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Rocky Mountain Chapter

Legislative Update

By Mary Coday Edwards

Chair, RMC Legislative Committee


Mary Edwards

Mary Coday Edwards

Good news! Another bad bill bites the dust! HB13-1018, introduced by Rep. Don Coram of House District 58 and referred to as the “glowing roads” bill at the Capitol, would have allowed for the drilling industry to sell its radioactive blowback water for dust suppression on Colorado’s county roads. Running into problems immediately, it was amended to allow for a task force to study the “beneficial use” of such water – a task force with the deck stacked toward industry. Fortunately, we were able to get this bill and its amended version “postponed indefinitely” before it left Committee, effectively killing the bill for this session.

When bills such as 1018 are introduced, you have to wonder just whose interests a legislator has in mind. Obviously radioactive material leeching into Colorado’s waterways isn’t exactly a healthy additive for the state’s citizens or its natural environment. And forcing an industry to pay for the subsequent medical expenses for a sick community and ecosystem cleanup costs meets with minimal success – if any. So, once again, that leaves the oil and gas industry as the primary beneficiary of not just increased profit, but also taxpayer dollars. Where’s the justice in this, Rep. Coram?

Other legislature relevant to the fossil fuel industry is slowing being introduced. In general, we support SB13-202, on increasing the number of inspectors for oil and gas operations. However, how these inspectors will be paid hasn’t been addressed – an ongoing thorn of contention whenever this topic is broached. By the time you’re reading this, we expect to see at least six to eight more bills, including RMC’s bill to close the setback loophole on abandoned wells. Keep abreast of legislature and RMC’s positions by checking out our Legislative Tracker at http://rmc.sierraclub.org/tracker.shtml.

The Legislative Committee has also endorsed an upcoming bill to create a Renewable Thermal Standard for Colorado.  Our state's current renewable energy standard is really only a renewable electric standard, leaving out the 42% of Colorado's energy used for hot water and space heating.  

Solar thermal panels look similar to solar PV panels on the roof, but instead of converting the sun's energy to electricity, they convert it to heat in a liquid medium that provides a home's or building's hot water and/or space heat. Colorado also has rich renewable geothermal resources to harvest. If successful, the law would be especially helpful for Coloradans who heat with electricity or with propane, which are both very expensive. While the topic has garnered support at all political levels, the funding mechanism has yet to be resolved before the bill is introduced.

The bill is still collecting the support it needs to be successful. If you'd like to help assure that it passes, go to ColoradoRTS.org and add your name.  Organizations can also sign up (HOAs, faith groups, businesses, volunteer and nonprofit groups). You can also easily find out who your state representative and state senator are at the website, to let them know about your support.  Governor Hickenlooper also needs to hear from CRES members about the importance of having a Renewable Thermal Standard for Colorado.  You can also use Facebook and Twitter from the website to invite your friends to do the same. 

To contact your legislator on any matter, go to http://votesmart.org/. Legislators at the Sierra Club/Audubon Legislative Forum stressed how much your opinion matters to them; they want to hear from you, they want to see you in person. However, remember that to speak for the Club, please contact the Legislative Committee first so we all speak with the same voice and in conjunction with the policies of SC National, thus presenting a unified and professional front.

 

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