Republicans Fight to Bolster Besieged Checks and Balances

DENVER – Senate Republicans on Wednesday sent a clear signal that Democrats can’t get away with trashing Constitutional principles in their increasingly extreme efforts to “save the planet,” introducing a bill that bars Colorado from participating in a multi-state “climate alliance,” inspired by the Paris Climate Accords, that Gov. John Hickenlooper agreed to participate in.


Senate Democrats tried turning the hearing into another forum for expounding various climate theories, but the measure debated Wednesday, which eventually passed the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee on a 6-5 party-line vote, was focused on the question of whether Hickenlooper could commit Coloradans to meeting emissions limits of an unratified international treaty negotiated by the Obama White House.


Republicans called that an act of “executive overreach” that wasn’t just unwise for Colorado from a policy standpoint, but was also unconstitutional. “We’re here to debate political science not climate science, because this bill is aimed at upholding our constitutional system of checks and balances, not debating the truth or falsehood of climate theories,” explained Senate Bill-225 co-sponsor Kevin Lunberg (R-Berthoud) in introducing the measure. “Nothing in the US Constitution gives this or any other governor authority to unilaterally commit Coloradans to the goals of the so-called state climate alliance or the never-ratified Paris Climate Accords."


Greeley Republican John Cooke, who co-authored the bill, said his constituents want him focused on energy policies that take Colorado’s unique circumstances and interests into account, not the climate concerns of countries that signed-on to the Paris Climate Accords. “Colorado can make meaningful progress on reducing emissions and energy innovation without the need to abide by domestic or international climate agreements of questionable value and legitimacy, which weren’t designed with this state’s unique needs or circumstances in mind,” said Cooke. “Let other states or countries pursue pie-in-the-sky energy policies, with little concern about the costs or consequences. Colorado's approach needs to be grounded in realism, common sense and a level-headed cost-benefit analysis.


Committee Democrats shrugged-off the importance of maintaining checks and balances, apparently believing that the “climate crisis” justifies trampling of any legal or constitutional speed bumps that stand in the way. That the Governor’s actions diminished their power as Senators also didn’t register with Democrats on the committee, who seemed more than happy to surrender those powers in response to the “climate crisis.” 


SB-225 next moves to the Senate as a whole for debate.    
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