By Dan Elliott, Associated Press
DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s Democratic governor may ask for a one-third cut in greenhouse gas pollution from power plants, even though the federal Clean Power Plan is stalled and Republicans in the state are resisting.
Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office has drafted a proposed executive order directing state agencies to work on ways to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power generators by 35 percent by 2030 compared with 2012 levels.
“We have a very rough outline that we are in the process of vetting for input and discussion,” Hickenlooper spokeswoman Kathy Green said in an email to The Associated Press on Tuesday. “No decisions have been made.”
She didn’t say who was involved in the discussions.
The proposal says increasing temperatures and violent weather related to global warming are a threat to Colorado’s economy, including agriculture, skiing and summer recreation.
The proposal directs state agencies to work with utilities to get the biggest possible pollution cuts while keeping energy affordable to consumers. It doesn’t say whether or how the state would try to enforce the goals if power companies balk.
The draft order sets an interim goal of reducing carbon dioxide by 25 percent by 2025.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan sets similar targets for Colorado, as well as individual targets for other states, but the Supreme Court put that plan on hold pending the outcome of lawsuits challenging the rules.
GOP lawmakers in the Colorado Legislature want Hickenlooper to wait for federal courts to settle the lawsuits before pushing ahead with a state plan. Last spring, they attempted to cut $8 million from Colorado’s air quality enforcement unit, potentially costing 95 jobs, to stop the work.
In a compromise, lawmakers cut nearly $112,000 from the agency’s budget request, but no jobs were eliminated, allowing the work to continue.
State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, a Republican from Sterling, said Tuesday that Hickenlooper was defying the Legislature and the courts with the proposed order.
“Gov. Hickenlooper seems poised to steal a page from the Obama playbook by using executive authority to push through radical climate ideas that he can’t get approved through the democratic process, which means they’re probably too out of the mainstream for Colorado,” he said.
“Checks and balances exist for good reason and Gov. Hickenlooper ought to respect them,” Sonnenberg said in a written statement.
Pete Maysmith, executive director of Conservation Colorado, welcomed the proposal.
“We wholeheartedly endorse the idea of more action to address carbon pollution in Colorado, a state that’s on the front lines of climate change,” he said.