Colorado is falling behind on its mandate to cut greenhouse gases

New state assessment shows big gaps in goals for transportation emissions and lag in finalizing closures of fossil fuel power plants

Michael Booth
The Colorado Sun
Interstate 70 traffic seen on Thursday, April 21, 2022, near Denver.
Hugh Carey/Colorado Sun

Colorado has fallen alarmingly behind statutory goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions for 2025 and 2030, state officials show in a new progress assessment, prompting clean air advocates to renew calls for more aggressive action on consumer and business driving habits and a shift to transit spending. 

The projected gap is widest in transportation, where state estimates put 2025 carbon dioxide emissions essentially unchanged from current levels if stronger new policies are not added. State air pollution control officials have estimated Colorado needs to cut 10 million tons of annual carbon emissions from transportation to meet legislated goals of 26% cuts from 2005 levels by 2025. 

“We have a pretty big gap,” Air Quality Control Commission member Elise Jones said in response to the state progress report to the commission. “It seems we need to double down on transportation.”

“Everything needs to be on the table,” responded Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment climate change program director Clay Clarke, who presented the progress report to the commission. 

While Colorado is lauded nationally for scheduling aggressive closures of coal-fired plants in the largest emissions sector, power generation, those closures may need to be sped up even further for the state to meet the greenhouse gas goals, critics noted. An analysis of the new progress report by Western Resource Advocates shows a gap of 1.3 million annual tons of carbon emissions in projections for 2025. 

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