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Environmental Justice Disproportionate Impacted Community

Concerning efforts to redress the effects of environmental injustice on disproportionately impacted communities, and, in connection therewith, making an appropriation.
2021 Regular Session
Natural Resources & Environment
Bill Summary

Section 3 of the act defines "disproportionately impacted community" (DIC) as:

  • A community that is in a census block group where the proportion of households that are low income, that identify as minority, or that are housing cost-burdened is greater than 40%; or
  • Any other community as identified or approved by a state agency, if the community: Has a history of environmental racism perpetuated through redlining, anti-Indigenous, anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic, or anti-Black laws; or is one where multiple factors may act cumulatively to affect health and the environment and contribute to persistent disparities.

Section 3 also requires the air quality control commission (AQCC) to promote outreach to and engage with DICs by creating new ways to gather input from communities across the state, using multiple languages and multiple formats, and transparently sharing information about adverse effects resulting from its proposed actions.

Section 4 creates the environmental justice action task force (task force) in the department of public health and environment (department), the goal of which is to propose recommendations to the general assembly regarding practical means to address environmental justice inequities, particularly within DICs. The department will report on the task force's activities during the department's "SMART Act" presentations. The task force will:

  • Hold meetings to solicit public comment concerning the development of a state agency-wide environmental justice strategy and a plan to implement that strategy, including ways to address data gaps and data sharing between state agencies and the engagement of disproportionately impacted communities;
  • Evaluate and propose recommended revisions to the definitions of DIC, "proposed state action", and "agency" and the state agencies and their proposed actions that are subject to section 3; and
  • File a final report by November 14, 2022, regarding its recommendations.

Section 7 requires the AQCC to include greenhouse gas (GHG) in the list of air pollutants required to be reported in an air pollutant emission notice (APEN) and allows the AQCC to require that APENs for GHG report the previous calendar year's emissions of GHG in the form of carbon dioxide equivalent. Section 8 requires the AQCC to adopt rules, including permit processing fees, that apply to permits for sources of pollutants that cause or contribute to significant health or environmental impacts in DICs. Section 9 allows the division of administration in the department to reopen an air permit to add monitoring requirements for sources that affect DICs.

Section 12 creates in the department the position of an environmental justice ombudsperson and directs the ombudsperson to promote environmental justice for the people of Colorado, particularly as an advocate for DICs and as a liaison between DICs and the department. Section 12 also creates in the department the environmental justice advisory board and directs the board to advise the ombudsperson and to develop guidelines for a grant program to fund environmental mitigation projects that avoid, minimize, measure, or mitigate adverse environmental impacts in DICs.

Section 10 requires the AQCC to establish an annual APEN fee for GHG and authorizes the use of the fees to pay for the engagement of DICs required by section 3 and for the ombudsperson position created in section 12. Current law credits air quality fines to the general fund; section 13 creates the community impact cash fund and, over the course of 5 years, credits all of the fines to the fund, which is used to pay for environmental mitigation projects and the environmental justice advisory board.

Section 14:

  • Allows the AQCC to adopt rules that add permit requirements for sources that affect DICs;
  • Directs the AQCC to adopt rules that pursue near-term reductions in GHG emissions, including reducing GHG emissions from electric utilities by at least 48% by 2025 and 80% by 2030, relative to 2005 levls;
  • Directs the division to prepare an annual report that indicates whether GHG emission reduction requirements are being met and, if not, to develop and propose additional requirements to the AQCC;
  • Requires each wholesale generation and transmission electric cooperative to file with the public utilities commission (PUC) and the division an electric resource plan that will achieve at least an 80% reduction of GHG emissions by 2030, relative to 2005 levels;
  • Requires certain electric utilities that serve at least 50,000 Colorado retail customers to either file a clean energy plan with the division or comply with AQCC rules that would require GHG emission reductions of at least 48% by 2025 and 80% by 2030, relative to 2005 levels;
  • Requires the AQCC to adopt rules to reduce GHG emissions from oil and gas exploration, production, processing, transmission, and storage operations by at least 36% by 2025 and 60% by 2030, relative to 2005 levels;
  • Requires the AQCC to adopt rules to reduce GHG emissions from the industrial and manufacturing sector in the state by at least 20% by 2030, relative to 2015 levels; and
  • Authorizes the AQCC to adopt a rule or program that provides for the use of a trading program, including a comprehensive and centralized accounting system to track emissions from the sources that participate in the program.

Section 16 requires that the economic impact analysis for GHG rules must include an analysis of the social cost of greenhouse gases. Section 17 requires that the division make publicly available the data upon which its GHG forecast is based and requires that the forecast include at least one scenario that does not include emission reductions projected to occur pursuant to existing law.

Section 19 requires the just transition office in the division of employment and training in the department of labor and employment to develop a proposed long-term budget to adequately finance the just transition plan relating to the closure of coal-fired electric generation facilities. Section 20 modifies the mission statement for the Colorado energy office, including by adding the goal of supporting Colorado's transition to a more equitable, low-carbon, and clean energy economy and promoting resources that reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, including pollution and emissions from electricity generation, buildings, industry, agriculture, and transportation.

Existing law requires electric utilities to provide best value employment metrics to the PUC when applying for approval of new resource acquisitions. Section 22 requires the state auditor to study the implementation of the best value employment metrics requirement.

To implement the act, section 23 appropriates the following:

  • $2,550,218 from the general fund and the community impact cash fund to the department, of which amount $382,680 is reappropriated to the department of law to provide legal services and $239,642 is reappropriated to the office of the governor for use by the office of information technology to provide information technology services; and
  • $146,703 from the general fund to the office of the governor for use by the Colorado energy office.
    (Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)


Became Law


Bill Text

The effective date for bills enacted without a safety clause is August 7, 2024, if the General Assembly adjourns sine die on May 8, 2024, unless otherwise specified. Details