Representing Colorado and Our Clean Energy Future

Representing Colorado and Our Clean Energy  Future

In Colorado, we have our own way of doing things. We are innovative, collaborative, and we care deeply about our land, water, and air. With regard to climate change, we are leaders in protecting our planet for future generations. Guided by Governor John Hickenlooper and the hard work from leaders here in Colorado, we developed the framework that the Obama Administration adopted for regulating methane emissions from oil and gas development.

Recently, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt started a process to scrap this federal framework, jeopardizing the quality of our land, air, and water—because emissions from other states affect us here in Colorado. In response, a number of State Attorneys General have stepped up to challenge Pruitt’s actions. Our current Colorado Attorney General is not one of them. Because of her lack of leadership on this issue, Governor Hickenlooper filed yesterday–using private lawyers because Attorney General Coffman refused to represent our state–a motion to join this lawsuit.  Because we need our Attorney General to protect our land, air, and water and to work with national and state leaders on this imperative, I am running to be our State’s next Attorney General.  

A Colorado Success Story

The Colorado rules for methane emissions in oil and gas development offer a case study in innovative and principled leadership. Here’s how Newsweek described the Colorado rules:

In 2014, Colorado became the first state to regulate methane emissions from oil and gas drilling, with the goal of shrinking its carbon footprint and improving local air quality. While a couple industry trade groups fought the rules, some producers, including Encana, Devon Energy and Anadarko, supported the measures. They even helped write the rules with the state and the Environmental Defense Fund. A couple years in, even the trade groups agree that the rules are reasonable and effective. This is about as close as the environmental regulatory world ever gets to kumbaya.

These rules were rightly celebrated, and they provided the template for the EPA’s national rules. They’ve also led to tremendous results. As Newsweek reported, methane leakage has dropped by 75 percent since they were adopted and many producers (seven out of 10) have concluded that the benefits of the rule outweighed the costs (because recaptured methane can be sold).

Why Colorado Benefits from the EPA Rules

Colorado benefits if the EPA rules stay in place for two reasons. First, because pollution travels across state lines, and methane becomes well-mixed in the atmosphere, Colorado cannot protect its land, air, and water by acting alone. If other states don’t follow these rules, Coloradans will suffer the consequences. Indeed, in Colorado’s filing to join the lawsuit brought by other State Attorneys General, it explained that ⅔ of all pollution in the state comes from sources outside our state.  Second, Colorado companies benefit from the EPA rules because they level the playing field with out-of-state businesses. Without the EPA rules in place, Colorado companies face a disadvantage by competing with those who don’t have to comply with rules as effective as ours.

Even though the national EPA rules protect Coloradans and help Colorado companies, our Attorney General challenged them in court (over Governor Hickenlooper’s fervent objection) when President Obama spearheaded these rules. The rules survived that lawsuit, but they are now threatened by EPA Administrator Pruitt, who is looking for ways to undo them. He recently waived the requirement—without any explanation—that companies come into compliance with regulations governing new oil and gas operations by June 3, 2017.  Ignoring the powerful rationale for keeping them in place, Pruitt has proposed a two-year suspension on the rules to allow the EPA time to reconsider them.  In instituting the suspension, the EPA itself acknowledged that the risk posed “by this action may have a disproportionate effect on children.”

Environmental groups and a number of State Attorneys General are challenging EPA Administrator Pruitt’s actions in delaying the rules as illegal and Governor Hickenlooper has hired private counsel to join this lawsuit. Given Colorado’s interest in defending these rules, our Attorney General should lead this effort rather than force our Governor to hire private counsel at additional cost to the State. Cynthia Coffman, however, in line with her other decisions that undermine our Governor’s collaborative and innovative leadership, has refused to join the State Attorneys General who are challenging Pruitt’s actions and has refused to work with our Governor to represent Colorado’s interests.

What You Can Do

In November 2018, you will have the opportunity to elect an Attorney General who puts Colorado’s interests first. Please join my campaign for attorney general to elect a leader who is committed to protecting our land, air, and water.