Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Gov. Bill Ritter and a bipartisan group of lawmakers today announced the introduction of the Colorado Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act, which will serve as a national model for reducing air pollution, increasing the use of cleaner energy sources and strengthening the economy. The lead sponsors are Reps. Ellen Roberts (R-Durango) and Judy Solano (D-Brighton) and Sens. Bruce Whitehead (D-Hesperus) and Josh Penry (R-Grand Junction.)

“The Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act will dramatically reduce air pollution and support the growth of homegrown energy, ensuring that cleaner-burning Colorado natural gas works together with renewable energy to keep building our nationally recognized New Energy Economy,” Gov. Ritter said. “This legislation gives us a chance to clean the air in Rocky Mountain National park , to reduce the Brown Cloud and to cut mercury emissions that threaten the health of our children. By crafting this uniquely Colorado solution, this bill also will allow us to comply with looming federal clean air standards.”

A broad coalition including power companies, natural gas producers and conservationists worked with the Governor’s Office and lawmakers to craft the Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act. The bill requires Xcel Energy to sharply reduce air pollutants by retiring, retrofitting or repowering northern Front Range coal-fired power plants by the end of 2017 and replacing them with facilities fueled by natural gas and other low- or non-emitting energy sources, including increased energy efficiency measures.

Xcel Energy would work with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to submit plans by Aug. 15 to the state Public Utilities Commissions to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions at metro area coal plants by 70 percent to 80 percent by Dec. 31, 2017.

Xcel Energy’s plan would include an evaluation of retiring or retrofitting 900 megawatts of coal-fired capacity, giving primary consideration to replacing or repowering those plants with natural gas, renewable energy and other lower-emitting resources.

“I’m honored to co-sponsor this bipartisan bill,” Sen. Whitehead said. “This shows that when we work together we can accomplish great things. On both sides of the aisle we believe in job creation, clean air, and a diverse energy portfolio – and this bill get us there.”

“As a legislator from Southwestern Colorado , I’ve had significant experience with the challenging issue of meeting federal air emissions standards while protecting our economy along with environmental and public health concerns,” Rep. Roberts said. “This bill presents a proactive and common sense approach to the same challenges now facing the Front Range . It’s only common sense that we better utilize Colorado ’s own natural gas reserves to help the state meet the federal regulatory goals for cleaner air.”

“There are so many reasons I am proud of this bill,” Rep. Solano said. “It’s comprehensive. It’s Colorado-driven. It protects our clean air and it creates jobs, especially in the natural gas industry and renewable energy industries. This groundbreaking proposal will help stabilize utility bills for the people and the businesses of our state.”

The federal Clean Air Act requires Colorado to submit a plan to address regional haze by early next year or the EPA will write its own plan for Colorado . The proposed Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act will allow investor-owned utilities like Xcel Energy to help craft their own plans for how to meet new regional haze guidelines, as well as new mandates for ozone, mercury and carbon dioxide in one comprehensive analysis that will minimize costs and maximize emissions reductions. Also, it will create an economic development opportunity for Colorado ’s homegrown resources such as natural gas, wind and solar.

“Xcel Energy has long supported efforts to address our region’s air quality in a pro-active, uniquely Colorado way; we have established a solid track record of successfully meeting such challenges,” said David Eves, president and CEO for Public Service Co. of Colorado, an Xcel Energy company. “We know that the Rocky Mountain region is experiencing issues with regional haze and ozone, and potentially other emissions issues. This legislation establishes a framework to address these air quality issues in a way that ultimately will be the most cost-effective for our customers, and best for the state of Colorado .”

Also supporting the Colorado Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act:

Pam Kiely, program director, Environment Colorado : “When it comes to tackling the tough questions, it is crystal clear that Colorado has become the state that is supplying the solutions. With strong leadership and pragmatic partnerships, we are forging ahead at breakneck speed to keep Colorado well ahead of the curve. This is a bold win for clear skies and a cleaner energy future.”

Jim Hackett, chairman and CEO, Anadarko Petroleum Corp.: “ Colorado and its leadership have taken a significant step in moving toward cleaner air and a more secure energy future. Clean-burning natural gas provides a solid and affordable answer to enhancing our nation's energy security, addressing federal clean-air initiatives and sustaining economic growth in Colorado and other producing states. The Colorado Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act should serve as a meaningful example for our national leaders in developing a constructive energy policy that balances the environment, energy and the economy.”

Vickie Patton, deputy general counsel, Environmental Defense Fund Rocky Mountain : “This is a mile high home run for healthier air and a prosperous clean energy economy for our children and our families. Republicans and Democrats, power companies and energy producers, doctors and conservationists have worked together to craft this smart clean air solution for Colorado .”

Lem Smith, director, government and regulatory affairs, EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc.: “This collaborative approach among varied interests – gas producers, environmental groups, utilities, the Governor's Office and legislators – sends a national message and provides a template for how to transition to a cleaner energy portfolio. By making greater use of abundant, clean-burning natural gas, produced right here in Colorado , we can enhance air quality and public health protection.”

John Nielsen, energy program director, Western Resource Advocates: “This bill creates a coordinated framework to reduce air pollution in an efficient and cost-effective way. It will result in cleaner air and healthier communities and will further strengthen Colorado 's position as a clean energy leader.”

Tisha Conoly Schuller, president, Colorado Oil & Gas Association: “The natural gas industry is poised and ready to contribute to Colorado ’s clean energy mix with abundant, local natural gas resources. This bill provides the opportunity for Colorado to use a natural gas infrastructure that is in place and operating below capacity to create jobs and increase state and local tax revenues.”

Pete Maysmith, executive director, Colorado Conservation Voters: “This effort will once again make Colorado a leader that others states will follow. By working with a diverse group of stakeholders and elected officials to clean up our air before decisions are dictated from Washington , everyone wins. In an era where too many people are frustrated by too little progress on the key issues of the day, this ground-breaking plan is a breath of fresh air.”

Elise Jones, executive director, Colorado Environmental Coalition: “We’re excited about this great opportunity to clean up Colorado ’s air and protect public health. At the same time, we want to ensure that as we retire our aging coal plants, we turn as much as possible to renewable energy and energy efficiency, and that natural gas development is guided by the strong and balanced protections the state adopted in 2009.”

Roger Singer, regional representative, Sierra Club: “This bill represents a huge step forward in cleaning up Colorado 's air. Replacing decades old coal plants with new, clean energy will reduce harmful pollutants, improve the health of our children and our families, reduce haze and clear up our air.”

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