Legislation will cut methane and toxic air pollution and invest a record setting $111.25 million toward air quality improvements
DENVER, CO – The House advanced three bills today on a preliminary vote to improve air quality, address orphan wells and foster a healthier Colorado.
“With some of the worst air quality in the country, Colorado needs a better understanding of where our toxic emissions are coming from and how we can reduce them,” said Rep. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood, sponsor of HB22-1244. “This bill is personal–ethylene oxide emitted by a manufacturer in my community is potentially increasing the risk of cancer for my constituents. Our bill identifies these hazardous air toxics based on their health impacts and empowers Colorado’s air quality experts to require polluters to clean up their act.”
“Some of our most disproportionately impacted communities, my neighbors, are breathing in Colorado’s most polluted air,” said Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, D-Denver, sponsor of HB22-1244. “This bill improves the way we monitor air toxics in Colorado and takes a proactive approach to reduce these harmful emissions based on what is best for our health. Latino communities in Colorado are adversely impacted by poor air quality, one in three Latino children has asthma–this is our reality. Ongoing exposure to air toxics takes a devastating toll on our health and this bill protects vulnerable Coloradans and improves the air we all breathe.”
Reducing Air Toxics Emissions: HB22-1244, sponsored by Representatives Chris Kennedy and Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, would improve Colorado’s air quality through increased monitoring and regulation of hazardous air toxics. HB22-1244 requires the identification of priority air toxics and sets protective health-based standards to prioritize public health. The bill requires emissions control regulations to reduce toxic air pollution and establishes a framework for future permitting.
Colorado is facing an air quality crisis. Last month, the Front Range was declared a “severe” violator of federal ozone standards by the EPA. Unlike ozone, the state does not currently have a plan to protect Coloradans from toxic pollution, HB22-1244 would establish a comprehensive approach to monitoring air toxics.
“We are one step closer to passing a bill that prioritizes clean air, improves our health and builds a pathway toward a healthier future for every Coloradan,” said Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Englewood, sponsor of SB22-193. “We’re tackling air pollution from every angle including cutting back on industrial emissions, ramping up air monitoring equipment and electrifying transit. This is an investment toward a cleaner, healthier future for all of Colorado.”
“Building a healthier Colorado starts with improving the air we breathe and this record investment is a step in the right direction,” said Rep. Alex Valdez, D-Denver, sponsor of SB22-193. “Colorado’s disadvantaged communities and low-income neighborhoods are often exposed to higher rates of pollution and toxic emissions–our plan works to address that reality. This transformational investment to clean up our air will electrify school buses, cut down on industrial air toxics and fund more renewable energy projects.”
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.
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.
“Orphaned oil and gas wells are a major contributor to methane emissions in Colorado and a financial liability for taxpayers,” said Rep. Mike Weissman, D-Aurora, sponsor of SB22-198. “This bipartisan bill would help reduce harmful emissions and Colorado’s carbon footprint by ensuring oil and gas operators contribute to cleaning up orphaned wells. Building a healthier Colorado includes improving our state’s methane emissions, and this bill addresses a significant source of those emissions.”
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. 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.