Bernett Bills to Address Climate Change Pass Legislature

DENVER, CO — The House and Senate have passed two bills sponsored by Representative Tracey Bernett that address climate change by reducing the use of fossil fuels and by measuring the climate impact and social cost of building materials used in large public infrastructure projects. 

“There are so many innovative ways that Colorado can begin to meet our climate goals, and I’m proud that two of the bills I sponsored this session to reduce the use of fossil fuels and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions have passed the House,” said Rep. Tracey Bernett, D-Longmont. “This is the first time that Colorado is going to look at the social cost of methane emissions and the global warming potential of the building materials we use in public infrastructure projects. We can use less of the fossil fuels that cause climate change by encouraging smart demand-side management programs and by being thoughtful about the building materials Colorado purchases for large public projects.”

HB21-1303, also known as the “Buy Clean Colorado Act,” requires state agencies to look at public infrastructure projects and how the state can encourage the use of certain materials that are manufactured in a way that releases fewer greenhouse gas emissions.. Agencies can help address the climate crisis and meet the state’s climate goals by reducing industrial carbon emissions from the manufacturing of building materials. Under the bill, state departments would accept and evaluate Environmental Product Declaration information from contractors when materials are specified in bids, and  define  policies that prioritize purchasing the cleanest materials available. The bill has passed both chambers of the legislature. 

By selecting materials that are manufactured with lower Global Warming Potential (GWP), state agencies will reduce the state’s overall greenhouse gas emissions, helping meet Colorado’s greenhouse gas reduction goals. This encourages use of recycled materials, lower GWP emissions materials and manufacturing processes, use of renewable energy, and use of low emissions fuels. By selecting more environmentally friendly materials, Colorado can reduce smog, toxic emissions, particular matter, and greenhouse gasses released into our atmosphere, and reduce respiratory and other public health issues. Colorado is home to some of the greenest cement and steel manufacturers in the country.

HB21-1238 directs the PUC to establish energy savings targets for natural gas utilities, promoting the adoption of more energy efficient as well as clean heat technologies to   help the state meet our GHG reduction goals. The bill modernizes the standards for demand-side-management (DSM) programs for natural gas utilities by helping utilities more effectively manage the energy consumption of their customers. One of the calculations the PUC will use in evaluating these programs is to count the avoided costs to ratepayers resulting from the reduced consumption of natural gas, also known as the social cost of carbon dioxide and methane. The bill also encourages the adoption of new  (keep) technologies, requires investment in weatherization programs for low-income customers and promotes the use of onsite renewables for everyday uses, like heat pumps. As a result of these new programs, not only will customers realize greater savings on their utility bills, but we will also see more significant reductions in our carbon dioxide and methane emissions thereby helping the state meet our climate goals.  The bill has passed both chambers and will be sent to the governor shortly.

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