On Earth Day, Committee Puts the Earth First; Advances Environmental Justice, Renewable Energy Proposals

The Energy and Environment Committee today advanced two bills to advance renewable energy development and ensure the state’s environmental efforts consider the needs of disproportionately impacted communities 

DENVER, CO– The House Energy and Environment Committee today advanced a Colorado Comeback stimulus proposal to fund clean energy infrastructure projects at the local level and a separate bill to ensure the state’s environmental efforts consider the needs of disproportionately impacted communities. 

“The Colorado Comeback plan is about stimulating our economy today and helping to lay the groundwork to ensure a sustainable and thriving economy tomorrow,” said Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Englewood. “I can think of no better way to achieve these goals than to invest directly into local economies transitioning towards renewable energy. This bill helps us to build back stronger by creating jobs and investing in Colorado’s green energy infrastructure.”

“As market forces, consumer choices, and environmental consciousness move our state’s economy toward a clean energy future, we need to make investments to ensure our local economies can capitalize on the changing market,” said Rep. Matt Gray, D-Broomfield. “The grants that will be funded as a result of this bill will create jobs across the state and ensure that we build back a cleaner, greener energy economy for Colorado.”

HB21-1253, sponsored by Representatives Matt Gray and Meg Froelich, would invest $5 million into local government grants for shovel-ready, job-creating projects in the renewable energy sector. The grants would be distributed by the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) and are intended to be allocated by August 15, 2021. This bill is part of the Colorado Comeback state stimulus, a package of legislation that will invest roughly $700 million into helping Colorado recover faster and build back stronger. The bill passed by a vote of 6-5.

“Colorado’s climate policies must be as intersectional as the crisis we’re seeking to solve,” said Rep. Dominique Jackson, D-Aurora. “This bill will ensure that our state’s environmental response takes into account the unique and critical needs of disproportionately impacted communities. Environmental justice means giving a leg up to communities of color, low income communities, and others who are most impacted by the largest contributors of pollution and bear the brunt of the consequences of climate change. We cannot afford to wait..”

HB21-1266, sponsored by Representative Dominique Jackson, is designed to ensure Colorado’s climate policies put environmental justice at the forefront. The bill would create an Environmental Justice Action Task Force within the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), to take community input and develop an agency-wide environmental justice strategy. It would also create a definition for the terms “environmental justice” and “disproportionately impacted community” in the context of climate policy, ensuring that communities of color, low-income communities, and others who are disproportionately affected by the effects of climate change are considered in the state’s climate response efforts. The bill passed by a vote of 8-5.