Colorado House Democrats to lead committee, hearings on climate change

Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 9:17 PM

The heat under the issues of energy production and climate change won’t cool down this session, as indicated by a move last week by House Speaker Crisanta Duran.

Duran created the House Select Committee on Climate Responsibility to be led by Rep. Chris Hansen, D-Denver, who has a doctorate degree in economic geography, and to hold hearings, joined by two yet-to-be-named Republican members. Speaker Duran appointed Democratic Reps. Faith Winter of Westminster and Jeni Arndt of Fort Collins.

The first hearing will be March 7.

“Climate change threatens our Colorado way of life and our state must continue to lead on climate action,” Duran said in a statement. “Colorado has a huge interest in addressing this challenge, so I’m proud to announce the creation of the Select Committee on Climate Responsibility.”

Trump administration rollbacks on climate regulations means the issue will loom large over this year’s elections, and this is just the latest move around those issues at the Capitol. The Democratic-led House already has passed Rep. Joe Salazar’s bill to raise the bar on oil and gas operations for environmental, public safety and property rights concerns, though it’s sure to be killed in the Republican-led Senate.

Last year the Senate GOP established a select committee to hold hearings more favorable to the fossil fuels industry, and Senate Democrats have Sen. Matt of Louisville driving similar, albeit politically doomed, legislation.

“The science of climate change is indisputable, and its harmful effects will continue to impact our economy and inflict environmental damage,” Hansen said. “I look forward to providing a forum that will help kick-start the solutions to the monumental challenges we face as a state.”

Amelia Myers, the energy advocate for Conservation Colorado, the state’s largest environmental group, applauded the move, “especially as the Trump Administration continues to deny climate change, it’s critical that the state has this conversation.”

“Coloradans love our open vistas, rushing rivers, and wild places; there is no greater threat to them than climate change,” Myers said. “It’s time that we really wrestle with the policy solutions that Colorado needs to reduce our carbon pollution and ensure our grandchildren and their grandchildren can enjoy the Colorado we all love.”