Common Sense Institute: Colorado’s energy policy should be free of politics

Colorado's energy policy

Common Sense Institute: Colorado’s energy policy should be free of politics

Politics should have no place in Colorado’s energy policy.

A recent report from the Common Sense Institute raises significant concerns about Colorado’s approach to energy policy, especially in light of Governor Jared Polis’ ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets. The report questions the feasibility of these objectives, citing the extensive infrastructure development and technology gaps that would be necessary to achieve them.

The Common Sense Institute’s report critiques policymakers for their heavy focus on electrification while seemingly overlooking the potential risks of power disruptions resulting from new regulations that may not fully consider the essential technology and infrastructure needed to ensure energy reliability.

Despite Colorado’s prioritization of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the report highlights the inadequate consideration of the financial implications of these policy interventions.

While acknowledging the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the report calls for a more balanced perspective. It underscores that Colorado’s contribution to global climate change is relatively small, as evidenced by the state’s ranking as 22nd nationally in CO2 emissions in 2021, amounting to around 85 million metric tons. Consequently, the report suggests that Colorado’s actions alone may not significantly impact climate change but could have a considerable influence on local jobs and energy costs.

The report envisions an ideal energy scenario for Colorado, one characterized by affordability, reliability, and minimal environmental impact. To achieve this vision, the report calls for a shift in how legislators and policymakers perceive energy, emphasizing its role as a crucial force for enabling progress rather than merely viewing it as a necessary evil.

Governor Polis and advocates of transitioning away from fossil fuels argue that such a shift is beneficial for the environment and public health, with the promise of long-term cost savings through the promotion of renewable energy sources. However, critics argue that this transition is occurring too rapidly, potentially imposing financial burdens on both individuals and businesses. They advocate for maintaining a diversified energy portfolio that includes both fossil-fired and renewable energy sources, citing enhanced reliability and sustainability.

The Common Sense Institute’s report offers several recommendations for reconsidering emissions policy, emphasizing the need for a more comprehensive, balanced approach. The institute suggests transitioning from a singular focus on greenhouse gas reduction to a “net zero” approach, which assesses both emissions reduction and its economic effects while safeguarding Colorado’s economy and residents. This approach would permit continued use of fossil fuels while incorporating appropriate offsets and greenhouse gas capture.

To guide this shift in policy, the institute proposes a five-factor framework test that evaluates whether regulatory benefits outweigh their costs, takes unintended consequences into account, and weighs potential trade-offs. Additionally, it suggests the establishment of a non-partisan commission responsible for evaluating legislative proposals related to energy and climate. The aim is to depoliticize the process and foster a more balanced, evidence-based approach to energy policy.

In conclusion, the Common Sense Institute’s report underscores the necessity of a comprehensive and balanced approach to Colorado’s energy policy. While recognizing the value of greenhouse gas reduction, it emphasizes the need to consider broader economic and technological factors. The suggested net-zero policy offers a pragmatic and balanced path forward, addressing both environmental concerns and the state’s economic well-being.

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