DENVER, CO – The House today passed two bipartisan bills that will improve air quality and increase access to alternative modes of transportation.
Air Quality Improvements: SB22-193, sponsored by Representatives Meg Froelich and Alex Valdez, would provide funding for several different programs in the transportation and industrial sectors, as well as the Department of Public Health and Environment, to reduce emissions and improve Colorado’s air quality. The bill includes record investments in clean transportation initiatives and air quality monitoring and incentives. The bill passed 41-24.
“Poor air quality along the Front Range has become intolerable, and it’s leading to negative health outcomes, especially for children,” said Rep. Alex Valdez, D-Denver. “This legislature is making the single largest investment in our state’s history to improve our air quality, reduce harmful emissions and build a healthier Colorado.”
“We’ve made addressing poor air quality one of our top priorities this session, and I’m proud to see the House pass this robust package of bills that will help make it easier for Coloradans to breathe all along the front range,” said Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Englewood. “This $111 million investment will create cleaner commuting options and help private entities and local governments finance projects that reduce industrial emissions.”
SB22-193 will invest $111.25 million to improve Colorado’s air quality. This includes:
$65 million for the Electrifying School Buses Grant Program to help school districts and charter schools convert and replace fossil-fuel reliant school buses with electric-powered school buses.
$25 million for the Industrial and Manufacturing Operations Clean Air Grant Program to help private entities, local governments, and public-private partnerships finance projects to reduce industrial emissions through different technologies such as beneficial electrification, renewable energy projects, and methane capture.
$12 million for the Community Access to Electric Bicycles Grant and Rebate programs which will ease and accelerate the adoption of electric bicycles by providing businesses, local governments, and individuals discounted e-bikes and easier access to e-bike sharing programs.
$7 million for increased and expanded aerial surveying and localized monitoring to help identify leaks at oil and gas facilities.
$1.5 million for financing and incentives for cannabis producers to reduce their energy and water use.
$750,000 for increasing access to transit for state employees.
Protecting Communities from Contamination from Orphan Wells: SB22-198, sponsored by Representatives Mike Weissman and Perry Will, aims to reduce methane emissions from abandoned, unmaintained oil and gas wells by creating a sustainable funding mechanism to plug, remediate, and reclaim orphan wells. The bill passed 45-20.
“Oil and gas wells that have been abandoned are a significant contributor to harmful methane emissions and are a liability for taxpayers,” said Rep. Mike Weissman, D-Aurora. “This bipartisan bill will address environmental and public health concerns from orphaned oil and gas wells and ensure that operators pay their fair share to clean up abandoned wells so taxpayers aren’t left on the hook to deal with them or the health impacts they cause.”
Colorado has more than 200 orphaned wells and 500 orphaned sites, which leak methane and contribute to climate change. If passed, SB22-198 would create an enterprise within the Department of Natural Resources to fund, through annual per well fees paid by operators, the proper plugging and remediation of orphaned or abandoned wells. This bill works to complement the recent financial assurances rulemaking required in SB19-181.
Saving Consumers Money on Energy Efficiency Devices: SB22-051, sponsored by Representative Emily Sirota, would exempt certain decarbonizing building materials from state sales and use tax and allow a tax credit of 10 percent of the costs of installing energy efficient heat pump water or air cooling or heating systems. The bill passed 40-25.
“Energy efficiency devices like heat pumps reduce our use of dirty fuels and lower emissions, which will improve air quality and save Coloradans money,” said Rep. Emily Sirota, D-Denver. “This bill will save families and businesses money when they install energy efficient heating and cooling systems, which in turn will also save them money on energy costs.”