Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order that he says will reduce state government’s carbon footprint while saving taxpayer dollars.
Polis touted the order during a press conference this week as a way the government can “lead by example."
Polis’ administration aims to reduce the state government’s greenhouse gas emissions 10 percent (below 2014-15 levels) by 2022-23 with the executive order, which sets goals including a 15 percent reduction in energy consumption per square foot and a five percent increase in the amount of renewable electricity that state government consumes or purchases by 2022-23. It also requires state fleet vehicles to reduce emissions by 15 percent.
“We want to lead by example here in Colorado and cut emissions from our state buildings, our state fleet, really to show that we can save money, contribute to cleaner air,” Polis said.
Polis added that his administration wants “to do everything that we can to show that the state is part of the solution for cleaner air and the climate rather than part of the problem.”
But the executive order’s five percent renewable energy mandate is smaller than what's been set for the private sector, according to Simon Lomax, an energy resources fellow for the free-enterprise Common Sense Policy Roundtable. The order's greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal of 10 percent, while using a different baseline and target year, is also less aggressive than statewide goals set by the legislature earlier this year.
Lomax said the executive order is an example of government requiring more of the private sector than themselves.
“You may agree with the idea of the government directly generating or purchasing more renewable electricity. You may disagree or not have a strong opinion either way,” Lomax said. “But the bigger story here is about government mandates: This executive order is a good example of government officials demanding more of the private economy than they are willing to demand of themselves.”
Legislation from 2010 required investor-owned utilities to get 30 percent of their energy from renewables starting next year, while a 2013 law requires 20 percent of electricity generated by cooperative utilities to come from renewables.
Colorado lawmakers also passed aggressive climate action goals during the last legislative session, which say statewide greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced 26 percent by 2025, 50 percent by 2030, and 90 percent by 2050 (according to 2005 levels).
In addition, Polis signed an executive order requiring the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to develop a zero emission vehicle (ZEV) program. A ZEV standard approved by a state commission in August requires at least five percent of all vehicles sold by automakers in Colorado to be ZEVs by 2023.
The actions are part of the Polis administration’s goal to reach 100 percent renewable energy in the state by 2040.
Polis' press office did not respond to a request for comment.