Colorado Governor Jared Polis and a state environmental agency are facing a new lawsuit filed by an environmental advocacy group arguing the government failed to meet a legally required deadline to issue rules for reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions as mandated by statute.
The lawsuit, filed July 9 in Denver County District Court by the group WildEarth Guardians, seeks to compel Colorado regulators into action on meeting the state’s climate targets. Those emissions reduction targets are outlined in a bill signed into law last year, including a 26 percent cut in emissions by 2025, 50 percent cut by 2030, and 90 percent reduction by 2050. A related bill also signed into law last year includes a deadline of July 1, 2020 for the state to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking for measures that would allow the state to meet its targets. WildEarth Guardians says the state has not met this deadline and claims this failure is “arbitrary and capricious” and unlawful under the statute.
“The rapidly worsening climate crisis and Defendants’ inaction to address Colorado’s contribution to the crisis will harm Guardians’ interests in clean air, clean water, wildlife, intact ecosystems, and a livable planet,” the complaint argues. Defendants include Governor Polis (a Democrat), the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, and two subdivisions of that agency – the Air Quality Control Commission and the Air Pollution Control Division.
The complaint notes that the state has taken a few steps towards reducing emissions, including finalizing rules on zero emission vehicles and regulating hydrofluorocarbons as well as revising oil and gas control measures. But these initiatives fall short of actions needed to meet the 2030 target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent, the complaint argues. WildEarth Guardians says it obtained an email sent to a Colorado citizen by the Air Pollution Control Division acknowledging that those measures “are not sufficient in and of themselves to reach the greenhouse gas emissions reduction milestones set forth [in statute].”
WildEarth Guardians further argues that failure to meet the July 1 deadline and allegedly delaying climate action will be most harmful to disadvantaged communities in the state like low-income families and communities of color.
“The failure of the Polis administration to live up to legally binding climate obligations means the state is not achieving environmental justice,” WildEarth Guardians’ Jeremy Nichols said in a press release.
“When it comes to confronting the climate crisis, time is of the essence,” Nichols added. “We can’t afford any missed deadlines or footdragging. It’s time for Governor Polis to step up, be a leader, and put the state on course for urgent action that sets a model for other states and nations and puts Colorado at the forefront of advancing solutions that truly confront the climate crisis.”