Gov. Hickenlooper announces Colorado Climate Plan

Patrick Kelly

Amidst the maelstrom of federal regulations seeking to curtail carbon dioxide emissions, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced Colorado’s first Clean Climate Plan on Wednesday.

The plan helps fulfill the state’s requirements under President Barrack Obama’s Clean Power Plan but mainly satisfies a state law passed in 2013 requiring the governor’s office to provide periodic updates on the state’s efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

“We’re very much on the ball with this, I think we’ve been ahead of the curve with some of the things we’ve done in Colorado,” said Will Allison, director of the Department of Public Health and Environment’s Division of Air Pollution Control.

However, Allison said Colorado still has work to do to meet the requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

In Moffat County, energy development — mainly coal but with a respectable amount of oil and gas activity — dominates the local economy and any ripple in the pond feels like a Tsunami warning for locals.

Craig Station, Colorado’s second-largest coal fired power plant, provides 7 percent of the jobs in Moffat County, generates 17 percent of wages in the county and accounts for just under 20 percent of the county’s tax base, according to Yampa Valley Data Partners.

Lee Boughey, spokesman for Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, the company responsible for operating Crag Station, said Tri-State remains focused on working with all the states it operates in to develop plans that satisfy the Clean Power Plan while protecting affordability and reliability for energy consumers.

Xcel Energy, the owner of Hayden Generating Station, was involved in the construction of the plan and is confident in its ability to comply.

“Xcel Energy is going to meet and surpass the deadline for the state’s Renewable Energy Standard; we will achieve 30 percent renewables several years before the 2020 goal.” Mark Stutz, senior media representatives for Xcel, wrote in an email. “We also have a very robust demand-side management program of about 400 gigawatt-hours of reduction a year, which involves our resource planning area and is incorporated into the Clean Power Plan. Finally, we have a long and distinguished track record of managing our water rights, several of which are senior in the state, to the benefit of many constituencies, including agricultural and recreational interests.”

The state outlines the key areas of focus in the plan:

Water: Promote and encourage drought preparedness through comprehensive drought planning mitigation implementation; incorporate climate variability and change into Colorado’s Water Plan.

Public Health: Coordinate with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Public Utilities Commission, the Colorado Energy Office, and additional stakeholders to develop and implement a Colorado-specific plan to substantially reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel fired EGUs, in accordance with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan; continue to assess potential correlations between vector-borne diseases and climate factors.

Energy: Assure the timely and complete attainment of the state’s RES 2020 goals; assist all utilities (investor-owned, municipal, and cooperative) in identifying and implementing best practices for integrating cost-effective renewable resources, both utility-scale and distributed; increase access to capital for commercial, residential, agricultural, and industrial customers seeking to improve the energy performance of their facilities.

Transportation: Promote and encourage fuel-efficient vehicle technologies and programs to reduce vehicle emissions; provide guidance to local governments on land use planning strategies to promote efficient use of public resources and reduce GHG emissions through compact, transit-oriented development that utilizes smart growth practices and complete streets.

Agriculture: Partner with research institutions and federal agencies to support producer’s efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change through improved irrigation and efficiency and enhanced tillage practices.

Reach Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or Follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.

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