In a crowded theater Monday afternoon, Vice President Kamala Harris sat in front of hundreds of Colorado residents to tout the Biden administration's climate-related initiatives and express hope for the future of climate change.
“There is so much that is happening right now that gives me a sense of optimism,” Harris said. “We’re saving something, but we’re also going to be better. We’re creating, we’re innovating. ... We can’t ever stop imagining what is possible.”
Harris visited the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities Monday to participate in a conversation with U.S. Rep. Brittany Pettersen and Sasha DiGiulian with the Protect Our Winters Athlete Alliance. Over the course of 30 minutes, Harris and the speakers highlighted the Biden administration’s work to combat climate change, as well as its upcoming plans.
This is the first time Harris has visited Colorado since March 2021, when she met with local business owners to promote a recently passed COVID-19 relief package. Second gentleman Douglas Emhoff also stopped by, visiting the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Jefferson County Monday morning.
While Harris has visited at least five other states in the last two months to promote national action addressing climate change, she praised Colorado as among the national leaders in climate-related policies.
“You have a state as bold as Colorado to actually be able to implement policies and show people that, beyond a concept or an idea, that it actually works,” Harris said. “It works for the betterment and the improvement of everyone’s life for generations.”
Colorado has embraced policies that seek to quickly transition the state away from fossil-fired energy. Supporters said the policies position the state to take advantage of technological innovations to curb greenhouse gas emissions and create a cleaner environment and healthier planet. Critics complain that the transition is happening too quickly, burdening low and fixed-income Coloradans.
Harris particularly focused on the importance of water conservation, applauding the federal government’s work in funding those efforts. The Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law in August, allocates $370 billion into fighting climate change, including $4 billion for water management and conservation in the Colorado River Basin and other areas experiencing similar levels of drought.
Most recently, funding from the act poured $125 million into a pilot program last month, designed to conserve water by paying Colorado River users to voluntarily implement temporary water conservation measures.
Harris also emphasized the role of electric vehicles in combating climate change, noting transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas pollution in the United States. In November 2021, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill designated $550 billion for roads, bridges and mass transit, including $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations and $5 billion for electric school buses.
Last year, Colorado was granted $51 million of those funds to pay for low- and zero-emission transit programs throughout the state — marking the largest federal investment Colorado has ever gotten for such transit projects. That same year, the state passed a bill allocating $65 million to transition diesel school buses to electric alternatives and $12 million for electric bike incentive programs.
“What we’ve been able to do, I really do believe is transformational,” Harris said. “What an impact we can have to fast forward what is long overdue on a number of issues.”
Harris touched on ideas for future actions she says would address climate change, ranging from satellite technology to detect water, to collecting flood water to combat drought, to replacing lead pipes throughout the country.
During Monday’s event, Harris received praise from Gov. Jared Polis, state Rep. Lindsey Daugherty, Cultivando Executive Director Olga Gonzalez and Black Parents United Foundation Executive Director Shere Walker-Ravenell.
The audience included dozens of local politicos from across the state, including state Sens. Rhonda Fields, Janet Buckner, Faith Winter and Janice Marchman, state Reps. Brianna Titone, Jennifer Bacon, Sonya Jaquez Lewis, Iman Jodeh, Naquetta Ricks, Mary Young, Regina English, Ruby Dickson and Sheila Lieder, and the mayors of Boulder, Erie, Broomfield and Edgewater.
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