Colorado may take center stage in climate change debate

Dec 14, 2016

Credit American Wind Energy Association

Colorado could take center stage on the topic of climate change under a Donald Trump Environmental Protection Agency.

As the Denver Post reports, under President Barack Obama, states were expected to take actions that reduced greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming, and under President-elect Donald Trump, the decision about how to deal, or not to deal, with climate change could put states like Colorado and its energy sector in the center of the national debate over environmental regulations.

Environmentalists see Trump’s recent selection of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a known ally to the fossil fuel industry, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, as a national threat to policies geared to address climate change and are therefore pushing for state and local policies to help mitigate any losses that might be felt going forward, while energy industry leaders say they are emboldened by Trump’s chouce.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, who said that climate change is hurting Colorado’s economy, issued a draft order to cut power plant emissions by 35 percent by 2030,  according to the Denver Post, that drew opposition from Republicans who called on Hickenlooper to wait for federal guidance and from Democrats, who said the measure didn’t do enough.

At the same time, many see passage of a constitutional amendment that makes it difficult to get future constitutional amendments on the Colorado ballot as a victory for the state’s oil and gas industry, which pushed passage of the amendment in response to an unsuccessful campaign to ban fracking, as reported by the Denver Post.

This means that groups opposed to fracking and drilling have fewer options in fighting it, aside from working through a legislature that the Denver Post reports, is very much split, meaning the debate on climate change is likely to be a hot topic, with Colorado right in the middle.