Volts podcast: Will Toor on Colorado's burst of clean energy policy


Washington, DC, is a slow-motion nightmare right now, but out in the states — at least the states that Democrats control — climate and clean energy policy is still happening. A few weeks ago, I covered the fantastic policies recently passed in my home state of Washington (see also my podcast with Washington legislator Joe Fitzgibbon).

Today, we turn our gaze to Colorado.

In 2018, Democrats gained a trifecta in the state — the governorship and both houses of the legislature — for the first time since 2013. They promptly got busy passing a vast array of clean energy policies: reform of electric utilities, support for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, new restrictions on oil and gas production.

During this year’s legislative session, Gov. Jared Polis released a comprehensive roadmap to 90 percent statewide reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and the state legislature tackled clean buildings, industry, environmental justice, reform of state transportation agencies, reform of natural gas utilities, and on and on.

To discuss this flurry of activity, I turned to a man who has been involved in Colorado politics since the previous century: Will Toor.

Toor was mayor of Boulder from 1998 to 2004. From 2005 to 2012, he was Boulder County Commissioner. During all that time he was also board chair at the Denver Regional Council of Governments, where he led efforts on climate policy. He then became director of the transportation program at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, until 2019, when the newly elected Polis appointed him to run the Colorado Energy Office.

Toor has had a hand in shaping Polis’s energy agenda from the beginning, and he has been closely involved in negotiating bills through the legislature. He helped walk me through Colorado's sector-by-sector approach to emissions, what the state has accomplished so far, and what might be next for it.

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As a bonus, here’s a picture of Toor in 2003, as mayor of Boulder, hosting visiting scholar Noam Chomsky.