Trump’s new coal air pollution rules may not affect Colorado much

Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018 4:39 PM
Coal moves along conveyors at the Deseret Power Electric Cooperative Mine northeast of Rangely.

The Trump Administration’s move Tuesday to give states more authority to roll back federal regulations on air pollution from coal-fired power plants may not have much effect on Colorado.

That’s because the Centennial State began its shift away from coal nearly a decade ago, with a state law called the Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act. The law set in motion a move toward more use of renewable energy and natural gas, and away from coal-fired power plants.

“Wildfires burning all over the world – smoke everywhere – and President Trump wants to burn more coal with fewer clean air protections by dropping the Clean Power Plan,” Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, tweeted Tuesday. “Colorado is staying the course, improving air quality and safeguarding our health.”

Rep. Jared Polis, the Democratic nominee for governor, also criticized the president.

“President Trump’s decision is the wrong one for our economy, our planet, public health, and our children’s future,” Polis said in a statement. “With Washington moving in the wrong direction, we need leaders at the state level who will grow our economy while protecting our air and water. As governor, I will preserve our existing standards. And I’ll work to protect our communities from harmful pollution while creating good-paying jobs that can’t be outsourced by promoting clean-energy innovation.”

Republican gubernatorial nominee Walker Stapleton has not yet responded to a request for comment.

In a statement, Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet echoed Polis and the governor.

“In the absence of leadership from Washington, Colorado will continue to reduce our emissions, grow our clean energy economy, and fulfill our obligation to safeguard the environment for the next generation,” Bennet said.

Other prominent Colorado Democrats also criticized the Trump administration’s new rules. “Simply unconscionable,” Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, tweeted. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Arvada, tweeted that the rules would “take us backward.”

Trump’s Affordable Clean Energy Rule replaces the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which would have cut carbon emissions from U.S. power plants by about a third by 2030. In addition to the Clean Air, Clean Jobs act, Colorado is operating under a 2017 executive order from Gov. John Hickenlooper that pledges to reduce emissions.