Hat tip to the dads in our lives and to Colorado’s head Dad, Gov. Jared Polis. Polis led the charge to expand opportunities and protections for Colorado kids and their future. As parents reviewing our state’s recent accomplishments our hearts are full of hope. It’s not just the obvious advancements like full-day kindergarten, which gives all of our kids a leg up, but several new policies helping Colorado’s kids, providing climate safety and security for the next generation.
New legislation signed recently by Polis requires investor-owned utilities to consider the cost of carbon dioxide emissions in electric generation planning. There are many additional costs that need to be taken into consideration beyond power plants and mines when we’re talking about burning coal. Factoring in the cost of carbon means we must consider the impact of carbon pollution on our kids’ health now and in the future.
Another win for our kids, the Climate Action Plan to Reduce Pollution, passed as well. It sets up a science-based framework for reducing our carbon pollution: 50% by 2030 and 90% by 2050. It will be the job of the state of Colorado and agencies like the Air Quality Control Commission to achieve these goals and determine technical and policy tools needed, as well as ensure additional time to secure the input of diverse stakeholders and, importantly, the public. We’ve now been set on a path to success with additional legislation requiring that the AQCC collect greenhouse gas emissions data to know if what we’re doing is working, and by setting up the Just Transition Office to provide planning, training and grants to communities with impacted workers and communities transitioning away from coal.
Air pollution has serious impacts on our health, including asthma attacks, cardiovascular problems, developmental problems and even premature death. Recent studies also show growing evidence that links air pollution to autism. The most vulnerable, including our children, are particularly susceptible to these impacts. Health problems lead to doctor and hospital bills, missed work and school days, and other very real costs to Colorado families. Additionally, carbon pollution leads to climate change, which means higher temperatures, more wildfires, food scarcity, more severe storms and longer droughts. That is not the future we want to leave for our kids.
The American Lung Association recently released their 2019 State of the Air report. Sadly, the report shows that the Denver-Aurora metro area has moved up from the 14th worst in the nation for ozone pollution to 12th. Our dreaded brown cloud has reappeared. Our population has exploded, the number of miles driven on our roads has followed, and the number of active gas wells in our state has more than doubled since 2002, all of which leads to more pollution.
This is all happening against a backdrop of a federal administration that is repealing safeguards for our kids and the air they breathe every day. Despite efforts from some of our federal legislators — most notably Rep. Diana DeGette and her recent bill to address harmful climate pollution and methane waste from the oil and gas industry — we must rely on the states instead to be proactive and protect the future. We are grateful to Polis as well as the state Legislature for taking action toward a healthy climate future for our kids. As the father of two young children, the governor understands how critical it is that we tackle the air and carbon pollution problem and that he, like many of us, are raising our kids in Colorado for the outdoor quality of life.
Those amazing little ones that make us parents are the most important people in our worlds, but they are also the most vulnerable, and it’s our No. 1 job to protect them. This year we can all celebrate that we have elected leaders who will work with us to do so. As dads across the state get breakfast in bed or BBQ with their kids, they can breathe a little easier knowing that fellow dad Gov. Polis and our Colorado leaders are working to address our air quality problems and ensure our kids have a bright future.