Commentary

Veto of environmental justice bill would be a broken promise

Gov. Polis said he would lead in facing the existential crisis of our generation. He can do that with SB-200.

May 28, 2021 9:25 am

Viewed from Downtown Denver, smoke colors red the evening sun over the Rocky Mountains on Aug. 13, 2020. The smoke came from the Pine Gulch fire near Grand Junction and the Grizzly Creek fire outside Glenwood Springs. (Andy Bosselman for Colorado Newsline)

As young leaders in Colorado, we have seen first-hand the devastating effects of climate change. We’ve lived through increasingly brutal wildfires, which destroyed homes, made our air quality the worst in the country last summer, and put both rural and urban communities on the front lines.  We need our elected officials to do everything in their power to avert the climate crisis.

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Gov. Jared Polis is failing us all by threatening to veto one of the most important climate bills this legislative session. Senate Bill 21-200, “Reduce Greenhouse Gases, Increase Environmental Justice,” will fine companies that pollute more than the allowed amounts in the governor’s own Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap. Communities need safe air, and this bill gives them more power over toxic neighborhood emissions by creating an ombudsman to investigate complaints — the first step toward environmental justice for Colorado. This bill is critical: Without it, greenhouse gas emissions will continue, and they’re projected to be more than twice our roadmap targets for 2025, showing we can’t rely on industry to moderate themselves.

This is Polis’ chance to keep his promise.

He told us he would pass science-based legislation to meet the needs of Coloradans. He said he’d match actions to the scale of the climate crisis. He claimed he would make Colorado a leader in facing the existential crisis of our generation. We urge the governor not to back down from his promises now and to sign SB-200 when it reaches his desk.

We are watching.

Submitted on behalf of the Sunrise Movement Denver/Boulder Hub.

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