This week I spent a good deal of time following the proceedings of the AQCC. After having read most of the GHG Roadmap and the Ozone Reduction SIP (over the course of the last couple of months), I sent in a written comment and also signed up to speak Wednesday night. There was a good turn out, with statements from numerous elected officials including our own County Commissioner, John Kefalas. Some comments were general, some focused on specific aspects of the SIP, but overall it was an hour and a half (I left before all the comments had been completed) of unanimous pleas for the commission to tighten regulations and to be more aggressive in reducing emissions.
The next morning, I rejoined the AQCC zoom meetings to hear the staff response. I sensed there was some disappointment that the public seems to under-appreciate the work that has been done and the progress that has been made. A lot of their presentation was spent detailing the legal and procedural constraints that would make it nearly impossible for them to rewrite the SIP at this late date in order to include all of the alternatives that were being demanded, including the proposed early closings of the three coal generators. There would be several serious consequences to any delay in submitting the SIP to the EPA.
They acknowledged that more needs to be done, and pointed out that there will be opportunities in the future for more revisions.
It was also mentioned that some of the comments received seemed to conflate regulations relating to O&G and those that relate to major sources of emissions that are non-O&G.
Between these two meetings I also had the privilege of participating in an excellent three-night on-line summit hosted by LOGIC. (I know many of you were also in attendance.) Senator Faith Winter was the keynote speaker Wednesday evening and she gave a fabulous tutorial regarding effective advocacy for climate change. From her talk and from the information I gleaned listening in to the AQCC, I have the following take-aways:
1) Not all losses are really losses; the testimony (both written and oral) given to the AQCC will likely bear fruit down the road.
2) We have to get into the game early–staff mentioned that there were numerous opportunities for public comment during the summer when there would have been more time to incorporate alternatives; we have to do our homework, build relationships; and join the process early on.
3) Some of the work must be done legislatively. The AQCC, and other state agencies have to work within the authority given to them by the law. We need to engage more with state legislators, especially those who have shown an interest in developing related legislation.
4) Speaking of building relationships, I honestly believe that our state leadership has made a dramatic shift from pre-2018 days. Getting things done in government and politics is a clunky, ungraceful business, but I think most of the state agencies are making a serious effort to address climate change. They are not moving as fast or as boldly as we need them to, but our encouragement and support will go farther than constant criticism from all sides. Let’s give them credit where credit is due and then assure them that we will have their backs as they push forward.
One final comment regarding Tom Gonzales. I don’t know if he was present for Thursday’s vote, but on Wednesday it was mentioned that he was absent due to his responsibilities as Larimer County Health Director. He has a few other things on his plate right now.