Colorado Signs Historic Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act

“This law is a template for tomorrow that allows us to transform our energy portfolio, our economy and our environment by working strategically and collaboratively,” Gov. Ritter said. “By shifting our oldest and least efficient coal plants to cleaner, Colorado-produced natural gas, we send a strong message to the rest of the country that we absolutely can cut air pollution and protect public health while also creating jobs and protecting ratepayers.”

Gov. Ritter was joined at the Capitol signing ceremony by members of a broad coalition that supported House Bill 1365, including Xcel Energy Chairman and CEO Dick Kelly, lawmakers, power producers and conservationists. The bill’s main sponsors were Reps. Judy Solano (D-Brighton) and Ellen Roberts (R-Durango) and Sens. Bruce Whitehead (D-Hesperus) and Josh Penry (R-Grand Junction.)

The Colorado Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act requires Xcel to cut nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 80 percent from several Front Range coal plants by the end of 2017, most likely sooner. Xcel will work with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to submit a plan to the Public Utilities Commission by Aug. 15, detailing how it will retire or retrofit 900 megawatts of coal-fired capacity. Xcel will give primary consideration to replacing or repowering those plants with natural gas, renewables, greater efficiencies and other cleaner energy sources.

“HB 1365 will help us comply with looming federal clean air standards in a way that is pro-active and makes sense for Colorado,” Gov. Ritter said. “By using Colorado-produced, homegrown energy sources, we will jumpstart our natural gas sector the same we are driving Colorado’s solar and wind industries.

“This legislation brings economic, energy and environmental benefits together in one package,” the Governor said. “It will set a national example and serve as the exclamation point on Colorado’s New Energy Economy, which now also features a 30 percent Renewable Energy Standard and a new set of balanced, responsible and modern drilling rules.”

The Governor thanked Xcel Energy for its national leadership and for partnering with Colorado to create a more diverse and secure energy portfolio, strengthen Colorado’s economy and protect the state’s environment.

“This law gives us a great opportunity to address the issues of regional haze and ozone in a comprehensive fashion, with some certainty for our customers," said Xcel Energy Chairman and CEO Dick Kelly.

The federal Clean Air Act requires Colorado to submit a plan to address regional haze by early next year or the EPA will write its own plan for Colorado. The Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act will allow investor-owned utilities like Xcel Energy to help craft their own plans for how to meet new regional haze guidelines, as well as new mandates for ozone, mercury and carbon dioxide in one comprehensive analysis that will minimize costs and maximize emissions reductions.

“This bill has national implications,” Rep. Solano said. “Robert Kennedy Jr. has said this bill will be a model for other states and for Congress. HB 1365 gives us a chance to clean the air, to create jobs and to improve the health of our children. The bottom line is that we’re not waiting for Washington’s federal regulations. We are solving the problem on our own, on Colorado terms – today.”

“Prioritizing Colorado’s energy policies ahead of federal regulations and putting people back to work in high-paying, stable jobs is a win-win solution for Colorado,” Rep. Roberts said. “I am proud to have worked with the broad coalition that brought this bill together. This new law is a pro-active step toward strengthening Colorado’s energy policy for generations to come."

“With the signing of HB 1365, Colorado is creating jobs by phasing out older technology and replacing it with cleaner burning energy sources,” Sen. Whitehead said. “This will not happen overnight, but this is a necessary step towards building Colorado’s economy and improving Colorado’s air quality for future generations. To act proactively is to act responsibly, and that’s a Colorado that I’m proud to be a part of.”

“More drilling, less federal intrusion in Colorado – that’s the reason so many Republicans supported this bipartisan compromise," Senate Minority Leader Penry said. “It was a pleasure to work with Gov. Ritter on this important public policy victory.”

“Today marks that critical fork in the road when Colorado takes a new and giant step towards a 21st century energy future. HB 1365 brings together two key policy imperatives — energy independence and harmful pollution reductions — which are made possible and are inextricably linked by home-grown natural gas. HB 1365 serves as a model for what is possible when disparate interests come together for the common purpose of creating new, high-quality Colorado jobs and cleaning our air for future generations,” said three natural gas companies that helped craft the legislation, EnCana, Noble and Anadarko.

Several environmental organizations also were involved in advancing the act, including Environmental Defense, Western Resource Advocates and Environment Colorado.

“This legislation is a badly needed breath of fresh air in the effort to move Colorado away from coal and toward a cleaner and healthier energy future,” said Pete Maysmith, executive director of Colorado Conservation Voters. “Thanks to unlikely allies working together, including environmentalists, natural gas companies, utilities, Republicans and Democrats, Coloradans can all breathe easier today.”