Conservative Denver Post columnist Vince Carroll Wednesday underlined a move by new state House GOP leadership to do away with the energy part of the House Transportation and Energy Committee, a move meant to signal a priority shift away from efforts to bolster clean energy development in the state. Carroll wondered why the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) continues to back Gov. Bill Ritter’s “New Energy Economy” despite the diminished threat of a federal carbon tax or cap and trade system.
Pointing out that Pres. Obama last week all but gave up on comprehensive climate change legislation next session, Carroll argues the PUC need no longer concern itself with emissions from aging coal-fired power plants because any attempt to do so amounts to a stealth carbon tax.
Acknowledging that the EPA, under a court-imposed mandate to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, will continue to do just that starting next year, regardless of federal inaction on climate change, Carroll points out that those new rules will only impact new facilities, not Colorado’s aging fleet of coal plants.
He writes that the PUC should give up on the Clean Air Clean Jobs Act despite its bipartisan support and the fact that the ACT creates local markets for cleaner-than-coal Colorado natural gas. Any stealth carbon tax, he argued, is a finger on the scale in favor of solar and wind over cheaper conventional fossil fuels.
Yet Clean Air Clean Jobs is actually a finger on the scale in favor of cleaner burning natural gas. Carroll also fails to mention massive federal and state tax subsidies doled out to the gas industry and to Colorado’s coal-mining industry.
Should those stealth taxes be eliminated as well in order to shrink staggering state budget deficits? Or would that force those industries out of the state the way Carroll would force out the burgeoning alternative energy industries Colorado voters have repeatedly supported?
Carroll doesn’t mention the Front Range brown cloud and its health and economic impacts. Nor the state’s outdoor recreation and tourism industries that benefit from less-industrialized vistas.
How long will people come visit from New York and New Jersey if Colorado increasingly looks like… New York and New Jersey?