Mark Paul– Colorado’s fossil fuel phase-out is likely to fail without big changes, but supporters still hope it sends a message

March 8, 2024

An article in CPR News discusses a proposed bill in Colorado aiming to phase out new oil and gas development by 2030. While the bill faces opposition and skepticism from some lawmakers and industry leaders, its sponsors are pushing forward to spark a debate about the state’s fossil fuel industry and its commitment to climate action. The legislation, if approved, would make Colorado the first top five oil-producing state to set an expiration date on new drilling. Due to opposition within the statehouse and from Governor Jared Polis, the bill is unlikely to pass in its current form, leading the arguments that capping future oil and gas permits could have significant economic consequences.

Mark Paul, an assistant professor who studies climate economics at Rutgers University, told CPR News that the situation reveals the limits of only cutting fossil fuel demand. The U.S. remains the world’s top producer of oil and gas. Even if the country weans itself from carbon-based energy, other countries will continue to burn the fossil fuels it produces. A complementary supply-side strategy, Paul said, could help guarantee global reductions in climate pollution.

“If we don’t stop extracting fossil fuels, then we’re really tying one hand behind our back in this fight, and we’re going to fail at the job that’s in front of us,” Paul said.

While Paul recognizes Colorado represents a small portion of global fossil fuel extraction, he said the state could set an example for other governments around the world, especially if it can manage to wind down new drilling without tanking its economy.

CPR News, March 8, 2024

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