Boulder County endorses EPA petition to ban greenhouse gas emissions

Petitioners demand phase out of emissions and restoration of atmosphere through carbon dioxide removal

June 29, 2022
https://www.bouldercounty.org/news/

Boulder County, Colo. — The Boulder County Board of County Commissioners has endorsed a petition asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to phase out greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution under the existing Toxic Substances Control Act. The petition, brought forward by James E. Hansen, Donn Viviani, John Birks, Richard Heede, Lise Van Susteren, Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions, and CPR Initiative, also calls on the EPA to compel oil, gas and coal companies to remove excess “legacy” carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and other GHGs – or else pay into a carbon dioxide removal fund to ensure it is done.

“We continue to see evidence of the climate crisis happening here in Boulder County, and we must take action now,” said Board of County Commissioners Chair Marta Loachamin. “By using existing laws, the EPA has the power to protect our environment and people at increased risk and thereby most impacted by climate change, including children, people living in poverty or who are unhoused, Indigenous and Native communities, and other communities of color.”

“Working to combat the causes and effects of climate change continues to be a priority for Boulder County and its residents,” commented Board of County Commissioners Vice-Chair Claire Levy. “The latest scientific findings, including the most recent United Nations reports from experts across the world, make clear that reducing greenhouse gases and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere needs to happen now, and not in future decades, if we want to protect our planet and our quality of life.”

“The Marshall Fire is a very real and very tragic reminder that the climate crisis is not a matter of opinion,” said Commissioner Matt Jones. “Climate change is already affecting us here in Boulder County and the EPA has the power to do something about it. We’d like to thank the petitioners James E. Hansen, Donn Viviani, John Birks, Richard Heede, Lise Van Susteren, Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions, and CPR Initiative for bringing this petition forward, and EarthRights International, City of Boulder, and San Miguel County for endorsing it alongside us.”

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), eliminating our reliance on fossil fuels is essential, but is also no longer sufficient, to stem the worst effects of climate change. Even if every high-impact strategy is deployed today, the IPCC confirms that the atmosphere is already saturated with too much carbon dioxide. Because of this reality, Boulder County is committed to supporting nature-based and engineered solutions that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The Petition to Phase Out GHG Pollution to Restore a Stable & Healthy Climate was filed on June 16, 2022. By law, the EPA has a 90-day period within which it must accept or reject the petition.

Background

Boulder County residents are experiencing the impacts of the climate crisis in the form of high heat days, extreme weather, drought, poor air quality, and devastating wildfires. As a global leader in climate action, Boulder County is committed to the radical transformation needed to meet this challenge. Through programs and policies that foster innovation, coalition-building, and equitable outcomes, Boulder County is cutting emissions, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and supporting systemic change to fight the climate crisis.

Boulder County advocates for Colorado state legislation to reduce GHG emissions and help Coloradans avoid the worst impacts of climate change, and engages with the Colorado regulatory process on oil and gas, regional haze, transportation, and ozone rulemakings.

In 2018, Boulder County, San Miguel County, and the City of Boulder filed a lawsuit against two oil companies that bear significant responsibility for climate change. The communities are demanding that Suncor and ExxonMobil pay their fair share of the costs associated with climate change impacts on local governments so that the costs do not fall disproportionally on taxpayers.