Opinion

There’s plenty of community-based support for cleaner air in Colorado

Authors: Anita Seitz, Jill Ryan - August 20, 2018 - Updated: August 20, 2018

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Anita Seitz

Three years ago, a small group of local governments forged a coalition to push for stronger climate protection policies in Colorado. That coalition, Colorado Communities for Climate Action, is now 20 communities strong. Our member jurisdictions span the Western Slope and the Front Range, municipalities and counties, resort towns and suburbs. They share a commitment to reducing carbon pollution, protecting Colorado from the growing impacts of climate change, and ensuring that our economy can remain competitive and sustainable in the years to come.

Colorado’s towns, cities, and counties suffer the impacts of ever more intense forest fires, and the floods and mudslides that follow. We have to grapple with the painful consequences of extended severe drought. We have to navigate the challenges of more frequent extreme heat, and the economic impacts of Colorado’s imperiled winter recreation industry.

Thanks to Gov. Hickenlooper’s leadership, the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission has an opportunity right now to significantly improve the lives of Coloradans and the health of our communities. Even though the federal government is planning to weaken fuel economy standards for vehicles, Colorado can choose to maintain the current standards. We would be joining the twelve other states and the District of Columbia that have already done this, helping to ensure that whatever rollbacks happen federally, many Americans will still be able to reap the benefits of cleaner air, reduced carbon pollution, and saving money on fuel.

Colorado can also choose to join the nine other states that have adopted the so-called “zero emission vehicle” provisions, which will expand electric vehicle options for Coloradans, making it easier for anyone who wants an electric vehicle to find one that suits their budget and needs.

Jill Ryan

As local officials, who live and work with our constituents day in and day out, we can attest to the broad support for improving mileage standards and improving access to electric vehicles. We also understand the considerable challenges local governments around the state face in grappling with continued air pollution and non-attainment problems. Protecting fuel economy standards even if the Environmental Protection Agency weakens them federally will make a huge difference for our communities. Similarly, adopting the zero emission vehicle provisions will give everyone more tools for solving these problems (as well as more opportunities for Colorado families and businesses to save money on fuel costs).

And as the president and president-elect of our local government coalition, we regularly talk about these issues to elected officials all over the state. Our colleagues representing other communities in the coalition tell us the same thing. This isn’t surprising, since improving fuel economy, reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and expanding electric vehicle options all enjoy broad public support. It’s also not surprising because elected officials around the state also care deeply about the health of their most vulnerable constituents. The young, the elderly, and those with respiratory ailments like asthma in our communities are especially threatened by air pollution. Improving fuel economy and expanding opportunities to use zero emission vehicles will make their lives substantially better.

Kudos to the Air Quality Control Commission for kicking off the process that will preserve fuel economy standards in Colorado and for committing to start the “zero emission vehicle” process in December, which would expand access to electric vehicles across the state.

Anita Seitz

Anita Seitz

Anita Seitz is the president of Colorado Communities for Climate Action and serves on the Westminster City Counci.


Jill Ryan

Jill Ryan

Jill Ryan is the president-elect of Colorado Communities for Climate Action and an Eagle County commissioner.