Two noteworthy and connected developments in Colorado that readers ought to be aware of:
1) The state's Air Quality Council, a group that reports to state regulators and to Governor Bill Ritter, has been hearing testimony about California's emissions goals and its auto emissions program. As we've reported before, they're seriously considering following the lead of California (and the growing group of other states either following their lead or working towards doing so).
2) The state's focus on auto emissions and on following California's lead could not be more timely, as per statistics disclosed in a new report noting that the state's current pace of sprawling development could moot other efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions. We can't help but notice a passing similarity to the facts on the ground that have driven action around smart growth planning and global warming in the Golden State:
"Colorado is poised to come out with vitally important goals for reducing the state's global warming pollution," said Pam Kiely, land-use advocate with Environment Colorado.
"Even the most stringent policies on reducing carbon emissions will be for naught if we don't start driving down our growth in vehicle emissions."
The report shows that Coloradans drove 47 million miles in 2005, reflecting a 114 percent increase since 1980.
Cutting emissions and car travel will require smart land use, new pollution technologies and energy conservation strategies on both the state and local levels, said Michael Leccese, executive director of the Urban Land Institute Colorado District Council.
The Rocky Mountain News goes on to note that at least one state lawmaker, Rep. Claire Levy (D-Boulder), is contemplating legislation that would link state transportation funding to local governments' land-use planning. That would certainly distinguish Colorado from the strategy that California's Attorney General has been pursuing (Brown has been relying on pressure, and litigation where necessary, under a decades-old state environmental law rather than new regulations). But the discussion and the report it stems from underscore how much of a pressing issue this is fast becoming on a national scope, and the ingenuity that state and local officials are starting to apply.
California is certainly at the epicenter of some of the highest-profile issues related to climate change (particularly in the legal arena), but as these developments demonstrate, it is by no means unique in that focus. While we're not trying to deliberately repeat the same message here two days in a row, the reality that movement to stop global warming inherently is tied to a critical focus on federalism continues to show itself.