Why Colorado Needs The Inflation Reduction Act Now

Critical climate and clean energy investments will create millions of good-paying jobs, lower energy costs for families, invest in disadvantaged communities, and reduce climate pollution. Not only are Coloradans demanding climate action now, with 79% of registered voters supporting Congressional action on climate change, they are experiencing the devastating impacts of climate change. At the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022, Colorado experienced its most devastating wildfire which destroyed almost 1,100 houses and businesses, demonstrating precisely why Congress must act now to pass the Inflation Reduction Act to secure Colorado’s future. Here’s why Colorado needs the climate investments in the Inflation Reduction Act now: 

Voters in Colorado want solutions to the climate crisis.

  • 82% of registered voters in Colorado support investment in clean energy jobs and 79% support Congressional climate action. 
  • 73% of Colorado voters support transitioning to a 100% clean energy grid, and 69% support federal investments to accelerate clean energy job growth.
  • 80% of voters in Colorado support tax incentives to make clean energy sources like wind and solar widely available at lower costs, and 75% of voters support rewarding electric utilities that generate more electricity every year from clean energy sources. 

Investing in clean energy means jobs for Colorado.

  • In 2021, Colorado was home to 61,179 clean energy jobs, including 17,625 jobs in generating renewable electricity, 3,044 jobs in energy storage, 34,205jobs in energy efficiency, and 4,318 jobs in clean vehicles.
    • The Department of Energy’s 2022 Energy and Employment Report found that 15,806 Colorado workers were employed in solar and wind electric generation in 2021. 
  • One report published in 2020 found that even modest federal clean energy stimulus investments could generate 16,303 jobs in Colorado per year over a 5 year period. The hypothetical investments in that report were even smaller than those in the Inflation Reduction Act.

Coloradans are already feeling the impacts of climate change.

  • Colorado is facing more than 20 years of drought conditions, and scientists are now saying the state is in an emerging megadrought that is unlikely to improve as the climate continues to change.
  • The average flow of the Colorado River has declined nearly 20% over the past century due to warmer temperatures. Denver Water, which serves 1.5 million people in the metro Denver area, gets half of its supply from the Colorado River Basin.
  • Intense drought, combined with extreme temperatures, creates tinderbox-like conditions. The end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022 saw a rare winter blaze in Colorado that became the most destructive in the state’s history. The Marshall Fire destroyed 6,000 acres and almost 1,100 houses and businesses, killing one person and displacing tens of thousands of people.
  • More than 100,000 people living in Colorado are especially vulnerable to extreme heat. On June 23, 2022, Colorado saw temperatures reach 100 degrees. July 2022 was also Denver’s second hottest July on record.

If we do nothing, it will get worse for communities across the state and cost billions.

  • Colorado is projected to see almost 50 heatwave days by 2050, with heat danger days above 105 jumping to 13 by 2050. 
  • Climate change will cost Colorado over $1.25 billion annually by 2100. 
  • By 2050, summer drought severity in Colorado is projected to be among the worst in the country, posing problems for the state’s already-strained water supplies and drought-struck agriculture industry.

Climate change and fossil fuel pollution have a disproportionate impact on people of color in Colorado.

  • Burning fossil fuels is poisoning Colorado’s air and water. The Globeville and Elyria-Swansea zip code are the nation’s most polluted, leaving residents to suffer higher rates of chronic illness thanks to several sources of pollution, including heavy truck traffic and a nearby refinery. A report found Globeville and Elyria-Swansea youth visited the emergency room for asthma 120 to 140 percent more often than Denver as a whole.
  • Denver has the third biggest heat island effect in the nation. Summers in Denver can reach up to 23 degrees hotter than temperatures in nearby rural areas, and the city sees 26 more days above 90 degrees each year compared to rural areas. Elyria-Swansea, a low-income, majority Hispanic neighborhood, is one of Denver’s most heat-vulnerable communities.
  • Colorado is one of six states where Latinos are more likely to die prematurely than white residents. Data shows Latino residents are about 20% more likely to die of treatable or preventable conditions, including those linked to pollution such as asthma attacks and certain cancers. Colorado’s Latino population is exposed to 15% higher concentrations of PM2.5 particulate pollution than the state average and 27% higher than exposure experienced by white residents.