Landmark Environmental Justice Legislation Signed

DENVER, CO– Governor Polis today signed HB21-1266, Representatives Dominique Jackson and Mike Weissman’s bill to promote environmental justice in Colorado and help our state meet our emissions reduction goals.

“Environmental Justice means making sure that our solutions to tackling climate change acknowledge and address the systemic disparities of years of pollution and the impacts of climate change,” said Representative Dominique Jackson, D-Aurora. “This new law takes concrete steps to help us improve air quality and meet our emissions reductions goals while giving disproportionately impacted communities a seat at the table where these decisions are being made. With these new steps, Colorado will set an example for the nation on how best to address pollution and climate change in a holistic and just way.” 

“Today marks an important step toward guaranteeing true environmental justice in Colorado,” said Representative Mike Weissman, D-Aurora. “Communities of color, low income Coloradans and other groups uniquely affected by pollution and the effects of climate change deserve to have their voices heard and their needs met as we work toward cleaner air and a greener state. I’m enormously proud of and grateful for the tireless advocacy and hard work that was required to make this new law a reality.” 

HB21-1266 supports communities that have been disproportionately impacted by pollution by creating the Environmental Justice Advisory Board and Ombudsperson within the Department of Public Health and Environment. The law eliminates the “polluter pay loophole” that exempts greenhouse gas emissions from pollution fees, and directs the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) to update permitting requirements for sources that affect disproportionately impacted communities, and requires electric utilities to file clean energy plans with the Public Utilities Commission. 

Utilities with significant emissions are required to reduce emissions at least 80% by 2030, the oil and gas sector is required to reduce emissions by 36% by 2025 and 60% by 2030 and the industrial and manufacturing sectors are required to reduce emissions by at least 20% by 2030. The law also codifies outreach best practices to impacted communities and requires the development of a comprehensive, statewide environmental justice plan. 

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