The national center-right media’s fawning over Jared Polis continues apace.
Now the Wall Street Journal editorial board has joined the fanfare. In a June 12th editorial entitled “Jared Polis Bucks the Climate Lobby,” the Journal’s ed board praised our Governor for his veto of House Bill 1218, a costly government mandate that would have placed firm electric vehicle charging station requirements on commercial and residential developers.
The editorial correctly identifies how the bill’s “inflexible mandates would have made new housing development and commercial remodels more expensive up front.” But it goes astray where it attributes the veto to Governor Polis “putting his constituents over the climate lobby.”
Those of us here on the ground know the story is far less virtuous. Our “affordability Governor” was able to cast aside HB 1218 only after a far more onerous bill made its costly mandates redundant.
House Bill 1362, which was signed by Governor Polis five days prior to his veto of HB 1218, contains similar impositions on residential and commercial developers. It did not receive the same media attention that his veto received, yet the bill goes much further than 1218 would have.
It will usurp authority from local governments across Colorado by imposing a statewide minimum standard for residential and commercial building codes, much like the cost-raising mandates the Journal’s editorial board cites in California.
It stands to bring the same green codes that nearly priced victims of the Marshall Fire out of rebuilding what was lost in a disaster, to housing and building construction across the state. Never mind the fact that local governments in Boulder County were forced to waive those same codes after facing the wrath of justifiably displeased residents.
The bill will require wiring infrastructure for electric vehicle charging stations, an EV-ready component that makes the would-be charging station mandates from HB 1218 duplicative.
The bill also specifies that the new code baseline must include requirements for wiring to support building electrification whether or not a homeowner wishes to use natural gas for heating, stoves, and other appliances.
Lastly, it mandates the inclusion of wiring capacity for solar panels whether or not on-site solar is desirable or efficient on a given build.
National homebuilding professionals have suggested the codes will add tens-of-thousands to the upfront cost of building new housing, while local architects have suggested the additional costs could be as high as $100,000.
Dozens of national and local climate groups lobbied in support of the bill while local governments, homeowner groups, and builders expressed opposition. Guess which side won the day?
In the face of sky-high inflation and woefully inadequate housing inventory, HB 1362 stands to make new housing even more costly in what is already the fifth most expensive housing market in the country.
So no, Governor Polis did not “buck the climate lobby” in favor of his constituents. Rather, his prior capitulation to environmentalists allowed him to feign moderacy in his veto of HB 1218. All the while, costs for Coloradans continue to mount.
Providing credit where it’s due is one thing. Breathless praise given under mistaken pretenses are quite another. Hopefully the national media starts to pay closer attention.
Jake Fogleman is an energy policy analyst at the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.
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