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Senate Democrats Take Strong Action on Climate

Approve Landmark Legislation to Protect Environment & Support Disproportionately Impacted Communities

DENVER, CO - Today, Senate Democrats passed a bill on third reading and final passage that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enhance environmental justice in disadvantaged communities, and set Colorado on a pathway to meeting the climate targets established in HB19-1261

The bill, HB21-1266, sponsored by Senators Faith Winter & Janet Buckner, was strengthened with amendments to direct more resources to communities in transition away from fossil fuels, increase the focus on disproportionately impacted populations, set firm enforcement mechanisms for the electricity, oil & gas, and industrial & manufacturing sectors, and advance environmental justice in executive branch rulemakings.

“Although this bill has been on a long journey, our aim from the beginning was to put the pollution reduction targets from the Governor’s Climate Roadmap into law,” said Senator Winter (D-Westminster). “This bill takes vitally important steps to hold  our state accountable to our climate targets, creating meaningful and lasting measures to support those most affected by the impacts of global warming.”

“Today is a historic day for Colorado, as we pass landmark legislation to tackle the climate crisis, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and protect the most vulnerable and marginalized Coloradans,” said Senator Buckner (D-Aurora). “With this important bill, we can build a sustainable future that supports the health and well-being of our residents, regardless of zip code, as well as the longevity of our environment and precious natural resources. Our efforts to act on climate do not stop here, but this is a major step in the right direction.”

Specifically, the bill advances environmental justice by eliminating the polluter pay loophole that exempts greenhouse gas emissions from pollution fees, creating an independent ombudsperson that reports directly to the Department of Public Health & Environment, allowing pollution penalties to be invested back into disproportionately impacted communities. 

In addition, the bill establishes the Environmental Justice Action Task Force – consisting of members from local communities, tribal governments, government agencies, and organizations – to determine how Colorado will embed equity in all environmental decision-making, including rulemakings, policy development, and facility permitting.

In order to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, the bill establishes clear enforcement mechanisms for the reduction of greenhouse gases in the electricity sector – requiring the oil and gas sector to reduce emissions 48% by 2025 and 60% by 2030, and mandating the industrial and manufacturing sector to reduce emissions at least 20% by 2030.

To support the just transition of fossil fuel communities, the bill requires an audit of best value employment metrics used by the Public Utilities Commission to better understand if this important policy is actually ensuring that clean energy jobs are good jobs and requires the Office of Just Transition to develop a long-term budget based on federal, state, and other funding sources, outlining the resource needs of the office.

Lastly, the bill requires, for the first time, that polluters pay for their climate pollution – closing a loophole that has existed for decades and adding a new provision that requires the social cost of carbon to be included in economic impact analyses at the Air Quality Control Commission. 

HB21-1266 now heads back to the House for final action. To read the bill and find updates regarding its status, visit