WASHINGTON – Potential impacts stemming from a new federal mandate on carbon pollution was the focus of a Senate committee Tuesday.
The hearing by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works came just a day after the Environmental Protection Agency released its final rule calling for a 32 percent nationwide reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions by 2030. A target of 28 percent has been set for Colorado.
The hearing focused on impacts to states and the energy industry. Legal challenges to federal agencies are what concerned state and industry representatives, as well as Republican lawmakers.
“Criticisms of environmental litigation are criticisms of environmental law,” testified Justin Pidot, an associate professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and a former Department of Justice attorney specializing in environment and natural resources.
Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government and public affairs for Western Energy Alliance, said agencies such as the Fish and Wildlife Service divert resources because of lawsuits from environmental groups. Rather than focus on truly endangered species, they must focus on “lower priority species” because of litigation, she said.
But Alfredo Gomez, a director with the U.S. Government Accountability Office, said trade associations and private companies, not environmental groups, have actually brought the largest number of lawsuits between 1994 and 2010 against federal agencies.
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., hailed the EPA’s rule.
“This plan is an important step toward curbing carbon pollution and addressing climate change,” Bennet said.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Mariam Baksh is a student at American University in Washington, D.C., and an intern with The Durango Herald.