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Colo. House speaker sponsors bill to slash greenhouse gas emissions 90% by 2050

The speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives introduced legislation March 21 that sets a statewide goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26% from 2005 levels by 2025.

The bill further seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and by at least 90% by 2050. The bill would empower the state's Air Quality Control Commission to create rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The commission would consult the Colorado Public Utilities Commission about how the rules would impact retail electricity providers in the state.

KC Becker, the House Democratic leader, introduced the bill with 20 co-sponsors from the House and three co-sponsors from the Senate.

Becker's policy goals line up with plans by Colorado utilities to decrease fossil fuel-fired generation. Xcel Energy Inc., parent company of one of the state's largest electric utilities, in December 2018 unveiled a plan to completely decarbonize its power supply portfolio by 2050, with a short-term goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80% from 2005 levels by 2030. The Platte River Power Authority also announced a goal to decarbonize by 2030.

The outlook for the passage of legislation addressing climate change improved following the November 2018 elections, when Colorado voters ousted the Republican majority in the state Senate and sent Democrat Jared Polis to the governor's office following his campaign pledges to make Colorado a leader among states in reducing carbon emissions through various means, including decarbonizing electric power delivery and transitioning to zero-emissions vehicles.

Democrats now control both chambers of the Colorado Legislature. In January, Polis set a goal to achieve 100% clean electric generation by 2040, with a short-term goal of achieving 80% clean electric generation by 2030.