In time for Earth Day, enviro bills moving through state House |

In time for Earth Day, enviro bills moving through state House

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As Earth Day approaches, state lawmakers are taking action on a number of measures aimed at environmental protection. Legislation addressing recycling, water conservation and clean energy all gained support at the state Capitol last week.

Legislation designed to promote development of clean and renewable energy moved through the Colorado House of Representatives with support from Rep. Christine Scanlan (D-Summit County).

Senate Bill 177, sponsored by Scanlan and Sen. Dan Gibbs (D-Summit County), encourages the use of woody biomass for generation of electricity. Using woody biomass could produce clean energy and create demand in the marketplace for timber killed by mountain pine beetles. The bill would ensure biomass technologies are included under programs aimed at expanding clean and renewable energy.

“Colorado needs a viable, competitive timber industry practicing sustainable forestry,” Scanlan said. “This legislation will revitalize the timber industry in Colorado, bringing new jobs and preserving existing ones. With this bill, we are ensuring that we make good use of a clean energy resource that is at our fingertips.”

S.B. 177 passed the full House of Representatives on second reading Friday. A successful vote on third reading would send it to the governor’s desk.

Another bill, also sponsored by Scanlan and Gibbs, would promote development of geothermal energy resources. Senate Bill 174 would make the permitting process more efficient for geothermal energy projects.

“Geothermal is an exciting clean energy movement with the potential to exceed even solar and wind supplying the U.S.’s electricity needs for the future. In fact, the state Capitol will be moving toward it next year for the building’s energy needs,” Scanlan said.

The bill passed out of the House unanimously Monday and awaits action by Governor Ritter.

The House voted Tuesday to approve H.B. 1051, which would require water providers to track and report more extensive data on water conservation efforts.

The House also passed H.B. 1358, which would provide homeowners with more water-efficient home features. Under the bill, builders would be required to offer home-buyers the opportunity to purchase low-flow toilets, high-efficiency washing machines, water-saving irrigation systems and other water-saving products.

“These two critical water efficiency measures are a great step towards ensuring that Colorado has enough water to meet our future needs,” Rep. Randy Fischer (D-Fort Collins) said. “Water is always a controversial issue under the dome, so I appreciate the hard work of the diverse stakeholders who helped to develop this legislation so far.”

Two other water bills have already passed the Senate and House. S.B. 25 extends funding for the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s water efficiency grant program, and H.B. 1204 allows conservation and efficiency measures to be included in the state’s plumbing code.

“We have to develop practical, cost-effective ways to provide all Coloradans with safe, affordable water, while encouraging all of our state’s communities to use every drop wisely,” Sen. Bruce Whitehead (D-Hesperus) said.

Sen. Gibbs is rolling ahead with a bill to tackle discarded automobile tires. The U.S. is home to 128 million waste tires, stored in stockpiles across the country, and Colorado claims 50 million. Colorado ranks third among all states in terms of waste-tire volume, with 14.8 million tons.

According to Gibbs, legal and illegal stockpiles have been growing across the state, since Colorado lacks an effective and efficient scrap tire program.

House Bill 1018 would re-create the state’s waste-tire cleanup fund and also create funds for waste-tire prevention, law enforcement grants and waste-tire market development. The bill would require greater oversight for those who haul waste tires, increased reimbursement for processors and users of waste tires, and expanded safety standards for facilities that keep waste tires.

“This bill will go a long way towards regulating and safeguarding the estimated 50 million waste tires found throughout the state,” Gibbs said.

The average tire contains more than 2 gallons of oil, and tires are susceptible to long and dangerous burns if they catch fire.

“This is a really important bill. If we can make it easier for Colorado to get rid of its tires while creating jobs for people in Colorado, then let’s do it,” Gibbs said.

H.B. 1018 passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee Tuesday.

Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-4630 or

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