Colorado organizations’ takes on the GHG Roadmap just released

Oct 2020

350 Colorado’s Take on the Governor’s Roadmap

The Governor’s Climate Cabinet’s GHG Pollution Reduction Roadmap is a start, but to achieve the goals of HB 19-1261, more aggressive goals, specific policies, and enforcement will be needed. 

Last year, legislation was passed in Colorado to begin addressing Colorado’s contribution to the climate crisis and curbing emissions that not only contribute to climate change, but also adversely impact air quality and contribute pollution harmful to respiratory health. The proposed Colorado GHG Reduction Roadmap released on Sept. 30th is a start, but to achieve the goals of HB 19-1261 and eventually more aggressive goals that climate science and justice demand, more specific policies and enforcement will be needed. 

The droughts and wildfires that have turned our skies orange are a reminder that addressing climate change and ensuring a habitable climate requires us to actually transition off of fossil fuels in the near future. Colorado has not met federal air quality standards for over a decade, and the AQCC is still lagging in meeting its statutory requirement to develop rules that will enable Colorado to meet new GHG emissions reduction goals passed by the legislature. 

With the Governor’s Colorado Greenhouse Gas Pollution Roadmap, the state has the opportunity to make critical changes in GHG emission reductions and be a part of the solution in safeguarding our health and air quality. Yet in order to do this, the Roadmap must include far stronger sector-specific targets, policies, and enforcement to protect the environment and climate justice to successfully implement necessary and rapid climate solutions. Despite the potential for bold climate action that the Roadmap represents, the protections and emission reduction goals laid out in the Roadmap must be more ambitious, equitable, quantifiable, and enforceable, and these guiding principles should be directly reflected in the outcomes of the Roadmap. 

Currently, there is no reference to how the Roadmap will develop enforceable measures to monitor and reduce emissions from oil and gas extraction. By enforceable, we mean specifics outlining which entities are being regulated, what pollutants are being regulated, at what level of stringency pollutants are being regulated, and how third party monitoring of emissions will be conducted. Having clear, enforceable limits for various industries to reduce GHG emissions are necessary in order to lock in reductions, and there must be meaningful consequences for polluters when proposed rules are violated.

Furthermore, 350 Colorado is concerned that the current proposed plan in the Roadmap does not align with a 66% likelihood of meeting the IPCC’s goal of staying below 1.5C, which requires 100% GHG emissions by 2036. With current statewide efforts for reducing GHGs, our state is not even on track for a 50% chance of avoiding climate catastrophe. While the plan considers reducing upstream and downstream operation leak rates, it ignores the reality that adequately addressing climate change and ensuring a habitable climate requires us to actually transition off of fossil fuels in the near future and stop bringing online new fossil fuel development. A rapid phase off of fossil fuels needs to be considered in developing key strategies for reaching GHG reductions. There are significant disparities between strategies proposed in the Roadmap for GHG reductions and what is outlined by the IPCC as necessary for a 66% chance of keeping global temperatures rise below 1.5C. 

350 Colorado recommends a 10% per year phase out of all new oil and gas permitting to ensure that Colorado’s emissions reductions align with IPCC goals. We believe that having a total phase out of new fossil fuel development by 2030 outlined in the Roadmap will serve as a catalyst for a just transition, which is another reason why equity must be baked into the rules, rather than it being an afterthought. We are encouraged to see a commitment to a just transition away from coal toward a renewable-energy future written into the Roadmap, and we encourage this just transition to be extended to all fossil fuels. In addition to this, we recommend that “Renewable Natural Gas” (RNG) not be used as a bridge fuel to replace a portion of the fossil-based gas as is suggested in the Roadmap. Investments in RNG will likely simply greenwash and extend the use of fossil gas, when Coloradans would ultimately be better served by a fossil fuel phase out and placing those investments in 100% clean renewable energy.

The proposed emission reduction targets laid out in the Roadmap are far too low, especially in regard to the oil and gas sector, the electric sector, and in regard to the phase out of coal-fired power plants. Currently, the Roadmap proposes for the oil and gas sector a 33% reduction in total emissions by 2025 and a 50% reduction by 2030. For the electric sector, the Roadmap proposes 80% pollution reductions by 2030. For both of these sectors, we believe that the emission reductions fall short. 

In terms of the electric sector, we recommend 70% emissions reductions by 2025 compared to 2005, and 98% by 2030. In terms of the oil and gas sector, we recommend a 45% reduction in oil and gas emissions by 2025 and 90% by 2030. In order to reach these goals, as we have previously stated, we strongly recommend a 10% reduction per year in new oil and gas permitting, for a total phase out of permitting by 2030. We also recommend a phase-out of coal-fired power plants by 2025. 

350 Colorado is also deeply concerned that the Roadmap does not start with an accurate baseline of emissions, especially methane from the oil and gas industry. A more thorough GHG inventory is needed using best available technologies including top down atmospheric measurements. Recent research on the air quality impacts of oil and gas development in Colorado shows a worrying spike in global methane emissions over the last decade from fracking in North America, primarily the U.S., and Colorado is the sixth most fracked stateResearch from Cornell indicates that methane emissions are likely 2-4 times higher than current estimates from the shale oil and gas industry. While the Roadmap is correct in stressing the important role that minimizing the release of methane from the oil and gas industry plays in reaching statewide emission reduction targets, emission estimates of methane and other GHGs are far higher than industry estimates. 

In addition to top-down atmospheric monitoring, we recommend that continuous emissions monitoring at all polluting sites be conducted by an independent third party with methods and expertise suitable to measure a higher dynamic range and with high time resolution in order to ensure that methane is in fact being reduced at the required rate and to hold polluters accountable. This information should be made available to the public online in real time. We see no way that emission reduction targets will be reached unless accurate, continuous emissions monitoring that requires the simultaneous monitoring of VOCs, methane, and BTEX are written directly into the Roadmap. While having data E3 used to develop the Roadmap available to the public is a step in the right direction, this transparency should be extended toward making real-time emissions monitoring data available to the public. 

We encourage the APCD (Air Pollution Control Division of the Department of Public Health and Environment) to make available to the public the reports that will be presented to the AQCC on current and projected GHG inventories. The Roadmap should also address the loopholes created from the AQCC’s latest Regulation number 7, which opts for industry self-reporting and optional, ‘flexible’ monitoring of key oil and gas pollutants. These recently adopted rules do not adequately implement SB 19-181, and given that rulemakings are a main mechanism proposed for ensuring emission reductions, we call for the Roadmap to address any loopholes that result from current and subsequent rulemakings conducted by the AQCC and COGCC.

In summation, 350 Colorado believes that far stronger and bolder protections must be written into the Roadmap in order to ensure that it serves as a solution in safeguarding our health, safety, air quality and climate. The protections and emission reduction goals outlined in the Roadmap must be more ambitious, equitable, quantifiable, and enforceable, and these principles must guide the outcomes of the Roadmap. We are also concerned that the current proposed emissions targets outlined in the Roadmap do not align with either a 66% or even 50% chance of meeting the IPCC’s goal of staying below 1.5C global temperature rise. We call for a total phase out of new fossil fuel development by 2030 as both a necessity for maintaining a habitable planet for generations to come, as well as improving air quality, addressing environmental injustice, and serving as a catalyst for a just transition. Additionally, in order to meet ambitious emissions reduction targets, we must start with an accurate baseline that is measured using the best available technologies, including third-party top down atmospheric measurements and continuous monitoring with this data available to the public in real time online. The fossil fuel industry must not be allowed to self-regulate and self-report. Colorado must properly study and assess the full impact of the oil and gas industry and begin the transition away from oil and gas, in order to both reduce VOC emissions statewide and address the full climate footprint of this state. Amidst wildfires, a statewide drought and serious air quality issues, there is no time to lose to begin making progress toward taking bold climate action to ensure a liveable planet and future. 

Ean Thomas Tafoya, GreenLatinos, (720) 621-8985,

Jeremy Nichols, WildEarth Guardians, (303) 437-7663,

Denver—Today, the State of Colorado released a draft Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap, which officials claim presents the path forward for achieving climate goals under House Bill-1261. 

This legislation, which was signed into law by Governor Jared Polis in 2019, requires a 26% statewide reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, a 50% reduction by 2030, and a 90% reduction by 2050.  It also required that these emissions reductions be prioritized where people of color, low income neighborhoods, and Tribal communities are disproportionately impacted by sources of climate pollution.

GreenLatinos and WildEarth Guardians offered the following statement today in response to the draft “roadmap.”

“This draft ‘roadmap’ is an insult to people of color, low income communities and others who are continuously and unjustly harmed by climate pollution in Colorado. While the ‘roadmap’ gives lip service to justice, equity, and inclusion, it ultimately fails to propose any specific actions that would achieve these goals, to truly achieve climate justice, or aid people in 80216 – one the nation’s most polluted zip codes.”  Said Ean Thomas Tafoya, Colorado Water and Climate Organizer for GreenLatinos.

Added Tafoya, “This draft ‘roadmap’ perpetuates the same inequality and racism that is leaving countless Colorado communities and families more vulnerable than ever because of air pollution that not only directly degrades peoples’ health, but also fuels the climate crisis.  It does not prioritize climate action in disproportionately impacted communities and ultimately will only perpetuate environmental injustice in Colorado.”

“This draft ‘roadmap’ is devoid of the specifics and clarity needed to truly demonstrate that Colorado can get on track to meet its climate goals.  While setting forth high level goals and aspirations, it fails to actually explain how Colorado will achieve these goals and ultimately fails to demonstrate that the state will meet the 2025 and 2030 greenhouse gas reductions required under House Bill-1261,” said Jeremy Nichols, Climate and Energy Program Director for WildEarth Guardians.

Added Nichols, “More than anything, this draft ‘roadmap’ seems to reflect Governor Polis’ unwillingness to truly drive Colorado forward on climate.  Maps mean nothing without a willingness to drive.  Without a true commitment to action and a legitimate gameplan for achieving the emissions reductions needed to confront the climate crisis, the draft ‘roadmap’ is just more talk with no walk.”


The Just Transition Plan Overview

The passing of the Climate Emergency Resolution impacted the Just Transition Plan (JTP) that was in development since late 2018. The original aim of the JTP was to create an equitable transition to 100% renewable electricity through inclusive engagement and actions to minimize the impact of the transition on underserved and underrepresented populations. The Climate Emergency Resolution created the opportunity to expand the focus of the JTP to include broader equitable climate action for frontline communities.  Learn more about the Climate Emergency Resolution on Engage Longmont.

The development of the JTP has occurred in two phases:

  1. Learn Where We Are Today

To learn about the current level of access to electrical energy services and programs, City staff reviewed national and local reports to identify potential lack of access to electric energy services and the interconnection between energy and community health and other basic needs. Next, to better understand low-to-medium income residents, in the summer of 2019 the City distributed a survey to 562 residents and held ten listening sessions. Select this link to view the two-page summary of the survey and listening session results.

       2. Develop Policy and Program Recommendations

The development of policy and program recommendations started in the Fall of 2019 by holding four Environment & Us Workshops to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of integrating equity into environmental actions and policy. After the workshops were held, the City passed the Climate Emergency Resolution shifting the focus of the policy and program recommendation development from an equitable transition to 100% renewable electricity to equitable climate action. The final equitable climate action policy and program recommendations were created by a Just Transition Plan (JTP) Committee, as detailed in the JTP Committee Equity Recommendations section of the Climate Action Recommendations Report.

Just Transition Plan Committee

In January of 2020, eight residents and three staff were selected to participate in the Just Transition Plan (JTP) Committee. The members were selected based on their passion related to equity and climate action, and connection to different frontline communities in Longmont. Similar to the Climate Action Task Force, the JTP Committee held eight meetings to develop an equitable climate action definition, equity lens to be applied to climate action recommendations, and recommendations for on how to integrate equity into climate action. The JTP Committee worked to provide direct support to the Climate Action Task Force during a joint team meeting and develop their own set of recommendations. These recommendations can be applied to current and future climate action. To read the final JTP Committee recommendations and the full Climate Action Recommendations Report, select this link.


NASA’s Hansen Explains Decision to Join Keystone Pipeline Protests

By Elizabeth McGowan


“Einstein said to think and not act is a crime,” James Hansen tells SolveClimate News. “If we understand the situation, we must try to make it clear.”

By Elizabeth McGowan, SolveClimate News

WASHINGTON—Unless Hurricane Irene interrupts his travel, renowned NASA climate scientist James Hansen will join demonstrators today at the White House to protest the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. U.S. Park Police officers have arrested hundreds of participants since the sit-in began Aug. 20.

Thirty years ago, Hansen was among the first scientists to warn that burning fossil fuels was warming the Earth—and would lead to dire consequences. Frustrated that few were heeding alarms about the dangers of climate change, he turned to civil disobedience a couple of years ago. Twice he has been arrested for protesting mountaintop removal coal mining—in West Virginia in 2009 and at the White House in 2010.

Now 70, Hansen heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. In June he joined an effort spearheaded by Bill McKibben, the Vermont author, professor and founder of the advocacy organization, to coordinate a two-week protest against Keystone XL. They want the Obama administration to reject a Canadian company’s application to construct the $7 billion, 1,702-mile pipeline, which would carry heavy crude from the oil sands mines of Alberta to refineries along the Gulf Coast.

On Friday, State Department officials released their final environmental analysis of TransCanada’s proposed pipeline, saying the project will have “limited adverse environmental impacts.” The administration is expected to approve or reject Keystone XL by the end of the year.

In this interview with SolveClimate News, conducted via e-mail, Hansen talks about the link between oil sands and emissions of heat-trapping gases, and why he’s again risking arrest in the nation’s capital.

SolveClimate News: Can you explain why you have said it’s “game over” on the climate front if the Keystone XL pipeline is built?

James Hansen: President George W. Bush said that the U.S. was addicted to oil. So what will the U.S. response to this situation be? Will it entail phasing out fossil fuels and moving to clean energy or borrowing the dirtiest needle from a fellow addict? That is the question facing President Obama.

If he chooses the dirty needle it is game over because it will confirm that Obama was just greenwashing, like the other well-oiled coal-fired politicians with no real intention of solving the addiction. Canada is going to sell its dope, if it can find a buyer. So if the United States is buying the dirtiest stuff, it also surely will be going after oil in the deepest ocean, the Arctic, and shale deposits; and harvesting coal via mountaintop removal and long-wall mining. Obama will have decided he is a hopeless addict.

SolveClimate News: You have referred to Keystone XL as the “fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet.” What actual effect would it have on the amount of carbon dioxide in the air?

James Hansen: If released all at once, the known tar sands resource is equivalent to 150 parts per million. As is the case with other fossil fuel sources, the amount in the air declines to about 20 percent after 1,000 years. Of course, only a small fraction of the resource is economically recoverable at the moment. But if you decide you are going to continue your addiction and build a big pipeline to Texas, the economically extractable oil will steadily grow over time. Moreover the known resources would grow because there is plenty more to be discovered.

Every seller will tell you his pile of pollution is small compared to the total pile on Earth, and that is correct. What makes tar sands particularly odious is that the energy you get out in the end, per unit carbon dioxide, is poor. It’s equivalent to burning coal in your automobile. We simply cannot be that stupid if we want to preserve a planet for our children and grandchildren.

Editor’s Note: Before the Industrial Revolution, the amount of carbon dioxide in the air measured about 280 parts per million (ppm), according to researchers. Today, it measures about 390 ppm. That means, for example, that every million pints of air contained 390 pints of carbon dioxide. To keep climate disruption to a minimum, many scientists say ppm shouldn’t rise above 350.

SolveClimate News: You were one of the earliest scientific voices to warn about the harm of climate change. Did you ever imagine that a pipeline such as Keystone XL could become the centerpiece of climate activism?

James Hansen: No. In my first major paper on this topic, in Science in 1981, I listed the amount of carbon dioxide that would be introduced by each fossil fuel. I concluded that the world would recognize that it had to phase out coal without burning it all, and not develop unconventional fossil fuels such as tar sands. I was assuming that policymakers would be rational. I did not realize the power that fossil fuel special interests have over policymakers and the public.

SolveClimate News: Some people cite national security as a reason for approving Keystone XL. They say it’s better to import diluted bitumen from a friendly U.S. neighbor than from overseas enemies. Can that dynamic be changed?

James Hansen: No, it is not logical. In a study funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, a group of retired four-star generals and admirals concluded that climate change, if not addressed, will be the greatest threat to national security. The definition of how not to address climate change is to develop unconventional fossil fuels such as tar sands. That would guarantee that there will be far greater national security problems.

It is a nonsense argument, because oil is an internationally traded quantity, with the source practically disappearing. It does matter how much oil you import. We need an energy policy that puts a price on carbon so we wind down our oil addiction. That is the only way to obtain national security.

SolveClimate News: Can you give three reasons why the president should follow your advice and reject the request to build Keystone XL?

James Hansen: Our children and grandchildren; the other species on the planet; and creation.

Solve Climate News: Most people don’t understand the link between a pipeline such as Keystone XL and climate change. How do you deal with that?

Jim Hansen: It is exceedingly difficult. Turn on your television and listen to the advertisements that the fossil fuel companies are broadcasting. How can we compete against such enormously powerful moneyed interests? Look how difficult it was to fight against the tobacco companies. They are puny compared with the fossil fuel special interests, which permeate governments around the world. The dynamic can change and will change, but it requires a growing movement. I don’t know exactly how we can do it, but we must.

Solve Climate News: What is motivating you to travel to the White House and risk arrest?

James Hansen: Einstein said to think and not act is a crime. If we understand the situation, we must try to make it clear. I decided six or seven years ago that I did not want my grandchildren to look back in the future and say “Opa understood what was happening, but he didn’t make it clear.”

See Also:  Climate Scientist Sees No Choice but to Risk Arrest at Keystone XL Protests Keystone XL Protesters Up Against Faded Interest in U.S. Climate Effort U.S. Climate Protests Shift to Blocking Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Oil Sands Pipeline Won’t Wreck Environment: U.S. State Department Keystone XL Primer: How the Pipeline’s Route Could Impact the Ogallala Aquifer EPA Smacks State Department Again: Oil Sands Pipeline Analysis ‘Insufficient’ Critics: State Dept.’s Latest Oil Pipeline Review ‘Superficial’ Pipeline Corrosion and Safety Issues Take Spotlight in Keystone XL Debate

Resumen de Plan de Transición Energética Justa (JTP por sus siglas en inglés)

La aprobación de la Resolución de la Emergencia Climática afectó el desarrollo del Plan de Transición Energética Justa (JTP)1 que estaba en pie desde fines del 2018. El objetivo inicial del JTP era crear una transición equitativa hacia el uso de electricidad 100% renovable, por medio de acciones equitativas que disminuyan el impacto de esta transición en poblaciones marginadas y poco representadas. La Resolución permitió que se ampliara el alcance del JTP y así incluir otras iniciativas que beneficien a las comunidades más afectadas. Visite este enlace de Engage Longmont para enterarse más sobre el Estado de Emergencia Climática.

El JTP ha ocurrido en dos fases:

  1. Conocer nuestra situación actual

Para saber cuánto acceso se tiene a los programas y servicios de electricidad, el personal de la Municipalidad revisó informes nacionales y locales para identificar posibles la falta de acceso  a estos servicios y, para conocer la relación entre la energía, la salud de la comunidad y sus necesidades básicas. Después, para poder comprender mejor las necesidades de los residentes que perciben bajos y medianos ingresos, en el 2019 la Municipalidad distribuyó una encuesta a 562 residentes de Longmont y realizó diez sesiones comunitarias.  En este enlace encontrará una página con el resumen de los resultados de la encuesta y de las conversaciones comunitarias.

        2. Crear recomendaciones para programas y políticas

La creación de recomendaciones empezó en el invierno 2019 con cuatro talleres “El Medioambiente y Nosotros”, cuya finalidad era concientizar a las personas sobre la importancia de incluir la equidad en las acciones y políticas medioambientales. Después de que se llevaron a cabo los talleres, la Ciudad aprobó la Resolución de Emergencia Climática cambiando el enfoque del desarrollo de recomendaciones de políticas y programas de una transición equitativa hacia la electricidad 100% renovable y una acción climática equitativa. Las recomendaciones finales de políticas y programas de acción climática equitativa fueron creadas por un Comité del Plan de Transición Energética Justa (JTP), como se explica en la continuación de Recomendaciones de Equidad Comité JTP en el Informe de Recomendaciones de Acción Climática.

Comité del Plan de Transición Energética Justa (JTP por sus siglas en inglés)

En enero de 2020, se seleccionaron ocho residentes y tres empleados de la Municipalidad para ser miembros del Comité JTP. Se les escogió en base a su pasión por la equidad y la acción climática, y por su relación con los comunidades de primera línea de Longmont. Así como el Grupo de Trabajo para la Acción Climática, este Comité también se reunió ocho veces para hablar de la definición de acción climática equitativa, noción de equidad y dar recomendaciones climáticas equitativas. El Comité JTP brindó apoyo directo al Grupo de Trabajo de Acción Climática en una reunión conjunta para desarrollar las recomendaciones. Estas recomendaciones pueden aplicarse en iniciativas climáticas actuales y futuras. Aquí podrá ver las recomendaciones finales del Comité JTP y el informe completo de las Recomendaciones de Acción Climática.