Bill Makes Progress on Environmental Justice, but Colorado Must Step Up Action to Beat the Climate Crisis

EDF Statement by Pam Kiely, Associate Vice President of U.S. Climate

June 8, 2021
Chandler Green, (803) 981-2211,

(Boulder, Co — June 8, 2021) With a final vote today, the Colorado House of Representatives sent an amended version of HB21-1266 (“Environmental Justice Disproportionate Impacted Community)” to the Governor’s desk. The legislation establishes an enhanced framework for improving environmental justice outcomes in Colorado, including by strengthening air pollution monitoring and centering equity in decision-making through the creation of a task force with robust community representation.

As amended, the bill also includes some limited climate provisions designed to provide further direction to the Air Quality Control Commission as it implements existing state law requiring the adoption of regulations to cut climate pollution 26% by 2025, 50% by 2030 and 90% by 2050 below 2005 levels. While the further direction on industrial and oil and gas sector emissions represents some progress, a huge responsibility remains for the Air Quality Control Commission to fully and comprehensively address their clear obligation under existing Colorado law to cut pollution at the pace and scale consistent with scientific recommendations.

“With important leadership from the legislature, HB21-1266 makes progress on Colorado’s mandate to address air pollution in disproportionately-impacted communities. Yet even with the passage of this bill, Colorado remains far off track from achieving its science-based climate goals. As intensifying climate impacts threaten Colorado’s communities and economy, the Air Quality Control Commission has a responsibility to implement existing law and adopt a comprehensive set of regulations that meets the urgency of the climate crisis,” said Pam Kiely, Associate Vice President of U.S. Climate at EDF.

Colorado is far off track for meeting its 2025 and 2030 targets for reducing climate pollution. According to EDF’s analysis of the amended bill, these new provisions will not get the state back on course:

  • Nearly half (48%) of Colorado’s greenhouse gas emissions are not covered by the new provisions, leaving pollution sources such as fossil fuel use untouched by the bill’s new sectoral targets.
  • While Colorado is required to slash pollution across the economy by at least 26% by 2025, the state is currently projected to achieve only a 13% reduction. Despite the urgency, the legislation only outlines a specific 2025 reduction requirement for one sector — which is not sufficient to close the gap.
  • This lack of near-term action could result in roughly 100 million metric tons of additional climate pollution over the upcoming decade.

# # #

One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund ( creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 2.5 million members and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys and policy experts are working in 28 countries to turn our solutions into action. Connect with us on Twitter @EnvDefenseFund