Smog shrouds Denver’s skyline behind Interstate 25 traffic on Aug. 18, 2021. (Chase Woodruff/Colorado Newsline)
A coalition of environmental groups and local governments has filed a formal petition with Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission requesting the adoption of an Advanced Clean Trucks rule by the end of this year, aiming to reverse a decision by Gov. Jared Polis’ administration last month to push back the key climate rulemaking until at least 2023.
Boulder County and the City and County of Denver are both signatories to the petition, which was filed with the AQCC on Thursday. Other petitioners represent a broad swath of environmental and community organizations, including GreenLatinos, NAACP Denver, Conservation Colorado and the Environmental Defense Fund.
“There simply is no good reason to delay consideration of these rules, and plenty of good reasons why the AQCC should act this spring,” Ean Thomas Tafoya, Colorado director for GreenLatinos, said in a statement. “We must act quickly on many fronts, and today we reassert that we will use every tool available to us to ensure our right to clean air and a livable future.”
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The Advanced Clean Trucks rule, modeled on requirements passed by California and at least five other states, aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by requiring medium- and heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers to sell an increasing percentage of zero-emission models — applying the same approach to trucks, vans and buses that Colorado and many other states have taken with passenger cars through Zero Emission Vehicle mandates.
Officials with the Polis administration offered a variety of explanations for pushing back the ACT rulemaking, which had originally been scheduled for mid-2022. They cited ongoing “global supply chain issues” that could impact the availability of electric-vehicle batteries and impede trucking companies’ ability to participate in the rulemaking process.
But environmental groups, who have repeatedly clashed with Polis over climate policy and had been calling for ACT rules to be swiftly adopted as early as January 2021, were incensed by the decision. Their petition requests that the AQCC adopt the rule no later than the end of the year, putting its requirements back on track to take effect in 2025. The petition could be taken up by the AQCC, a nine-member panel of volunteers appointed by the governor, as soon as its April 21 meeting.
More than 5.3 million tons of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases were emitted by Colorado’s 480,000 medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in 2019, according to state data. In addition to broad climate effects, environmental-justice advocates and experts say the trucking sector has a disproportionate impact on low-income communities and people of color who live near the highways, depots and industrial facilities where heavy-emitting trucks largely operate.
“Further delays to moving towards a clean truck solution invalidates the environmental justice needed now for disproportionately impacted communities harmed by cumulative impacts of pollution and environmental racism,” Renée M. Chacon, cofounder and executive director of Womxn from the Mountain, said in a statement. “The policy can not only restore our communities but finally address equity with the health and safety our future generations deserve.”greenlatinos_et_al_petition_to_expedite_the_act_and_low-nox_rulemaking
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