Ritter orders reports to keep tabs on Colorado greenhouse gas emissions | AspenTimes.com

Ritter orders reports to keep tabs on Colorado greenhouse gas emissions

Colleen SlevinThe Associated PressAspen, CO Colorado

DENVER Gov. Bill Ritter wants to force big polluters to report their greenhouse gas emissions and draw up a plan to reduce emissions from cars to meet his goal of cutting the state’s overall emissions by 20 percent by 2020.Ritter signed an executive order Tuesday directing the state health department to start drafting the regulations in the next 24 months, one of three orders he issued fleshing out the climate change plan he released last fall. The order also says that the state needs to evaluate whether the state should allow any new conventional coal-fired power plants to be built and asks the department to make recommendations on alternatives within the next year.Ritter is also setting up a program to allow farmers and ranchers to earn money for practices that help keep carbon compounds in ground and reduce fertilizer and methane emissions. He also established a 30-member panel to advise him on climate change.Ritter said climate change stands to hurt the state’s economy, including tourism, but that Colorado has an opportunity to be a leader in coming up with solutions because of its abundance of sun and wind but also brain power. He cited the 43 Colorado scientists who shared in the Nobel Prize with former Vice President Al Gore for their work on global warming.”It’s incumbent upon us in the West to show leadership,” Ritter said a ceremony in the garden outside the Governor’s Residence timed to coincide with Earth Day. Packages of insulation were lined up before the podium to help promote new rebates for people who insulate their homes.Ritter acknowledged that the Bush administration has blocked California from imposing its own more restrictive auto emissions but said Colorado should still look at creating a proposal of its own to reduce tailpipe emissions. In coming up with the proposal, the order requires the health department to consider vehicle costs, high altitude driving conditions, and the potential short and long-term cost savings for consumers.Ritter said he couldn’t provide any details about how such a plan could potentially affect drivers because the plan hasn’t been drafted yet.Tim Jackson of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association said his group has talked to the Ritter administration about the idea but wants one national standard regulating emissions on new cars instead. He said the state would be better off focusing on getting the worst polluters, cars from the 1980s and 70s, off the road. His trade group is setting up a foundation to dispose of old cars and allow the owners to get a tax deduction for giving up their old cars.”This will have a much more definitive impact than anything the state can do on new cars,” Jackson said.So far state government and 12 Colorado companies have volunteered to share their emissions with The Climate Registry, a group composed of 38 states as well as some Canadian provinces and Mexican states who want to track emissions. Colorado’s members include two of its largest utilities, Xcel Energy and Tri-State Generation & Transmission, as well as two large energy companies, Shell and Suncor Energy, which owns an oil refinery in Denver.Colorado’s 12 member companies means the state is second to California in participation in the registry, said Heidi Vangenderen, Ritter’s senior adviser on climate change and energy. She said negotiations continue with other companies but she declined to disclose which ones. Other oil and gas companies and large manufacturers could be among the “major sources” of pollution the Department of Public Health and Environment has been ordered to draw up reporting requirements from, she said.Dan Grossman, the regional director of Environmental Defense, praised Ritter for taking steps to fight global warming but said that many of his initiatives won’t have a real impact until there’s a national cap on carbon emissions, which would force polluters to trade credits to offset their emissions, such as from farmers.”The real work is in front of us. Some of it will be here and some of it will be in Washington and some of it is international,” said Grossman, a former state senator from Denver.

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