Governor Polis has said that his priority this legislative session is to make Colorado affordable. It is also one of his campaign promises. What he refuses to admit is that his failed economic policies and aggressive renewable energy agenda are among the causes of the high cost of living in Colorado. That is hurting Colorado families, many of whom are still struggling to recover from the economic effects of the pandemic.
Let’s start from the premise that caring for the environment is a bipartisan issue. Of course we all want clean air and clean water for our communities, so we have common ground on this issue. The disagreement comes in when you try to answer the “how do we get there?” question.
The Executive Director of Colorado’s Energy Office, Will Toor, recently presented to the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee (JBC). He communicated support for the Governor’s “ambitious legislative agenda.” He touted the need to reduce energy costs and yet, energy costs are projected to continue to increase on Colorado families.
The Governor’s long-term goal is for Colorado to be 100% renewable by 2040, but at what cost? The Energy Office is not looking into all sources of energy to cut energy costs. Senator Bob Rankin has said publicly that maybe we need to slow down the implementation of the renewable agenda and look at many energy sources, including nuclear and hydrogen. Director Toor responded that when we get to 80% or more renewables, we can look at other technologies to fill the gaps. His mission is to retire coal and replace it with lower-cost (and highly subsidized, though he conveniently left that part out) wind and solar. Senator Rankin has introduced a bill (Senate Bill 22-073) that would require the Office of Economic Development to study the feasibility of using small modular nuclear reactors as a carbon-free energy source.
There is $5 million dollars set aside in the Governor’s proposed budget that would be allocated for “economic development” in so-called “just transition” communities. The Office of Just Transition was established to support coal communities throughout the state with re-training for workers who will be laid off and “quality” jobs as coal plants start closing, but Senator Chris Hansen on the JBC questioned why we need to give coal communities more money. So, the Polis energy agenda includes transitioning the state (and the nation, for that matter) away from coal, killing jobs and hurting coal workers and their families, their schools and their local governments, but a $5 million investment back into those communities may be too much? Don’t forget that the Governor’s proposed budget includes $12 million for electric bikes and a $150 million investment in new school bus electrification.
What you won’t hear from the Governor or his Energy Office is that there is enough natural gas in one basin of Northwest Colorado to power the whole state of California for 10 years. Shouldn’t that be a part of the plan for making Colorado more affordable?
Governor Polis has publicly said that he would like a one-year delay (basically until after his successful re-election) on the 2-cent gas tax increase implemented by the massive transportation bill (Senate Bill 21-260) that he himself signed into law last year. He also publicly touts “fee relief”as his administrative agencies quietly begin new rulemaking to create yet more new fees from Senate Bill 260.
“Vote for me, I will make Colorado more affordable…but only during the election season.” Maybe the Governor should stop worrying about his future political aspirations and instead focus on the needs of the constituents that he purports to represent today.
Rose Pugliese is a former Mesa County Commissioner and a regular contributor to Complete Colorado.
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