As our literate readers are no doubt already aware, there is some controversy brewing under the Gold Dome between the Democratic majority in the Colorado General Assembly and Gov. Jared Polis over Senate Bill 21-200: legislation to implement and accelerate greenhouse gas reduction goals signed into law by Gov. Polis in 2019. Colorado Public Radio reports:
In a conversation with the Colorado Springs Gazette editorial board earlier this week, Polis said he could not support SB21-200, a climate bill designed to empower air regulators to enforce the state’s greenhouse gas emission-reduction goals. Polis signed those goals into law in 2019. The plan commits Colorado to cut climate-warming emissions 26 percent by 2025, 50 percent by 2030 and 90 percent by 2050 below 2005 emissions levels.
Democratic state lawmakers have since grown frustrated with his administration’s strategy to enforce the action plan, which favors incentives and voluntary collaboration with the private sector over mandatory, enforceable regulations.
The legislation would force the executive branch to switch gears quickly. If passed, the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission would be required to write rules to meet the targets by March 2022. The bill also defines the total emissions from different sectors of Colorado’s economy, such as the transportation and the oil and gas industry.
Speaking to the conservative Colorado Springs Gazette editorial board, Polis assailed the bill for giving too much power to the state’s unelected (and, we’re obliged to add, not without its own troubles) Air Quality Control Commission:
“We feel that if Colorado is going to meet these carbon goals and air quality goals, it should be in the light of day, with legislative debate … and not through a top-down mandate through an unelected board.”
Asked if he would veto the bill if it cleared the legislature and landed on his desk, Polis said, “Yeah, I mean, we’re not willing to give dictatorial authority over our economy to one unelected board that lacks the broader mandate and expertise.”
Although this constitutes a pretty fundamental objection to the mechanism of Senate Bill 200, which is empowering the AQCC to lead and track the progress of the emissions targets that are already signed into law, it’s definitely not the end of negotiations between a legislature and executive who share the common goal of meeting the state’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals.
There’s always a temptation to let tempers flare in these moments of uncertainty in the sausage-making process, but the smart response is to follow the lead of discussions taking placing between these good-faith actors. Politically, neither Gov. Polis nor Democrats in the legislature have anything to gain from not reaching a deal, so we fully expect one to emerge.
This is not a disagreement about whether, but how. If that premise changes it will be big news.