Public Health Advocate, CoPIRG
Public Health Advocate, CoPIRG
Director, Public Lands Campaign, Environment America
DENVER — Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday engaged Colorado-based organizations in a moderated audience discussion about recent federal investments aimed at tackling climate change. Federal infrastructure bills passed in 2021 and 2022 established significant funding for key initiatives aimed at tackling climate change including electric vehicles and electric school buses, building electrification, and pollution reduction.
CoPIRG and Environment Colorado, two of the groups invited to the event, have been working with state leaders to use these federal funds effectively to advance the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) across the state and to transition Colorado’s buildings to fully electric power, rather than fossil fuels.
Transportation emits more greenhouse gasses than any other sector of the U.S. economy. So, the IRA offers a variety of incentives to accelerate EV adoption, including billions of dollars to be specifically used for purchasing zero-emission electric school buses.
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) also provides significant funding to help Coloradans electrify their homes, which can improve energy efficiency and lower costs in the face of volatile gas prices. The IRA provides $9 billion in consumer home energy rebate programs and 10 years of consumer tax credits to make heat pumps, rooftop solar, electric HVAC and electric water heaters more affordable.
“As the federal government moves forward with ambitious policies to tackle climate change, Environment Colorado and other state groups applaud recent state policies in Colorado that are helping the state accelerate progress towards clean air and water,” said Ellen Montgomery, the director of Environment Colorado’s public lands campaign.
For example, CoPIRG highlighted Colorado’s $65 million investment in transitioning the state’s fleet of mainly diesel school buses to cleaner electric alternatives, improving local air quality and protecting childrens’ health. In recent years, the state has also supported the acceleration of electric vehicle adoption with big investments in electric vehicles and infrastructure, state tax credits, which Gov. Jared Polis announced plans to expand, and by adopting the Zero Emission Vehicle Rule (ZEV). Under ZEV, automakers must increase the minimum percentage of light-duty Zero Emission Vehicles available for sale, thereby expanding Coloradans’ options when buying electric vehicles.
In 2022, Colorado took action to lower energy costs for homeowners and improve energy efficiency by passing HB22-1362, legislation that set new building electrification standards regarding electric, solar, low energy, carbon, and green building codes. The bill also instituted an electric heating and appliances grant program. These types of new programs, both at the state and federal level, modernize building practices in ways that benefit both consumers and public health.
The state has also acted in several other critical areas to support climate reduction and lower costs for consumers, including the Colorado Department of Transportation’s nation-leading greenhouse gas reduction rule, which has diverted money away from highway expansions to increasing public transportation options.
“Colorado is taking smart action to create programs that capitalize on new federal incentives, increasing their impact and helping Coloradans access robust support to reduce their reliance on volatile gas heat and power in buildings and cleaner electric vehicles,” said CoPIRG Public Health Advocate Alex Simon.