Negotiations on this year’s landmark climate change legislation are still ongoing and the Senate does not have a timeline for advancing the bill, Majority Leader Steve Fenberg said on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 200 from Sens. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, and Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, and Rep. Dominique Jackson, D-Aurora, is wide-ranging and designed primarily to make the Air Quality Control Commission what Winter described as “the program manager of meeting our greenhouse gas reduction goals.”
Those goals were put in place by legislation passed in 2019 seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26% by 2025, at least 50% by 2030 and 90% by 2050, based on 2005 levels. But some Democratic lawmakers and climate activists worry that a “road map” to meeting the 2050 goal released by Gov. Jared Polis earlier this year could fall short without clear, enforceable standards.
The bill from Winter, Moreno and Jackson tries to meet those goals by, among other things, setting caps on emissions by industry. Winter said those aren’t “hard caps,” adding the AQCC “has the flexibility to adjust goals as necessary to make sure we're meeting our statewide goal.”
But Polis last month came out firmly against the bill, telling The Gazette editorial board his administration feels “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.”
Despite that opposition, the bill advanced through the committee process in the Senate and has been on the chamber’s calendar for second reading debate since Friday. Fenberg, D-Boulder, noted to reporters on Tuesday that “it's not like it's been hanging out there forever.”
“We're having the conversation to see if we can get a deal and figure out a path forward, so we're sort of right now in a little bit of a holding pattern,” he said.
Fenberg, a Polis ally, said he personally supported the legislation and is “working with all sides right now, along with the speaker and the sponsors, to see what the path forward” is.
“I don't want to see that bill get vetoed, I don't want to see that bill get watered down to a place where it doesn't do much,” he said. “But I also am a realist and want to make sure that we can get something done. I think it's much better to get something significant, meaningful done than to not find a path forward.”