New Colorado climate bill may be costlier than it says, report finds

State officials in Colorado have billed a new law as a giant step forward toward cutting greenhouse gas emissions and averting the worst consequences of climate change, but a year-old report finds the state…

New Colorado climate bill may be costlier than it says, report finds

State officials in Colorado have billed a new law as a giant step forward toward cutting greenhouse gas emissions and averting the worst consequences of climate change, but a year-old report finds the state is about halfway to meeting its targets.

The law, known as the Clean Energy Works Act, holds companies that operate within the state’s borders responsible for less than 1 percent of statewide emissions. It phases in a system in which some manufacturers will pay to pollute less.

State officials hope that shifting to the program will discourage energy firms from building new plants, and that greenhouse gas emissions won’t rise.

The state’s Division of Air Quality estimates the program will cost businesses about $227 million over a decade but will achieve more than $6.5 billion in cost savings for consumers and the state.

But state workers and the Department of Public Health and Environment, which would administer the program, already have raised doubts about the accuracy of those numbers.

“We’re already starting to see even the well-intentioned [legislators] … working with our environmental analysts to take away the number from the number we just passed,” said Beth McRae, a former climate change and policy official at the state’s air quality agency, who now is an independent consultant.

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