Working to keep the West special

Climate Action in Colorado

RMCO works to bring about climate action in Colorado--both actions to reduce emissions of heat-trapping pollution and to prepare for the challenges we face as the climate changes.

Many of our efforts are part of our continued work to win adoption and implementation of the recommendations of the stakeholder panel we convened as part of our 2005-2007 Colorado Climate Project (see the next page).

Our current efforts include the following.

Colorado Emissions Inventory

In personal conversations with Governor John Hickenlooper and his staff, RMCO has played an important role in persuading them to undertake a new inventory of Colorado's statewide emissions of heat-trapping pollution. Colorado's first such inventory was done in 2007 (see the next page), and under the climate action plan adopted by Gov. Bill Ritter, Jr., was to have been updated in 2012. When Gov. Hickenlooper delivered a keynote address in December 2012 to the third annual conference of the Colorado Climate Network (administered by RMCO), he announced his support for an update to the inventory, and followed that with a meeting with officials from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment at which he instructed them to prepare the new inventory.

CDPHE is now working on the emissions inventory, and a draft should be released soon. RMCO expects, from preliminary information that we have seen, that the inventory will show that much work still must be done to meet the state government's goals of reducing emissions 20 percent by 2020, compared to 2005 levels (see the next page). Understanding how much more needs to be done, and what progress has been and is still needed on a sector-by-sector basis, is exactly why the updated inventory is so important.

Colorado Climate Vulnerability

RMCO also has played a leading role in persuading the Hickenlooper administration to undertake a comprehensive scientific assessment of the state's vulnerabilities to climate change, one of the 70 actions recommended in the report of the stakeholder panel that RMCO convened in our 2005-2007 Colorado Climate Project. Many states have prepared vulnerability assessments, used to guide preparedness planning by state and local governments and others. In our conversations with Governor Hickenlooper and his staff, we made the point that Colorado has unique risks that should be assessed by some of the many experts in this state on climate change and its impacts.

The Colorado Energy Office has now commissioned a climate change vulnerability assessment by the University of Colorado's Western Water Assessment and Colorado State University's North Central Climate Science Center, the two entities that RMCO brought together to develop the proposal that the state government has funded. The vulnerability assessment is currently expected to be completed in early 2014.

When a draft of the assessment is released, RMCO will work, on our own and together with our partner organizations, to review and comment on the draft to ensure that it provides the information that is needed to help the state government and the state's citizens and organizations prepare for and manage the risks that we face as human-caused climate change continues.

Along with a vulnerability assessment, state government actions are also needed to develop and carry out plans to prepare for addressing those impacts. Needed are both an overall statewide preparedness plan, developed by the state government with structured stakeholder input, and detailed incorporation of climate change impacts and preparedness actions into specific state agency planning efforts.

Emissions Reductions

Of course, the most important type of climate action is to reduce the extent to which we humans are changing the climate. That is why, of the 70 climate actions recommended by the stakeholder panel RMCO convened in our Colorado Climate Project, 55 were focused on emission reductions, compared to 15 on adaptation.

The newest front in the effort to reduce emissions in Colorado is being considered by the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission, which is considering the first proposal in the nation to directly regulate emissions of methane, a highly potent climate-changing pollution, from the many natural gas operations in the state. Natural gas is methane, and stopping leaks from natural gas production and transmission is one of the most important ways we can reduce Colorado's contribution to climate change. RMCO applauds the Hickenlooper administration for undertaking the nation's first direction regulation of methane from oil and gas operations, and we have testified in support of reasonable, effective state regulations.

Much of our work for emission reductions is focused on the Colorado General Assembly. In its 2010 legislative session, for example, RMCO played a key role in helping to win enactment of legislation carrying out much of one of our panel's key recommendations: a 50% strengthening of the state's "renewable portfolio standard," or RPS, which mandates how much clean energy the state's utilities must use in generating electricity. Our panel recommended that the RPS be strengthened for all utilities -- investor-owned, municipally-owned, and rural cooperatives. The 2010 legislation we supported made that change for investor-owned utilities, principally Xcel Energy, which produces most of the electricity in the state. RMCO's work for that legislation included engaging with our partners and those who participated in our Climate Action Panel, testifying in legislative hearings, and directly contacting legislators. Examples of our work include RMCO's testimony, and an RMCO news release on the passage of the bill.

In 2013, RMCO supported and helped to win passage of other legislation that strengthened the clean energy requirements for municipal utilities and coops, which had not been addressed in the 2010 legislation. We also supported separate legislation creating a state government position on climate change and requiring annual reports to the legislature on emissions reductions, vulnerabilities to climate change, and preparedness actions. Altogether, in 2013 RMCO tracked and reported to representatives of RMCO partners and Colorado Climate Network members on 15 bills that either implemented or would have interfered with provisions of the state Climate Action Agenda or our panel's recommendations. Our final legislative update on the 2013 session is here.

Additional RMCO work for state action includes our efforts before the Colorado Public Utility Commission and executive agencies. See the webpage on RMCO's Statements for postings on some of that work.

Colorado Scorecard

RMCO monitors what is being done to carry out both the state's official climate action plan and the recommendations of RMCO's stakeholder panel in our Colorado Climate Project. Our Colorado Climate Scorecard shows the implementation status of those promised or recommended actions.