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August 4, 2023

Laws to Reduce Emissions, Bolster Environmental Programs & Mitigate Wildfires to Take Effect

DENVER, CO – New laws to set updated emission reduction goals, bolster environmental programs, and help mitigate and recover from wildfires will take effect on August 7.

SB23-016, sponsored by Senator Chris Hansen, D-Denver, and Representatives Emily Sirota, D-Denver, and Karen McCormick, D-Longmont, updates Colorado’s greenhouse gas emission reduction goals to match the latest climate science by adding interim targets, including a 65 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions relative to 2005 levels by 2035, and a new goal of 100 percent emissions reduction by 2050.

“As the effects of climate change become more and more pronounced, it is clear we must implement bold policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the impacts on our climate and our environment,” Hansen said. “Coloradans are demanding we act, and with the implementation of this legislation, we will be demonstrating national leadership to tackle the climate challenge. The new statute will empower businesses, homeowners, and state and local governments to reduce emissions, set reasonable and attainable goals, and put our state on a path to climate sustainability for generations to come.”

“This new law works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions statewide and speeds up our transition to a clean energy economy,” said Sirota. “By reducing emissions, we’ll better protect our families and children for generations to come.” 

“Every Coloradan deserves clean air and a livable climate, which is why we’re working to reduce harmful emissions and conserve our freshwater resources,” said McCormick, sponsor of SB23-016 and SB23-178. “Our law creates interim targets to help Colorado reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and jumpstart clean energy implementation in our homes as well as businesses. We’re also reducing our water usage by making it easier for Coloradans living in HOAs to replace their water-intensive lawn with drought-tolerant landscaping.”

To help reach these targets, the law requires the PUC and local governments to consider and prioritize upgrades and additions to the state’s electric transmission infrastructure system, and ensures quicker connections to the grid for residential solar. Other provisions of the law, including a study on transmission capacity to pave the way for electrification across the state, requirements for climate risk disclosures for insurance companies and tax credits for electric lawn equipment, take effect at a later date.

SB23-178, sponsored by Sen. Jaquez Lewis, D-Longmont, and Reps. McCormick and Mandy Lindsay, D-Aurora, reduces barriers for Colorado homeowners in homeowners associations (HOAs) who wish to replace their lawns with water-wise landscaping.

Also sponsored by Sen. Perry Will, R-New Castle, SB23-178 promotes water-wise landscaping, emphasizing native plants that better sustain Colorado’s local ecosystems while requiring little or no irrigation. Many homeowners in HOAs want to replace their lawn and save water, but are deterred by obscure HOA approval processes. The bill streamlines this by requiring HOAs to select and pre-approve water-wise landscape designs for homeowners to choose from, as an alternative to getting HOA permission for their own design.

“As extreme weather events like wildfires and droughts become more frequent because of climate change, it’s important that we do everything we can to make private, commercial, and industrial properties more resilient,” said Jaquez Lewis, sponsor of HB23-1005 and SB23-178. “HB23-1005 expands and streamlines the successful C-PACE program, so more properties in Colorado can prepare for natural disasters while reducing their carbon footprint. Additionally, SB23-178 makes it easier for Colorado homeowners to replace their water-guzzling lawns with water-wise landscapes, allowing us to drastically cut down on overall water usage while maintaining beautiful, unique yards natural to Colorado's climate.”

“Until now, many Coloradans living in HOAs were not allowed to replace their water-intensive lawns with native drought-tolerant landscaping,” said Lindsay. “Under this new law, HOAs must allow for drought-tolerant landscaping options in their homeowner requirements – which is a win-win for water conservation and saving Coloradans money.” 

HB23-1005, sponsored by Sens. Jaquez Lewis, and Janice Marchman, D-Loveland, and Reps. Jenny Willford, D-Northglenn, and Brianna Titone, D-Arvada, helps protect Colorado's environment and conserve water resources by expanding project eligibility and streamlining the financing process so more commercial properties in Colorado can take advantage of the Colorado Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program for eco-friendly property upgrades and investments.

“This new law modernizes the successful C-PACE program so more businesses and builders can access financing to improve the resilience and efficiency of their commercial properties,” said Titone. “By expanding this favorable financing tool, more businesses can make eco-friendly infrastructure upgrades, such as high-efficiency lighting and HVAC systems.”

“We know many commercial building owners and developers want to make water and energy efficiency upgrades, and our bill makes the process easier so businesses can begin their energy efficiency improvements sooner,” said Marchman. “I’m proud to support measures that invest in eco-friendly infrastructure and improve Colorado’s sustainability for years to come.”

“It will soon be easier for commercial property owners in Colorado to improve the efficiency of their buildings,” said Willford. “Our law enhances and expands the widely-used, successful C-PACE program that’s catalyzed hundreds of millions of dollars of  commercial property upgrades to reduce their energy usage. As we push to meet our statewide climate goals, it is important our businesses have the tools they need to invest in eco-friendly, cost-saving infrastructure.”

HB23-1060, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Cutter, D-Jefferson County, and Rep. Tammy Story, D-Conifer, invests $5 million in Colorado’s forestry and wildfire mitigation workforce and tree nursery to more effectively mitigate and recover from wildfire destruction.

“For the past several years we’ve experienced the devastating impacts of wildfires in our state, affecting our lives, homes, health, watersheds and economy,” said Cutter. “The increase in frequency and intensity of these events is a direct result of escalating climate change. Over the past several years, we've worked hard to provide resources for mitigation and suppression, but have lacked the workforce to properly deploy these resources. This legislation builds on that progress to provide a more robust forestry workforce.”

“Healthy, robust forests help us mitigate the devastation caused by wildfires,” Story said. “This new law will fund critical upgrades at the State Forest Service’s tree nursery to update the facilities and increase the number of seedlings to repair and replant forests devastated by wildfires. This will help stabilize watersheds and preserve critical natural ecosystems across our state.” 

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