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Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signs climate bill into law — with an emissions caveat

Pfizer

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed the Democrats’ climate compromise into law Friday, tacking on an executive order that restricts how the state will reach its goals of reducing emissions.

HB21-1266 includes portions of SB21-200, which Polis had threatened to veto if passed before Democrats dropped it.

The new law, set to take effect immediately, is focused on environmental justice — that is, addressing pollution in disproportionately impacted communities (including creating a state ombudsperson and an advisory board).

It also sets up enforcement of emissions reductions in the energy and industrial sectors, which Polis said Friday in his executive order builds upon his Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap for emissions targets.

In 2019, the Legislature passed several bills related to establish climate goals, including a reduction in greenhouse gas pollution, ahead of his roadmap. A May 2021 report showed Colorado could fall short of reaching its goals.

“This bill is the next step to ensure that we are putting the resources and efforts into meeting those goals, while also ensuring that we are centering the voices of disproportionately impacted communities,” said bill sponsor Sen. Faith Winter, a Westminster Democrat.

Polis did have a caveat in signing the bill, saying in the executive order that he doesn’t support any type of economy-wide “cap-and-trade, a policy that’s meant to incentivize lower emissions while still letting companies that reach the cap to buy allowances to go over.

Winter said Colorado can still meet its goals without cap-and-trade and believes Colorado’s legislation will serve as a national model, though she said more should be done, especially in the transportation sector.

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