Smog shrouds Denver’s skyline behind Interstate 25 traffic on Aug. 18, 2021. (Chase Woodruff/Colorado Newsline)
As Colorado’s summer ozone season intensifies, a new poll shows large majorities of residents are concerned about the impacts of air pollution and want bolder action from government to reduce it.
Nearly three-quarters of Coloradans agree that state officials “should do more to reduce emissions from gas and diesel vehicles,” according to the poll released Monday by the group Advanced Energy Economy. Conducted by YouGov, the poll surveyed a sample of 600 Coloradans between June 8 and 16.
“Summer should be about enjoying the outdoors, but in large part because of truck pollution, it’s become an ozone warning season when it’s often unsafe to be outside,” Emilie Olson, a policy principal at AEE, said in a statement. “Coloradans want state leaders to take immediate action to reduce the vehicle pollution that’s causing poor air quality.”
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By a 2-to-1 margin, respondents endorsed the adoption of an Advanced Clean Trucks rule, which would require manufacturers of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles to sell an increasing percentage of zero-emission models.
At least six states, led by California, have passed ACT rules, which apply to a wide range of vehicles spanning from delivery vans to tractor trailers. Though Colorado air-quality regulators had initially announced plans to adopt the rule this year, Gov. Jared Polis’ administration has delayed a rulemaking until 2023 at the earliest, frustrating environmental groups.
The transportation sector makes up roughly a quarter of Colorado’s annual greenhouse gas emissions total. While light-duty passenger vehicles account for most of that figure, Colorado trucks emitted an estimated 5.3 million tons of carbon-dioxide-equivalent in 2019, along with other, local air pollutants that disproportionately impact low-income communities and communities of color.
Seven in ten Coloradans report that air pollution “negatively impact(s) my quality of life,” the poll found, and nearly half of respondents said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who emphasized the need to reduce vehicle emissions, compared to just 16% who said they would be less likely.
AEE’s poll found strong support for a variety of other policies aimed at reducing transportation-sector emissions, including a low-carbon fuel standard and rebates for the purchase of electric trucks. By a narrower margin, 41% of Coloradans said they would support legislation mandating that all new medium- and heavy-duty vehicles be electric by 2035, compared to 38% opposed.
“Phasing out the dirty, long-range trucks that spew high levels of tailpipe emissions as they move through Northern Front Range, Commerce City, and all over the Denver metro area will reduce the toxic smog that plagues our air,” Olson said. “This research shows Coloradans will continue to support practical action, like adoption of the Advanced Clean Trucks rule, to get our state closer to an electrified transportation system that’s healthier for our communities and our economy.”
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