Sturm College of Law
Climate, Colorado, Environmental justice, HB 19-1261, pollution, Climate Policy, Colorado Climate policy, greenhouse gas emissions, Climate Action Plan to Reduce Pollution, Colorado Air Quality Control Commission, air monitoring, hot-spots, carbon pricing
This report was primarily drafted in the Spring of 2019, as the Colorado Legislature considered, and ultimately enacted, HB 19-1261. Since that time, developments have only highlighted the critical importance of considering the justice impacts of any public health and environmental responses to the threat of climate change. In particular, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the stark racial and class disparities that environmental conditions have on the health of a community. The same facilities and mobile sources that emit climate pollution also typically emit particulate matter and smogforming pollution that cause respiratory illness in many communities. These underlying conditions are additional risk factors for complications from coronavirus infections. The same pollution is concentrated in lower-income areas and communities of color. Unsurprisingly, but sadly, the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on those same communities. Many others have noted that the pandemic has led to increases in racism and stigmatization of communities of color, particularly towards Asian and Asian American populations. And the pollution has seemingly gotten worse during the pandemic, as an early study indicates that relaxation of environmental rules has led to not only an increase of pollution in many frontline communities, but also a corresponding increase in disease and death related to the coronavirus.
Thus, getting climate policy “right” is critical not only to address the climate crisis, but also to redress existing injustices while preventing the creation of new ones. Recent times have underscored the fact that this is a life and death question for many communities. Our hope is that this report is timely and can help ensure that Colorado continues making progress on justice issues even as it rises to the challenge posed by climate change.
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Originally published as Kevin J. Lynch, A Fracking Mess: Just Compensation for Regulatory Takings of Oil and Gas Property Rights, 43 Colum. J. Envtl. L. 335 (2018).
Kevin J. Lynch et al., Climate Policy & Environmental Justice Recommendations for Colorado: Environmental Justice and the Climate Action Plan to Reduce Pollution (University of Denver Environmental Law Clinic, 2020).