Every Colorado knows there’s no place more spectacular than our state. But increasingly, the impacts of climate change are putting our state at risk. Wildfires now ravage Colorado every season of the year, and snowfall is less reliable. Air quality erosion in our state consistently ranks among the worst in the United States, due to increased air pollution.
Colorado is already taking steps to address the climate challenges we face, and the Polis administration has done a good job of prioritizing cleaner air efforts. Yet there is one area where state leaders should act quickly to improve air quality and reduce climate pollution: transportation. In particular, we need to tackle pollution caused by large commercial vehicles, such as trucks and delivery vans.
Transportation has an outsized impact on our health and climate because it is the state’s largest source of emissions. And medium and heavy vehicles pollute at a disproportionate rate: they represent barely 10% of American traffic but represent more than a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions roads. They are also the source of even higher shares of other pollutants.
It’s because these large commercial trucks are both the heart of our economy and responsible for an outsized impact on our climate and environment that we need to find ways to operate them more cleanly.
Colorado leaders have taken initial steps to address this challenge. In 2020, Governor Jared Polis joined more than a dozen other governors in a deal to dramatically increase the number of clean trucks on the road. It includes targets for zero-emission trucks to account for 100% of new sales by 2050.
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But Colorado needs to turn that goal into action. Six of the signatory states to the agreement have already adopted a major policy to accelerate the transition to clean trucks. The Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) rule would require manufacturers of medium and heavy-duty vehicles to steadily increase their zero-emissions sales over time. It’s a policy that cleans up and grows the economy at the same time — and one that Colorado should embrace quickly.
the Colorado Air Quality Control Board has yet to adopt the ACT rule and in April declined an initiative to begin the rule-making process immediately. We remain encouraged by the interest of the Polis administration in eventually adopting it.
But because every new diesel truck will run for a decade or more, compounding our climate and air quality problems and literally adding fuel to the fire, it’s especially important to adopt the rule as soon as possible. to ensure clean trucks start hitting the road soon. . And with them, their many economic and public health benefits.
There is already massive market demand for clean trucks, as big companies know they need electric vehicles to meet their own emissions targets and prevent the worst impacts of the climate crisis. Additionally, they see significant business benefits in clean trucks, particularly through fuel and maintenance savings.
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, where we work, was one of more than 70 companies that presented these benefits to Governor Polisin a letter sent to governors across the country urging their states to adopt the ACT rule and unleash the era of electric trucks.
Electric vehicles are already more affordable to own and maintain than diesel vehicles, an advantage that will only grow as the electricity market grows and costs come down. The ACT rule is the best way to revive this market, which needs to grow rapidly for Colorado – and Basin A – to meet its ambitious climate goals. And, as a frontrunner, Colorado can lead the transition to clean trucks by ensuring the vehicle models businesses need are available in our state.
By calling for zero-emission vehicles to account for up to three-quarters of new sales by 2035, the rule will trigger mass production and sales that will make it even cheaper to build and buy clean trucks. It would also free up investment in much-needed charging infrastructure, generating new jobs.
The more states that adopt the policy, the faster the industry will grow and the faster each state will benefit. But in the meantime, as this shift to electric vehicles happens, Colorado will need to demand reductions in toxic emissions from diesel trucks still on the road, to improve air quality and health and reduce emissions now.
Arapahoe Basin is committed to doing its part to protect Colorado’s winters and clean air, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because our business depends on it. We have already begun our transition to electric vehicle fleets and recently enabled 10 EV charging ports for guest EV travel.
We also recognize that the electricity needed to power these vehicles must continue to come from increasingly cleaner sources. A-Basin currently derives 55% of its electricity from renewable sources and strongly supports the goals of the state and our utility provider – Xcel Energy – to continue to develop these renewable resources.
We believe we all have a role to play in achieving climate goals, and that’s why we’re not just working to reduce our own emissions, we’re also advocating for policies like the ACT rule that will help our state fight. against transport pollution.
Colorado is taking admirable steps to address the climate crisis, but each day of deteriorating air quality reminds us that we need to act more urgently. We join many in calling on the Polis administration to adopt the ACT Rule and help position Colorado as a climate leader. There is no surer way to advance the state’s commitment to our natural resources and our critical external economy – while clearing the air in the communities that suffer the most from this traffic and eliminating a major source of climate pollution to prevent the fires of tomorrow.
Alan Hereroth is Director of Operations for the Arapahoe Basin Ski Area. Mike Nathan is the Arapahoe Basin Ski Area Sustainability Manager.
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