By Patty Nieberg
DENVER (AP) — Colorado lawmakers have rejected Republican attempts by the state to protect the use of natural gas as cities across the United States move toward decarbonization and renewable energy needs in new buildings. .
The bill, sponsored by Republican Representative Dan Woog, would have protected the private and public use of natural gas, propane, solar panels, micro-wind turbines or small hydroelectricity for cooking, hot water, heating or electricity.
The measure was rejected on Thursday by the parliamentary committee on energy and the environment.
Just a week ago, researchers in California published a study that found that even when not running, US gas stoves emit 2.6 million tons (2.4 million metric tons) of methane. – in units of carbon dioxide equivalent – in the air each year. This is equivalent to the annual amount of greenhouse gases of half a million cars or what the United States emits into the air every three and a half hours.
Opposition to the bill said its inclusion of renewable energy options is deliberately misleading and part of a larger-scale attempt to bolster the fossil fuel industry.
“This legislative concept fits very well into a nationwide campaign launched by fossil industry interests to increase their profits, their bottom lines, at the expense of American consumers,” said Alejandra Mejia Cunningham who testified against the proposed law in the name of natural resources. Defense Council.
But Woog said the goal of his bill was to address affordability and preserve Colorado residents’ ability to ‘heat their homes while putting food on the table’ – citing rising energy costs as adding to the unaffordability of the state.
Supporters of the bill testifying for the fossil fuel industry said the bill is important for consumer choice.
“The natural gas ban would prevent American families from using a locally produced, cleaner-burning, affordable and reliable source of fuel and jeopardize what they depend on,” said Justin Prendergast, spokesperson for the American Petroleum Institute.
In the Democratic-controlled Legislature, the measure had little hope of being defeated by the committee, but the bill’s message is similar to other Republican attempts to push back against fossil fuel emission reduction policies aimed at to combat climate change.
In late December, Colorado experienced the most destructive wildfire in state history with more than 1,000 homes and businesses destroyed and half a billion dollars in damage. The hell broke out after months of drought and spread rapidly due to dry grasslands surrounding urban developments in an area near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
Experts say similar occurrences will become more frequent as climate change warms the planet and suburbs expand in fire-prone areas. Severe or extreme drought has hit 90% of Boulder County, where there has been no substantial rainfall since mid-summer. In 2020, Colorado experienced its three largest wildfires on record.
Several California cities have already banned the use of natural gas in newly constructed buildings. Similarly, a budget proposal from Washington Governor Jay Inslee envisions phasing out natural gas, starting with new construction in 2034.
But in Kansas, where Republicans control the Legislature, last year they approved the Kansas Energy Choice Act – similar to the Colorado bill – which prohibits cities, counties or other local governments from taking action to ban natural gas or propane service to consumers or to limit such service. It came after the liberal town of Lawrence in northeast Kansas, home to the main campus of the University of Kansas, adopted a plan to switch to all renewable energy in the future.
While most Democratic lawmakers opposed the measure, Republicans have supermajorities in both chambers and a veto by Democratic Governor Laura Kelly likely would have been overruled. She let it become law without her signature.
Scientists say a cut in carbon emissions is needed to prevent average global temperatures from exceeding 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) by the year 2100.
President Joe Biden has pledged to at least halve US greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, along with $550 billion in spending and tax credits to promote energy own in his Build Back Better plan, which was shelved due to a lack of support from moderate Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin.
Nieberg is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative body. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues.