Colorado Transportation Commission proposes new pollution and emissions standards

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Wildfire smoke settles over downtown Denver on July 13, 2021. (KDVR)

DENVER – The Colorado Transportation Commission proposed a new transportation pollution reduction standard that will partner with the Governor’s Greenhouse Gas Roadmap.

The proposed rule focuses on how the Colorado Department of Transportation and the state’s largest metropolitan regions will select future transportation projects. Prior to a transportation project installment, it is first identified in plans developed with local public input. CDOT’s current 10-year plan can be found here.

The draft standard would require CDOT and the state’s five Metropolitan Planning Organizations to determine the total pollution and greenhouse gas emission increase or decrease expected from future transportation projects and to ensure that greenhouse gas emission levels do not exceed established reduction amounts. This will also streamline the planning and delivery of successful innovations for improving quality of life, air quality, adding sidewalks, improving downtown infrastructure with “complete streets”, adding bike shares and more.

Governor Jared Polis said, “Between the recent smoke-filled air and the extreme weather that caused devastating mudslides in Glenwood Canyon, Colorado has received powerful reminders of the importance of taking bold climate action as it continues to threaten our economy and Colorado way of life. Transportation is our largest source of air pollutants, and this standard will help ensure that Coloradans have every possible ability to make a difference.”

The proposed Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Planning Standard builds on the expansion of electric vehicles and addresses the transportation infrastructure for clean transportation. This strategy will deliver on a commitment that is part of the Greenhouse Gas Roadmap as a key provision of the state’s landmark transportation legislation.

“What we build matters. It matters for safety, for our economy, for resiliency, and for our ability to reduce air pollution and improve the quality of places where Coloradans across the state live and thrive,” said Shoshana Lew, executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation. “This draft standard wouldn’t be possible without the hundreds of hours of input we’ve received over the last few months, and I look forward to hearing from all stakeholders on this draft.”

CDOT has been reaching out to Coloradans for months, worked with various groups and metropolitan planning organization staff and board members, contractors, equity organizations representing marginalized communities, local governments, members of the Transportation Commission and others.

In the process of developing the standard, the department created a Greenhouse Gas Advisory Group made of transportation stakeholders from across the state, has held 11 public regional meetings, five joint state listening sessions with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and has held or presented at over 60 smaller meetings with stakeholders. 

“The Transportation Commission is pleased to take this important step today to lead Colorado’s transition to a more sustainable transportation system, which will promote efficiency, equity and economic vitality while preserving our Colorado way of life,” said Transportation Commission Chair Kathy Hall.

Publication of the draft standard begins a 60-day public review period. CDOT will host public hearings in Grand Junction, Glenwood Springs, Fort Collins, the Denver metropolitan area, Colorado Springs, Durango and Limon. The hearings will have a virtual option as well. For those interested in submitting a written comment, you may submit a written comment during the 60-day comment period between Friday, Aug. 13 until Friday, Oct. 15. Sign up to become a stakeholder and receive updates here.

The Transportation Commission is expected to consider the proposed standard in November, and if adopted, it will take effect in January of 2022.

For more information, read CDOT’s fact sheet on the greenhouse gas standard process.

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