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Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on Tuesday committed the state to increased climate-related actions, agreeing to join the U.S. Climate Alliance formed in June after President Trump announced the country would withdraw from the international climate accord reached in late 2015 by nearly 200 nations.
In addition to a series of phased goals for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through 2030, Hickenlooper has tasked state agencies to implement programs to reduce emissions overall and specifically cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the electric generation sector.
"We can no doubt address climate change while keeping a priority on household budgets," Hickenlooper said.
"Appropriate state agencies shall work strategically with any interested electric utilities or cooperatives that, on a voluntary basis, would like to maximize their use of renewable energy, while maintaining reliability and without increasing costs to customers," according to the executive order.
The order sets goals of reducing GHG emissions by more than 26% from 2005 to 2025; cutting CO2 emissions from the electric sector 25% by 2025 and 35% by 2030, respectively, from 2012 levels; and reducing overall electricity use by 2% by 2020.
Among the agencies designated to achieve the goals are the Colorado Energy Office, Regional Air Quality Council and the Department of Public Health and the Environment. Hickenlooper also specified work by the state economic development/international trade office and the labor/employment office.
The state’s leading industry energy group said natural gas would help in achieving the goals Hickenlooper laid out.
"Colorado’s abundant, affordable and cleaner-burning natural gas has a vital role to play in any plan to reduce carbon and greenhouse gases, and we’ve already seen huge gains in that regard in our state and country," said Dan Haley, president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.
Natural gas is expected to continue playing a "critical role" in Colorado's energy future, and in any effort to reduce emissions, without burdening consumers, according to Haley.
"Working in partnership with bipartisan mayors and stakeholders, Gov. Hickenlooper has charted a path to cleaner energy and less air pollution that will protect the health of Colorado's families and strengthen our economy," said Environmental Defense Fund’s Dan Grossman, Rocky Mountain regional director. "Expanding clean energy will bring enormous economic opportunity to our state."