Leaked draft indicates Hickenlooper poised to slash power plant emissions

Source: Jennifer Yachnin, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, August 25, 2016

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) could soon issue an executive order calling for reductions in carbon emissions from the state’s power plants, according to a draft of the document obtained by ClimateWire.

The proposed cuts closely track goals set for Colorado by U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Hickenlooper’s office acknowledged a draft is being vetted but said no final decisions have been made on the document’s contents.

But the governor and members of his administration have previously said the state would continue to work on goals set forth in the Clean Power Plan despite a Supreme Court stay of the federal climate change regulations earlier this year.

According to the draft executive order, Hickenlooper would direct state agencies to work with utilities, businesses and others to “pursue all viable strategies to achieve the most significant degree of emissions reductions that can be accomplished while maintaining reliable, affordable energy for ratepayers.”

State agencies would be tasked with achieving a 25 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector by 2025, based on 2012 emissions levels. The executive order would increase those reductions to 35 percent by 2030.

The executive order repeatedly refers to Colorado’s 2015 Climate Plan, noting that the new mandates will build on the “robust efforts to protect our clean air and meet the challenges posed by a changing climate.”

Hickenlooper would also create a state interagency work group on climate change that would be tasked with recommending policy, regulatory and legislative changes, as well as gathering feedback from federal agencies, local government, the private sector and public interests, among others.

The document indicates Hickenlooper plans to announce the executive action in September.

Both Hickenlooper and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) are set to be honored with the Western Resource Advocates’ Kelley Green Conservation Leadership Award next month, in part for their support of the Clean Power Plan.

Hickenlooper has called the Clean Power Plan — which would mandate a 38.3 percent emissions reduction rate across the country — an “ambitious” but achievable goal.

But Colorado is one of 27 states that have challenged the plan in court, with state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman (R) saying the reductions would cause job losses and increased utility rates.

Western Resource Advocates President Jon Goldin-Dubois praised the draft order, calling the goals “achievable.”

“Colorado has been a leader in reducing carbon for over a decade thanks to broadly supported policies that promote clean energy and Colorado jobs,” he said. “We like the direction the governor’s taken and support his commitment to clean air.”

To see the draft executive order, click here.