Colorado Governor Joins Paris Agreement Via Executive Order
Following pressure from environmental activists, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) announced today that Colorado would join a coalition of states that have committed to achieving the goals of the Paris climate agreement.
The goal is to “maintain a strong oil and gas industry and reduce emissions to help keep those fuels globally competitive while at the same time cleaning our air and cleaning our water,” Hickenlooper said at a press conference today. The executive order he signed sets the same targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state as those outlined in the international climate accord. Other states in the “Climate Alliance” that have signed similar pledges include New York and California.
Hickenlooper credited the availability of affordable natural gas in supporting renewable energy. Cheap natural gas is a “remarkably good fuel to partner with wind and solar – the wind doesn’t blow all day and the sun doesn’t shine all night,” the governor said. “Innovations in recovering natural gas are going to keep that price low for, I think, the foreseeable future,” he continued. “That’s a big part of what allows us to have more wind and more solar.”
Last month, the governor expressed concerns about joining the “Climate Alliance,” characterizing the “ambitious” Paris targets as a “big leap for most states, and a big leap for Colorado.”
Gov. Hickenlooper had faced pressure from environmental activists, including California billionaire Tom Steyer, to join the “Climate Alliance.” The governor “can solidify his role as a clean energy leader nationally by joining other strong governors in the U.S. Climate Alliance,” read a campaign page for NextGen Climate, Steyer’s political action committee that had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars last year in Colorado in a failed campaign to put Democrats in full control of the state legislature.
Following Hickenlooper’s announcement today, Steyer released a statement applauding the governor for taking a “crucial step to move Colorado forward and stand up to the Trump Administration.” Steyer’s statement prompted Colorado Mining Association President Stan Dempsey to criticize Hickenlooper for “responding to pressure from California billionaires.”
Other groups in the state expressed reservations about the executive order signed today. Mike Kopp, president and CEO of Colorado Concern, a policy and lobbying organization representing business interests in the state, told Denver Business Journal that business leaders felt blindsided by the executive order.
“The creation of this executive order seems to indicate a significant reversal in the administration’s approach to achieving a balanced energy policy,” Kopp said. “The governor has built a well-deserved legacy of safeguarding the state’s energy policy from rank politicization. A one-sided approach, however, could be hurtful to our state’s strong economic progress.”