Colorado is getting serious about its air quality in more ways than one. Ever since the EPA raised their air quality status from “Serious” to “Severe”, Governor Polis and his office have been on the move. The Colorado General Assembly just passed several bills to help combat pollution and emissions. This is all part of Polis’ commitment to improving the state’s air quality. The Democrat-sponsored bills should do a lot to help Colorado stay green, but they’re not going to be cheap. More than $125 million in grants, incentives, and funds will assist Colorado in its efforts to become a more environmentally friendly state. The plan will also see higher gas prices and more businesses required to obtain clean air permits to help combat harmful emissions.
One of the bills plans to set aside $47 million in new funding to expand Colorado’s Department of Public Health (CDPHE). The Environment’s Air Pollution Control Division will see most of that money. The CDPHE currently runs on a $625 million budget, with most of the funds going to controlling disease and department administration. The Environment’s Air Pollution Control Division is in desperate need if they plan to seriously fight the worsening air quality that Denver residents breathe every day.
Air Quality Bill by the Numbers
The Bill, SB22-193, plans to send funds to various departments of the State Health Department and the Colorado Energy Office. These funds will help create grants for electric vehicles and energy efficient projects. There are a number of projects the funds have their eye on. For instance, $25 million alone will fund grants for industrial and manufacturing facilities to improve their energy efficiency. Qualifying businesses will improve their use of hydrogen fuel, electric vehicles, and focus on projects that reduce carbon and methane emissions. However, this grant won’t last for long and is set to dissolve on September 1st, 2029.
Another program will spend $12 million to fund public-access electric bicycles. It is unclear whether this is for a publicly operated electric bicycle initiative as a means for public transportation. They could also issue grants to help citizens purchase private e-bikes for personal use. The program will hold funds until September 1st, 2028 for the purchases of e-bikes.
They list an additional $15 million to help decommission old diesel trucks and replace them with more fuel-efficient models. Private and public businesses can apply for these grants until July 1st, 2032.
The public education sector is also set to improve drastically with $65 million to purchase electric school buses. School children are always a concern when it comes to breathing in toxic emissions.
To help the state understand more about their emissions problem and help develop future ways to combat the problem, $7 million will help fund the state health department’s aerial surveillance program. This can give the state a better understanding of what is working and what they need to improve on.
Lastly, the state plans to offer free RTD public transportation passes for employees. This $750K initiative should help keep more cars off the road.
Colorado’s Future looks Green
All of this, if done properly and timely, should help Colorado move towards a greener state. The funds are substantial, and the short-term effects will create a financial burden on residents and businesses. However, there really isn’t any other option. The Environmental Protection Agency is done issuing warnings to the State of Colorado. The state already has the worst rating the agency can offer. Fines, taxes, and penalties will start to add up. At least this way, the money that would have gone to these EPA fines will go to improving the state. Colorado has a long road ahead, but in this case, the grass is certainly greener on the other side.