Ritter rolls out climate plan | AspenTimes.com

Ritter rolls out climate plan

Steven K. Paulson
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” Gov. Bill Ritter rolled out a wide-ranging plan to fight global warming Monday that includes a move toward clean-car standards, reducing major utilities’ emissions by 20 percent and phasing in mandatory pollution for major greenhouse gas producers.

He said much of the plan will rely on financial incentives and regulation by such state agencies as the Air Quality Control Commission to enforce it.

Ritter said it is too early to discuss how much it will cost, or where the state will find the money.

Ritter said most of the plan can be implemented by executive order and will not require legislation.

“Climate change is our generation’s greatest environmental challenge. It threatens our economy, our Western way of life and our future,” he said in a speech at Coors Field. “It will change every facet of our existence, and unless we adapt to it, the results will be catastrophic for years to come.”

Ritter said he chose the baseball park to unveil his program because it has a 9.89-kilowatt solar array that provides powers one of its scoreboards.

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The plan won support from some of the state’s biggest industries that would be affected, including major utilities, tourism and agriculture.

Industry representatives said they were already working on plans to reduce greenhouse gases and fight global warming.

Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz said his company has offset its energy use 100 percent with renewable energy and will begin replacing snowmobiles with less-polluting models.

“We believe protecting the environment and the economy are not mutually exclusive,” he said.

However, a group representing Colorado car dealers warned their industry would suffer if Ritter relies on the Air Quality Control Commission to set tougher standards rather than offering incentives, as Ritter is doing to other industries.

“Rather than force the public into cars that are far too small or those that do not have enough power to climb Colorado’s mountainous terrain, it would be much more effective to incentivize Coloradans to move into newer, cleaner cars,” said Tim Jackson, president of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association.

“Sales or income tax rebates or reductions could help offset the cost of newer vehicles, moving more of Colorado’s driving public to cleaner vehicles. A new car is a clean car,” he said.

The governor said he plans to give automakers one to two years to meet new standards.

Ritter said he believes the state can cut emissions by 20 percent by 2020, and he believes the state can increase that goal to 80 percent by 2050.

He also ordered state employees to reduce solid waste by 75 percent by 2020. He said the state could have a paperless budget in a few years.

Ritter warned the consequences could be serious if global warming continues, including warmer and shorter winters, thinner snowpack and early runoff.

“I have no doubt that we can turn the challenges we face into opportunities, keep our economy strong and vibrant and preserve Colorado’s environment for our children and our grandchildren,” he said.