DENVER — After driving environmental groups batty with his work to change or oppose Democratic bills aimed at regulating oil and gas development in the state, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper won widespread praise from environmentalists on Wednesday for a trifecta of actions.
In Loveland, Hickenlooper signed two bills into law that will create tax credits for people buying electric cars.
“Trying to diversify our fuel mix is one of the priorities of our energy policy,” Hickenlooper said at the signing ceremony. “We are an all of the above state.”
Later Wednesday afternoon, Hickenlooper traveled north to Fort Collins and signed another bill that will allow the use of “graywater”, treated water from showers, hand-washing sinks and washing machines, for toilets and sprinklers.
House Bill 1044 also calls for the development of regulations to protect the public health and gives cities and counties the discretion to offer graywater permits to single- or multi-family dwellings.
And Hickenlooper also issued an executive order directing the Colorado Water Conservation Board to begin work on a draft Colorado Water Plan to address a water gap and streamline regulations across the state.
“Throughout our state’s history, other water plans have been created by federal agencies or for the purpose of obtaining federal dollars,” the order says. “We embark on Colorado’s first water plan written by Coloradans, for Coloradans.”
Environmentalists, who’ve been firing off sharp-tongued releases criticizing Hickenlooper after a series of legislative battles at the Capitol, lavished praise on the administration Wednesday.
“We are pleased to see that Gov. Hickenlooper highlights the need for smart, efficient water conservation as a key element of the State’s first ever water plan,” said Bart Miller, Water Program Director for Western Resource Advocates. “Conservation is faster, cheaper, and less controversial than building costly structural projects.”
“We congratulate Gov. Hickenlooper and our legislative champions for moving Colorado forward on transportation and water today,” said Conservation Colorado’s Pete Maysmith.
“The new laws signed today will put Colorado at the forefront of moving electric vehicles from the showroom to the road and adopt common sense policies to utilize strained water resources more efficiently.
“Gov. Hickenlooper understands the importance of advancing innovative solutions to complex problems and cares about protecting our clean air and public health. We appreciate his leadership and the hard work of our legislative champions.”
Hickenlooper is still weighing whether or not to sign Senate Bill 252, the environmental community’s biggest legislative accomplishment this year.
The legislation, which would force rural electric associations to draw more of their energy portfolio from renewable sources, is opposed by Republicans and most rural lawmakers; but Capitol insiders believe Hickenlooper, whose staff worked with lawmakers on the bill itself, will sign it, however reluctantly.