Already narrowed, Colorado’s rule to reduce car travel is completely removed

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Days after dramatically cutting a proposed rule to force large employers to encourage alternatives to car travel, Colorado air quality regulators went even further to address concerns from business groups opposed to measurement, removing it completely from the examination.

In a pair of motions filed with the Air Quality Control Commission this week, state health department staff recommended that the commission end the review of the traffic reduction program. employees, which the AQCC was due to consider at its meeting next month. The AQCC granted the request in a procedural order issued on Friday.

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The ETRP program, inspired by similar initiatives launched in at least 27 other local and state jurisdictions across the country, reportedly required companies with more than 100 employees at one location in the Denver metro area to develop and implement plans to reduce the number of employees. travel in single occupant vehicles. Options for ETRP compliance reportedly ranged from telecommuting and flexible hours to providing transit passes or shuttles for employees.

Governor Jared Polis delivers his state-of-the-state address to the Colorado House of Representatives on February 17, 2021. Governor Polis thanked medical professionals, educators and firefighters for their respective efforts to to move Colorado forward despite the covid pandemic that has affected much of American life. (AAron Ontiveroz / The Denver Post, pool)

The ETRP proposal had been touted by Gov. Jared Polis’ administration as a centerpiece of its efforts to reduce pollution in the transportation sector, especially as it fought legislation backed by environmental groups to strengthen mandatory emission reductions. It features prominently in the administration’s roadmap to reducing greenhouse gas pollution, which was finalized in January and was referenced in a Colorado Department of Transportation planning document not later than Monday.

But over the course of a few days this week, the state’s air pollution control division first drastically reduced the scope of its proposed rule, then decided to withdraw it altogether.

“After broad outreach and engagement with a wide range of stakeholders, the Division is now withdrawing its support and proposals for a formal ETRP rule and will instead focus on the opportunities presented through a voluntary program,” said the APCD in a motion filed with the AQCC on July 21.

The complete withdrawal of the rule came just two days after an initial communication from the APCD to interest groups that the division was “revising its proposal”. As late as Tuesday evening, APCD spokesperson Andrew Bare told Newsline that the division is “refocusing the Employee Traffic Reduction Program proposal on collaborative data collection and voluntary participation,” and that a modified rule would still be considered at the August meeting of the AQCC. The division filed its withdrawal the next day.

The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from the state of transport

Opponents of the proposed rule, including many Colorado business groups, applauded its likely defeat.

“We are grateful to the division for listening to our concerns and those of our members and for withdrawing its support and proposal for a formal rule for the Employee Travel Reduction Program,” Laura Giocomo Rizzo, Vice President Chief External Affairs Officer of the Denver Subway Chamber of Commerce. , said in a statement. “We firmly believe that a voluntary approach with employers to reduce individual vehicle trips and increase employee flexibility is the right way to go. “

Other opponents have been less measured in their criticism. Tim Jackson, President of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, wrote on Twitter that the ETRP proposal was “Colorado’s version of #HungerGames”. Jackson celebrated the rule’s withdrawal by post a picture porters carrying a coffin, accompanied by the message “RIP #ETRP”.

The transportation sector is Colorado’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for more than 25 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, according to state estimates. Cars and trucks are also major sources of local air pollution, accounting for up to 40% of locally emitted ozone pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and volatile organic compounds. Each year, air pollution is estimated to cause between 90,000 and 360,000 premature deaths in the United States.

“The Division remains committed to significantly reducing emissions,” the APCD wrote in its motion to withdraw, “and believes that a voluntary program can lay the groundwork for future success (such as better data and real-life examples) of the program and lead to real progress in reducing emissions.

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