August 5, 2020

Editorial: Polis deserves credit for compromise between energy supporters, critics

Well, that’s a relief.

Gov. Jared Polis orchestrated a compromise in late July that saw both energy-industry opponents and supporters agree to pull their ballot measures from the November ballot, instead agreeing to fight future battles before the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

The move represented an act of statesmanship on Polis’ part and forestalled inevitable lawsuits that would have seen each side challenging the legitimacy of the other’s ballot measure. The groups agreed to refrain from any new ballot proposals until 2022.

It makes sense, as state officials are still working to implement Senate Bill 181, a wholesale rewriting of Colorado’s energy regulatory environment that was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Polis in 2019.

As Polis noted in an opinion piece published by Colorado Politics, “When you’re making a cake, you don’t pull it out of the oven after two minutes and start randomly adding new ingredients — you follow the recipe and wait until it’s fully baked.”

Polis also upped the ante, announcing that he would oppose any oil-and-gas-related ballot measure, regardless of whether he supports the policy objective. He also has asked legislators to avoid any industry-related bills so that SB-181 can be implemented.

Opposition from a sitting governor carries weight, and the stratagem worked. Polis’ action was praised both by the American Petroleum Institute of Colorado and Conservation Colorado.

Still, the war between energy-industry opponents and supporters is far from over. Both sides will certainly wrangle over implementation of SB-181, and lawsuits still might fly back and forth.

But additional uncertainty caused by competing ballot measures has at least been prevented for the next couple of years.

And that’s a good thing.

– – –

Speaking of compromise, hats off to the city of Boulder and Xcel Energy, which have reached a proposed settlement of Boulder’s efforts to launch a municipal utility. The decade-long battle, which has cost millions of dollars and promised to cost many millions more, appears to be over.

That’s if the city council and voters agree to a new agreement that will see the city sign a new franchise agreement with Xcel, in exchange for commitments by the utility to help the city reach 100% renewable energy, along with emissions reductions.

City staff, Xcel officials, Mayor Sam Weaver and Mayor Pro Tem Bob Yates were key to the compromise. It’s especially significant that Weaver, a longtime supporter of municipalization, supports the compromise.

Boulder retains several “outs” that would allow it to revive its municipalization efforts if Xcel fails to fulfill its obligations.

We hope that voters will support the agreement, which would enable Boulder to achieve its climate-change goals.

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