The Local newsletter is your free, daily guide to life in Colorado. For locals, by locals. Sign up today!
The Centennial State has often been cited as one of the country’s bright spots when it comes to enacting environmental regulations. Yet, Colorado’s eco-activists have continually expressed disappointment at what they see as a discrepancy between what Governor Jared Polis has promised and what he’s delivered.
For this issue’s story, “Governor Polis Has Said He Wants to Battle Climate Change. Colorado Environmentalists Don’t Believe Him”, writer Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan dived into the morass, looking to determine if Polis had truly earned their ire. What she found likely will not quell the outrage; however, activists may have to rethink who the enemy really is based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s much-discussed ruling on June 30. The decision—which curtailed the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate coal-fired power plants, which are this country’s largest source of carbon emissions—delivered a blow to environmentalists by essentially renouncing any universal regulatory efforts to deal with climate change.
In Colorado, the largest electric utility is Xcel Energy, which in 2021 reported that coal still made up 32 percent of its local energy mix. Now, I’m not a lawyer. And I’m not a climatologist. In fact, I’m the granddaughter and great-granddaughter of West Virginia coal miners. But even I understand that the SCOTUS ruling puts added pressure on state legislatures and, yes, governors to battle the planet’s impending ecological catastrophe, because the U.S. Congress is ill-equipped to help Americans with, well, pretty much anything these days.
In the absence of federal guidance, state leadership will have to step up.
That will be difficult in a state where large parts of the economy are based on outdoor recreation, tourism, and extractive industries. “The climate crisis is here, but politicians won’t act unless they know the people have their backs,” Kwak-Hefferan says. “That means public support for environmental policy has never been more important.”