DENVER (KDVR) — Vice President Kamala Harris is speaking Monday in Colorado about green energy reform. Harris’ speech will take place in one of the United States’ major fossil fuel-producing states, one that has taken large strides towards renewable energy in recent years.
Colorado has long been a major energy producer, ranking seventh in the nation overall. The energy industry has deep roots in the Centennial State, which has massive crude oil reserves in its northern and western regions.
This ranking is mainly for fossil fuels. In 2021, the state was the nation’s fifth-largest producer of crude oil, the eighth-largest producer of natural gas and the 11th-largest producer of coal.
At the state level, though, Colorado has succeeded in lowering some of its dependence on fossil fuels for electricity production, mainly with wind.
Thirty years ago, over 90% of Colorado’s electricity was coal-fired. From 1990 to the mid-2000s, the state added more natural gas to its electricity production.
Starting in 2005, Colorado started putting more energy into developing wind-derived electricity and other renewables. By 2021, 27% of the state’s electricity was wind-powered and another 3% solar-powered – the biggest share of renewable electricity in the state’s history.
Colorado’s emissions have been falling over the last 15 years as well, though slowly and inconsistently.
Colorado’s carbon emissions peaked in 2007 when there were 99.3 million metric tons of energy-related carbon dioxide released into the air. That followed a nearly 40-year stretch during which emissions steadily rose and eventually doubled from 1970.
Beginning in 2007, emissions have slowed. In 2019, there were 91.7 million metric tons of emissions, an 8% decline.
Emissions had been rising each year from 2015 through 2019, however, matching the period of time during which Colorado’s population boomed.