a similar field related to public health or environmental effects of air pollutants
    • At least one other member who is also professionally active or engaged in scientific research

To extend possible governor’s appointments should be individuals with a record of peer-reviewed publications and who are affiliated with, currently hold, or have held academic or equivalent appointments at universities, federal laboratories, or other research institutions. Board must meet at least quarterly.

Report to legislature must include summaries of:

  • The board’s prioritization of research needs
  • Modeling, monitoring, assessment, and research accomplished by the program
  • Program’s completed, ongoing, and planned emission mitigation services
  • Uses of the fund
  • Enterprise fees
  • Value of business services provided to fee payers through the program


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

One of the first things you have to get right if we are going to get a handle on our air pollution problem (for combatting climate change and increasing public health and welfare) is to accurately measure it. Unfortunately, we are not doing that right now. We learned last year that the state data on methane had inaccuracies, in part due to a lack of resources to both adequately measure in near real-time and to do effective quality control on samples. So we clearly need both more money for better testing and a panel of experts to guide the effort to ensure that the funds are spent. Setting up the panel of experts as an enterprise program allows us to do several things. First, it allows for issuing bonds against the collected fees, which is a force multiplier on the revenues generated by the program. Second, it allows for us to provide mitigation expertise to polluters to help them reduce their pollution, which in turn can lower their long-term costs (if done right) and legal exposure from incidents. Third, it allows for greater economies of scale and for us to conduct mitigation and monitoring programs. And finally, it provides a trusted, third-party source of hard data. For the air quality commission fees, in addition to the hard data provided by the enterprise fund, we simply need more funds for the air quality commission so it can do its oversight and regulatory job. Just the Suncor plant in Commerce City has had two major incidents in the past year (and has a checkered history of many more in the past). We need to do better in finding these potential problems sooner. We have a long way to go in our efforts to improve our air quality. We aren’t going to get anywhere if we cannot accurately measure what we are doing and if we cannot fully enforce our already existing rules and regulations.

Arguments Against:

This bill sets out a positive goal: better data on our air quality so we know where we actually are, but then double-dips in trying to achieve it by bringing in other issues around regulation enforcement. We don’t need both an enterprise program and increased fees to the air quality commission. One or other of these can accomplish our goals. Remember that the fees set by the enterprise program are in addition to the already existing fees set by the air quality commission (who we also should not be giving carte blanche to set fees at whatever levels they want). If the enterprise program solves all of these problems in a good way and also provides help for businesses, then great. Just do that. If we think that the air quality commission can handle this if they are just given more resources, then great. Just do that. But don’t do both. And keep the control of fees in the hands of the people’s representatives rather than unelected officials. Because the way the bill is constructed the air quality commission could really justify just about any fee increase. There is not a real hard ceiling on the amount of detection, inspection, and mitigation work the state could do on air pollutant sources.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB204

SB20-218 CDPHE Colorado Department Of Public Health And Environment Hazardous Substances Response (Fenberg (D), Lee (D))

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Appropriation: $1.6 million
Fiscal Impact: Nearly net neutral, estimated $7.5 million raised per year in fees at full implementation

Goal: Create a grant program and takeback program to help fight perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which is funded by a fee on fuel transportation, part of which also goes to administer hazardous waste on our roads.

Description:

Creates the perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) grant program and PFAS takeback program. Grants are for sampling, assessment, and investigation of PFAS in ground or surface water; funding water system infrastructure to treat PFAS; and providing emergency assistance to communities and water systems affected by PFAS. The bill leaves it up to the state to develop rules around what is required in a grant request, what entities are eligible for grants, the criteria for accepting grants, and the timeframe for grant application. All grantees must report annually to the state on their progress. The takeback program allows the state to takeback PFAS substances in exchange for money. The state is to determine what PFAS materials are eligible, what the purchase prices will be, how the materials should be properly disposed of, and the method of applying. State must report every year to the legislature on both of these programs.

These are funded by a new fee a $25 fee per truckload of fuel products delivered for sale or use in Colorado. Aviation fuel and fuel used to odorize liquefied petroleum and natural gas is exempt. In the first year, 50% of the revenue from this fee goes to the PFAS fund for the grant and takeback program and also for providing technical assistance in locating and studying PFAS to communities, stakeholders, and regulator boards. This can include guidance and recommendations for PFAS standards, health risk assessments, and safe disposal methods. 25% of the fee revenue goes to the department of transportation to support function relating to the administration of hazardous freight material movement in the state and infrastructure projects that enhance the safety of moving hazardous material. The remaining 25% go to the state patrol to support regulation of hazardous materials on the roads. After that $100,000 goes to the state patrol and then 75% of what is left to PFAS and 25% to department of transportation. If the PFAS cash fund has $8 million in it, the state must stop collecting the fee until the balance goes below $8 million.

The bill also creates new civil penalties of not more than $15,000 per day for owners or operators of storage tanks at gas stations who violate requirements to maintain a vapor collection system. Those who violate requirements to maintain records are subject to no more than $5,000 for the first violation, $10,000 for the second, and $15,000 for each subsequent violation.

Additional Information:

Report to legislature must include: amount of unobligated funds, number of grant applicants and number of grants awarded, grantee information including what they have done with the money, amount of eligible materials purchased and properly disposed of, any newly located PFAS sites, and any suggested policy or legislative changes.


Auto-Repeal: September 2027 for the fee

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. 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. They are also found in nonstick cookware, water-repellent clothing, and stain resistant fabrics. We need more resources in our state to get these dangerous chemicals out of places where they can cause great damage to our state and our citizens. Since the transport of hazardous material like fuel is a burden on the state’s infrastructure, it makes sense to fund this program (as well as provide extra support for the agencies that have to deal with hazardous materials transport) on fuel transport. Spread out over all of the fuel transportation companies it will not be an unreasonable burden on their operating costs.

Arguments Against:

This fee is too unrelated to the underlying subject. We should not be charging gas transportation vehicles in order to get a handle on PFAS, even if it is sometimes used in firefighting. This is obviously a dangerous chemical we need to get a better handle on but we should not be doing on the backs on the oil and gas industry.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-218