EVRAZ pushes back against climate bill

Peter Roper | April 16, 2019 | The Pueblo Chieftain

HB 1261 calls for 90 percent emission cuts by 2050, but doesn’t say how

As majority Democrats in the Legislature are pushing a climate-change bill aimed at nearly eliminating greenhouse gases, EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel argues the legislation calls for large emission reductions but has no details on how the company or other producers are to get there.

House Bill 1261 was passed by the House on third reading Tuesday. It gives the state’s Air Quality Control Commission the job of creating regulations that will eliminate 26 percent of greenhouse emissions by 2025, 50 percent by 2030, and 90 percent by 2050.

EVRAZ officials said sponsors of the bill aren’t looking at agricultural sources of gas or vehicles, so they are assuming the cuts must come from manufacturers, power plants and other producers.

The Pueblo steelmaker said it is planning a $480 million expansion of its rail-making ability and that HB 1261 creates uncertainty about what Colorado would expect of the company.

“When we’ve tried to find out how this would affect EVRAZ, we’ve been told everything, from it won’t affect us to no one knows yet,” said David Kenney, who has been representing EVRAZ at the state Capitol.

“If you want to make good policy, this isn’t the way to do it,” he said.

As the legislation now moves to the Senate for consideration, EVRAZ officials said they hope the Senate would create a more specific process for drafting greenhouse gas regulations.

“We’ve been working on similar legislation in Oregon for the past two years,” Kenney said. “They are involving all the stakeholders.”

A spokesman for the national Environmental Defense Fund, which is backing the bill, said the measure gives the state air commission the job of bringing EVRAZ and other stakeholders into the process of drafting emission regulations.

“It specifically says to look at what other states are doing as well, like Oregon,” the spokesman said.

Essentially, supporters say the legislation looks out for employers like EVRAZ in the process of developing regulations, though EVRAZ officials say that’s a promise that isn’t reflected in the bill.

“The state’s air quality commission isn’t an elected body,” Kenney said. “This bill puts these emission reductions into statute but turns over the job of making the actual regulations to the commission.”

Kenney said a better approach would be to adopt the emission reductions as goals, then empower a yearlong task force to draw up a plan for making the cuts.

Speaking to The Pueblo Chieftain editorial board Tuesday, Gov. Jared Polis said he would reach out to EVRAZ and discuss its concerns with the bill.