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Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 18, 20173min834
Colorado has a transportation plan on the table to spend $68 million on mass transit, greener fuels and a network of charging stations for electric vehicles. The only public hearing on the proposal is Monday afternoon in Denver. The money has to go for clear-air programs related to vehicle exhaust, according to the $14.7 billion […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchAugust 29, 20174min489

Environmental groups are cheering on a plan to spend Colorado’s $68 million lawsuit settlement from Volkswagen on green-powered solutions to getting around.

Under the draft, $18 million for transit buses, another $18 million for trucks and buses that run on alternative fuels, $10 million to electric vehicle charging stations plus administration and other clean-air spending.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will hold a public hearing on the prosal oon Sept. 18 and take public comments into October before a final decision that’s expected in November.

The $68 million is the state’s entire share of a mediated $14.7 billion settlement with Volkswagen after  it was discovered the automaker installed computer software to cheat emissions tests in about 550,000 diesel vehicles from 2009 through 2016. About 9,700 of those vehicles were sold in Colorado.

The money from the settlement must go toward reducing vehicle emissions.

“The goal of this settlement is to reduce harmful pollution and positively impact public health as much as possible,”Sophia Guerrero-Murphy, transportation and energy advocate for Conservation Colorado, the state’s largest environmental organization, said in a statement. “To accomplish these goals, the CDPHE needs to electrify our buses and trucks. This is also an opportunity to make sure our whole state benefits from infrastructure that will positively impact our air and quality of life, especially underserved urban and rural communities.”

The $10 million Colorado could put into electric-charging stations is the maximum the settlement allows. That’s enough to put in 60 fast-charging stations. The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project and the Colorado Public Interest Research Group say if those stations are placed 30 miles apart, the stations would offer enough juice to cross interstates 70, 25, and 76, along with most of U.S. 160, U.S. 550, U.S. 50, U.S. 285 and U.S. 40

“Volkswagen’s misleadingly dirty cars emitted pollutants by as much as 40 times over the legal limit,” said Danny Katz, CoPIRG’s director. “Colorado has an opportunity to use this money in a truly transformative way by focusing on electric cars, buses and trucks. Supporting electrification is the best way to put us on track to where we ought to go — a transportation system with zero emissions.”

Will Toor, the transportation program director for SWEEP, said Colorado should “hit the accelerator for electric vehicles” with the windfall.

“Because Colorado’s major utilities have been closing their most polluting older power plants and rapidly adding wind and solar, the state’s electricity mix is getting cleaner and cleaner so moving towards electricity as the fuel for vehicles puts us on a path to a zero emissions transportation system,” he said in the statement.

More electric vehicles on the road has the support of most statehouse Democrats, including Gov. John Hickenlooper. Last December he, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said they would draw up a plan over the next year to put up stations to give electric vehicles a network of more than 2,000 miles of highway.

“Our residents and the millions of visitors to our states will be able to drive electric vehicles from Denver to Salt Lake City to Las Vegas—from the Rockies to the Pacific,” Hickenlooper said at the time.


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Randal O'TooleRandal O'TooleFebruary 26, 20177min401

According to a misleading new report, Colorado ranks 29th in per capita funding for transit, spending just one-twentieth of the national average. Thus, there is a “funding gap” for public transit. But Colorado apparently ranks 29th only in state transit funding. What’s left out is that most transit funding comes from the regional level. The misleading data are part of a report by a Boulder group known as the South West Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP), which is urging the state Legislature to spend more money on transit. But this recommendation is based on three fallacies.



Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirFebruary 3, 20173min468

More food for thought as state lawmakers gird for an epic push to forge a transportation-funding plan: A report released by the Boulder-based Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, or SWEEP, says Colorado is ranked 29th among states in per capita funding for public transit, investing just one-twentieth of the national average in the likes of buses and light rail.

From SWEEP’s press release announcing its findings:

The dearth of state dollars going toward public transit is part of a broader puzzle Colorado faces in untangling its intertwined problems of rapid population growth, constrained funding, congested roads and inadequate public transit for rural residents as well as urban dwellers.

“Colorado has historically invested very little state money into public transit compared to other states, spending only $2.62 annually per person, or less than one cent per day. That’s compared to the national average of over $53 per person per year or almost 15 cents per person each day,” said Will Toor, SWEEP’s transportation program director.

SWEEP is a familiar presence at the Capitol, advocating for greater energy efficiency in Colorado as well as Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

“Transportation” is, of course, variously defined at the legislature. Republicans tend to keep it simple; they spell it H-I-G-H-W-A-Y-S. Many Democrats are more likely to include everything from expanded bus service to bike lanes. It’s a classic guns-vs.-butter debate that loops in environmentalists, highway contractors, the business community and economic-development types.

If an elusive transportation-funding agreement is at last hammered out, look for it to include a little something for all of those stakeholders — though the state’s overburdened and aging highway infrastructure will, by definition, be at the head of the line in any funding package.