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April 29, 2024

JOINT RELEASE: Governor, Democratic Leadership and Ozone Bill Sponsors Announce Agreement to Address Air Quality and Boost Transit

DENVER, CO – Governor Jared Polis, Democratic Legislative Leadership, lawmakers from both chambers, and a broad coalition of major environmental NGOs today announced an agreement with large operators in Colorado’s oil and gas industry on a new legislative package that makes near-term progress on air quality, ozone, and climate goals while focusing on an economy-wide transition that will support Colorado’s future for generations to come.

"Forging consensus on an issue like this is hard, which is what makes today's announcement all the more exciting," Senate President Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, said. "This agreement represents Coloradans of all stripes coming together to put the needs of our state and our community first. It's taken a lot of hard work to get to this point, and I am grateful to everyone, especially the members of my caucus who have come to the table willing to work and, more importantly, listen to each other in the pursuit of an agreement we can all get behind. I am incredibly excited to see the benefits today’s announcement will bring to both our air quality and our transit system for generations to come."

“I appreciate the leadership of Governor Polis and all the parties who worked tirelessly to bring people together, achieve this consensus agreement and move forward the ‘Colorado Way,” said Speaker Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon. “Hearing and respecting diverse voices is critical to making lasting policy, and I believe that’s what we’ve accomplished with this agreement. I’m proud that groups with different goals and interests came to the table and reached consensus on a landmark agreement that will improve our air quality, boost transit options and protect our Colorado way of life for future generations.”

This agreement between major oil and gas producers, a coalition of environmental nonprofit organizations, Governor Polis, and legislative leaders also calls for a focus on implementation of regulatory measures rather than competing ballot measures. This will give the state time to implement the new, agreed-upon policies and make the investments needed to put Colorado on a path to achieve the state’s climate goals.

The legislative package will create more permitting and enforcement authority for the state to reduce emissions, improve air quality, and reduce pollution in Colorado communities. It will also generate significant new funding for transit and rail, as well as land and wildlife habitat conservation and restoration, from modest fees placed on oil and gas production in Colorado.

The agreement is supported by Conservation Colorado, Earthjustice, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, GreenLatinos, and major oil and gas operators Chevron, Occidental, and Civitas.

“Colorado is at a turning point; we have to do more to improve our air quality and ensure that every Coloradan can live without fearing the dangerous consequences of ozone pollution, and that’s what this package does,” said House Assistant Majority Leader Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver. “We are coming together for Coloradans to do the right thing and address the longstanding impacts of pollution on Disproportionately Impacted Communities, which are predominantly lower-income Coloradans and people of color. It’s not easy to come to consensus, and I’m grateful to the parties on all sides for coming to the table and demonstrating the leadership needed to move Colorado forward.”

“Exposure to dangerously unhealthy ozone levels is an unfortunately common occurrence in our state, and it's impacting far too many Coloradans' health, leading to higher risk of shortness of breath, asthma attacks, increased risk for respiratory diseases, and lower birth weights for children born in high-ozone areas," said Senate Assistant Majority Leader Faith Winter, D-Broomfield. “While Colorado has worked hard to address the ozone problem, we need to do even more to reduce harmful emissions and keep our communities safe. Today’s agreement is a great first step, and is particularly exciting because of how it came together: through real, honest discussion towards a shared goal. It’ll help get our air quality crisis under control, and create a healthier future for our kids and our grandkids."

“Finding common ground can be challenging, but with this agreement, industry and environmental groups have worked hard to bridge gaps, come to consensus, and put Colorado first,” said Rep. Jenny Willford, D-Northglenn. “This agreement, which allows time for meaningful legislation to take effect, will provide a clear timeline to implement new pollution reduction measures and put Colorado on a path to achieve our climate goals. I appreciate the hard conversations and collaboration that went into this agreement, and I’m excited to make meaningful progress that cracks down on repeat violators, improves air quality and supports future generations of Coloradans for years to come.”  

“Communities across our state, and especially like those I represent on the Front Range, have been forced to bear the consequences of unhealthy ozone levels for far too long, which is why I am so excited to be a part of this landmark agreement,” said Senator Kevin Priola, D-Henderson. “We must take action now to improve our air quality and mitigate the harmful impacts of ozone on our communities. Today’s agreement is a critical step towards reducing emissions and air pollution that puts Colorado on a path to securing a healthier future for us all."

“Under this agreement, Colorado will soon see significant new funding for rail and other critical transit efforts that will save Coloradans money, make it easier for people to get where they need to go, and reduce harmful emissions that lead to poor air quality,” said Rep. Meg Froelich, D- Englewood. “This legislative package will help reduce traffic by increasing transit options, support new housing construction, and improve the quality of life for people across our state while investing in habitat conservation, increasing state wildlife areas, and restoring important lands and native species.”

“Our geography in Colorado – and especially along the Front Range – makes us uniquely susceptible to unhealthy ozone levels and poor air quality,” said Senator Lisa Cutter, D-Jefferson County. “This results in short and long term health impacts that affect entire communities. We’ve worked hard on policies to improve our air quality, especially during months where ozone levels are the worst. This agreement gives us the opportunity to take significant action that will reduce air pollution, protect Colorado’s environment, and build a healthier Colorado.”

“The impacts of climate change disproportionately impact communities like mine, which is why it is so important that we come together to make lasting changes that will stand the test of time,” said Rep. Elizabeth Velasco, D-Glenwood Springs. “From floods to wildfires, extreme climate events are devastating communities across our state. It’s not always easy, but coming together, like we have with this agreement, will protect our environment and paves the way for a future we can be proud of.”

I’ve long worked to advance environmental justice and protect communities from the impacts of our changing climate, and I’m excited by the progress we’ve made with this agreement,” said Rep. Manny Rutinel, D-Commerce City. “It’s not often that people with different perspectives and goals come together like this, and it’s something we should celebrate. This agreement will lead to increased transit options, reduced ozone emissions, and healthier communities, especially for the Coloradans who have far too often faced the brunt of the consequences from our changing climate and industrial pollution.”

“I support moving forward with this critical agreement because bringing together and finding consensus among competing sides of this issue will help us make immediate progress on addressing poor air quality on the Front Range and creating new transit options for Coloradans,” said Rep. Cathy Kipp, D- Fort Collins.  “We’ve made a lot of progress in recent years, and while there is still considerable work to do, I recognize that this consensus agreement represents the best chance we have to make meaningful change that protects our environment and fosters the healthy communities Coloradans deserve.”

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