Anti-Fossil Fuel Groups Call For Carbon Tax, California-Style Policies In Report
A report released by a pair of anti-fossil fuel activist groups calling for a carbon tax and concrete carbon reduction levels through the year 2050 was met by skepticism from the state’s mining association.
In their report, Western Resource Advocates and Conservation Colorado, a League of Conservation Voters affiliate, said “state actions are essential” and that Colorado “must embark on an expansive effort to reduce carbon pollution” so the state can move beyond Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper’s climate goals executive order signed in July. Recognizing the limitations of legislative action, the groups recommended state agencies jump into the driver’s seat on many of their proposals.
Suggestions of a carbon tax or cap-and-trade scheme would face significant opposition from the state’s natural resource industry.
“What Conservation Colorado and Western Resource Advocates are advocating is a ‘keep-it-in-the-ground’ strategy, with no regard for ratepayers and the communities that support and depend on the development of those resources,” said Stan Dempsey, President of the Colorado Mining Association.
In July, California billionaire Tom Steyer praised Hickenlooper’s announced executive order after running an online campaign to draft the Colorado politician into the “Climate Alliance” that supports Paris climate targets. Steyer and the League of Conservation Voters have close financial ties.
“Colorado Governor Hickenlooper’s executive order on climate, issued in July of 2017, is a critical step forward for our state,” the groups wrote. “Colorado state agencies, the legislature, cities, and businesses should adopt measures to make the executive order’s ambitious emission reductions a reality.”
The groups express doubt, however, that Hickenlooper’s executive order alone will achieve the goals they seek, proposing instead a laundry list of policy suggestions for the legislature to consider.
“But addressing climate change is a long-term effort, and future governors and legislators should build on the progress to date by establishing emission targets, regulations, and market incentives to drive the deep, long-term pollution reductions needed to safeguard our climate,” the groups said.
Dempsey told Western Wire the wish list of proposals was a catalog of previous policy failures and little more than political posturing.
“Cap-and-trade failed in a Democratic Congress,” Dempsey said. “They want to create a big bureaucracy in a cap-and-trade program and a wish list of where to redistribute carbon tax receipts.”
“They’re not hiding anything now. They want to get rid of fossil fuels,” Dempsey said.
Many political observers consider the environmental proposals dead on arrival, at least through the 2018 Colorado legislative session, where Senate Republicans hold a narrow 18-17 seat lead and would be unsympathetic to proposals like carbon taxes or stepped carbon emission timelines.
Among the legislative proposals included in the “Climate Blueprint” is a reduction in emissions of 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and 90 percent below 2005 levels by 2050, far more aggressive than Hickenlooper’s target of 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
The plan encourages state administrative agencies like the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Air Quality Control Commission to bypass the legislature and adopt California-style fuel economy standards and require zero-emission vehicle sales. The Public Utilities Commission “should advance actions to retire older, coal-fired units and invest in clean energy resources, a modernized grid, and energy efficiency programs.”
For its part, the groups argued that the legislature should extend policies and incentives for electric vehicles that are currently scheduled to sunset over the next five years. Finally, a carbon tax or “cap-and-trade” program of some sort, which the groups dub a “market-based carbon policy,” should accompany other emissions reduction schemes, the groups said.