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Governor Polis, Legislative and Community Leaders propose Transformative Clean Air Legislation

On Thursday morning, March 31, Governor Jared Polis joined legislative leadership, bill sponsors, and community leaders to unveil comprehensive legislation to preserve and protect Colorado’s air quality, and ensure Coloradans are healthy, safe, and can thrive. Just last summer, as wildfires engulfed the west, Colorado had the worst air quality in the world, reminding Front Range communities of the ‘brown cloud’ of pollution that had enveloped the metro area decades earlier.

“We are fighting for a cleaner, healthier Colorado. I am proud that in partnership with the legislature, we are moving forward on a comprehensive plan for clean air that will benefit Colorado for years to come while helping save people and businesses money. The time is now for bold action,” said Polis.

Colorado Governor Jared Polis enters the House of Representatives chamber to make his first State of the State address to a joint session of the Colorado Legislature Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The historic package of bills includes record investments in clean transportation, energy-efficient buildings, and air quality monitoring, regulation, and incentives. The electrification of school bus fleets will protect Colorado kids from harmful pollutant exposure and save Colorado schools money on both expensive fuel and maintenance costs.

“Cleaning up our air and building a healthier Colorado requires all hands on deck,” said Senate President Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder. “That’s why we’re taking a comprehensive approach to ensure every Coloradan, particularly communities who have historically borne the brunt of air pollution, can breathe clean air. With transformative investments to reduce industrial emissions, initiatives to clean up our transportation system, and plans to improve air monitoring, we’re putting Colorado on the path to a cleaner future for all.”

Bill sponsors say the newly introduced legislation supports good-paying jobs for drivers, mechanics, and construction workers with bold investments in expanded public transit service and energy-efficient buildings. Polis pointed out that his administration has made record investmentsĀ  to improve air quality since the day he was sworn in, and the newly unveiled legislation is a critical step forward towards achieving a healthier, cleaner Colorado.

“This legislation will improve our air quality, save people money and create jobs in Colorado,” said Rep. Alex Valdez, D-Denver. “By investing in new technologies, we will reduce harmful industrial emissions, and our air will be cleaner. Our kids deserve a smog-free ride to school, and electric school buses will reduce emissions and protect students’ health. I’m excited that we are taking significant action to reduce pollution and create good jobs in critical industries.”

“Every Coloradan deserves safe and healthy air to breathe, but too often we are exposed to dangerous emissions and high ozone levels that threaten our health and hit disadvantaged communities the hardest,” said Senator Julie Gonzales, D-Denver. “This legislation represents an important step toward reducing those harmful emissions and achieving true environmental justice for all.”

The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) expressed support for the sweeping package of air quality funding measures unveiled in the Colorado General Assembly. “We applaud Governor Polis and state legislative leaders for prioritizing clean air and a healthy climate for all Coloradans through the introduction of this ambitious legislative package,” said SWEEP Executive Director Elise Jones. “As our state suffers the accelerating impacts of drought, wildfires and other climate disasters and the Denver metro area faces being downgraded to severe non-attainment of the federal ozone standard, these investments are both necessary and overdue.”

“Last summer Colorado had the worst air quality in the world, and we must take immediate action to address it,” said Senator Faith Winter, D-Westminster. “That’s why I am proud to bring this legislation to reduce local air pollution by offering free transit rides during peak ozone season. This commonsense bill will encourage transit ridership, reduce harmful emissions, and help us further our climate goals while giving Colorado families cleaner, healthier air to breathe.”

“The future is coming, and we want Colorado homes to be ready so consumers don’t have to spend thousands retrofitting their properties for the technologies we know are going to be commonplace in just a few years,” said Rep. Tracey Bernett, D-Louisville. “Our building codes need to be forward-looking, and with this bill, new homes are going to be ready for clean heat, solar power, and electric vehicles. With these codes in place, Coloradans will benefit from cleaner indoor air and save money on their utility bills.”

“For too long, we’ve suffered from unhealthy, unsafe air in Colorado, and it’s only getting worse. That’s why I am proud to champion this legislation that will help upgrade our homes and buildings to reduce emissions throughout Colorado,” said Senator Chris Hansen, D-Denver. “This $22 million investment will help families, businesses, and communities improve buildings to reduce energy use and pollution, improve our indoor air quality, and help give more Coloradans a cleaner, healthier future.”