As I explained in a companion post, HB 1291, legislation that approves the Air Quality Control Commission’s Regional Haze State Implementation Plan, is an illegal rip-off. Thankfully, there’s a remedy: Senator Kevin Lundberg’s S. 237, would strip HB 1291 of its most cost-ineffective provisions, and thereby save ratepayers at least $100 million in unnecessary costs.
I harbor no illusions about the likely winner when principles (as embodied by S. 237) clash with deep-pocketed special interests (as embodied by HB 1291). Nonetheless, I thought Sen. Lundberg’s legislation would at least get a fair shake. As such, I am genuinely shocked at the lengths to which the forces that stand to gain from HB 1291 have gone to ensure that S. 237 gets swept under the rug.
On Monday, the Senate referred HB 1291 and S 237 to the State Affairs Committee, and a hearing on both bills was scheduled for Monday, April 25. Despite the fact that HB 1291 enjoyed the support of Colorado’s most influential special interests (gas and Excel) and was therefore almost assuredly going to pass by a wide margin, its proponents decided to leave nothing to chance. On Tuesday, the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee moved the hearing on HB 1291 up to April 19, but it left consideration of S. 237 on April 25.
Here’s why this is outrageous: It ensures the Senate cannot even consider opposition to HB 1291! If the Senate approves the Regional Haze State Implementation Plan by enacting HB 1291 on April 19, then there is no reason to consider changes to that Plan (i.e., S. 237) a week later.
This is indefensible. It’s one thing to kowtow to big money. It’s another thing entirely to silence opposing viewpoints with a procedural sleight of hand.
William Yeatman is an energy policy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute