Statements before the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission – August 20, 2020

Giselle H.

The impacts of climate change are not some distant abstraction in a far away land, in a far away future. They are here, now, knocking on our door. Colorado is experiencing one of its driest years on record, a quarter of the state is in extreme drought, and we have four fires that have collectively burned over 175,000 acres of our beautiful wildland. In many parts of Colorado, melting snow runoff is half of what it normally is, and we are experiencing a much longer fire season than usual. Since ecosystems need water to regenerate, our increasing drought conditions make it much less likely that our fire-burned forests will recover as well as they once did. It hurts my lungs to breathe when I walk outside. Ash lands on my clothes. Our state is burning. The signs could not be much clearer that we are doing something fatally wrong. And what we are experiencing now is just the start of what is to come, if we do not drastically reduce our emissions. That means phasing out all oil and gas development in the state. 

Research from NASA, Cornell and Harvard show that there has been a global spike in methane over the last decade that is largely due to fracking in the US. In the first two decades after its release, methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Cornell research warns that shale-gas production in North America alone over the past decade may have contributed more than half of all of the increased emissions from fossil fuels globally. 

The AQCC has not yet put us on track to meet greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, as required by HB-1261 and SB 19-096. As a young person on a burning planet, I am baffled at the fact that fracking development has continued to expand in this state, and that we do not have stricter continuous monitoring of emissions from the oil and gas sector. The oil and gas industry’s short-term profit margins need to stop taking precedence over human lives. We need to break out of this collective denial. Our lives are at stake and we do not have much time. Thank you for listening. 

Marie V.

Welcome and thank you for your hard work.  I am here unpaid, from a large coalition of community and statewide organizations today, as a mom and a long-term business owner, from a 5-generation ag family on one side.

My #1 message for you all is that Coloradans expect you to follow and deliver on the law — which is set out in very plain language.  You had a year and 6 new FTEs to help you draft implementing regulations of legislation critical to our lives and future.  If you aren’t getting adequate help from staff, the responsibility is still up to you.  The implementing regulations might have to be simpler and blunter, doing it on your own, but you can get it done.

One way to do that is to follow what will get the job done and the most straightforward cost-effective paths and recommendations found elsewhere.  You could pass your implementing regulations next month, as a backstop to whatever CDPHE might come up with in the future requiring:

  • 80% clean electricity by 2025
  • No more permitting of fossil fueled anything as of Jan 1st 2021.  New housing construction needs to transition, NEW vehicles, at least in metro areas, to start

Even WRA testified to the Subcommittee on Tuesday that a much more rapid transition of electricity is necessary to meet the 2025 statutory GHG limits.  As legislators said this morning, it is up to you to create the rungs on the ladder, you have the statutory authority.  Delay from month to month might be satisfactory to some, but it is not what the good people of Colorado expect.    We are waiting and expect the AQCC to follow the law.  There are good, positive ways forward for the state.

See min 7:  Password: THE-AIR (no spaces after)