CoPIRG calls for full funding of the Clean Fleet Enterprise

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On February 16th, CoPIRG submitted a statement to the Clean Fleet Enterprise Board in support of establishing the fees that will fund the Clean Fleet Enterprise pursuant to SB21-260 (fees on home delivery and TNC rides), and setting them at the maximum amount allowed. This is the comment we submitted:

Dear Clean Fleet Enterprise Board,

We are writing in support of establishing the fees that will fund the Clean Fleet Enterprise pursuant to SB21-260 (fees on home delivery and TNC rides), and setting them at the maximum amount allowed.

At CoPIRG, we stand up for a healthier and safer world, starting with the air we breathe here in our own state. The negative impacts of Colorado’s growing air pollution problem are being felt by all residents on a regular basis. This past summer, the Denver Metro Northern Front Range surpassed the record of 53 ozone alert days in a single season. During ozone alerts officials from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE) warn residents of unhealthy conditions and urge some people to remain indoors.  

Tailpipe emissions from internal combustion engines release particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds that contribute to ozone pollution.  In Colorado, the transportation sector is the highest emitter of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the state. While passenger vehicles are the largest source of air pollution within this sector, medium and heavy-duty vehicles (MDHVs) are a close second

Nationally, MDHVs account for almost a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions in the US despite comprising only 5% of all vehicles on the road. In the Denver Metro area, MHDVs account for less than 2% of all vehicle miles traveled, but contribute 24% of on-road NOx emissions.

According to Environment America’s Trouble in the Air report, many counties in Colorado had elevated levels of pollution throughout 2020.  With Boulder County reporting a whopping 151 days of elevated ozone and/or particulate matter in 2020, Greeley reporting 147 days, and Denver-Aurora-Lakewood reporting 129 days, over 3.6 million Coloradans experience elevated levels of air pollution on more than 30% of days in 2020.    

Particulate matter and ozone pollution associated with transportation and MDHVs has negative health impacts for all residents, however it can have a disproportionate impact on people who live near trucking corridors, ports, bus depots, and distribution hubs because this kind of air pollution is localized. 

Eliminating fossil fuels and tailpipe emissions from the transportation sector will spur significant reductions in ozone and greenhouse gas emissions, leading to improvements in air quality.  To achieve this goal, we must convert all transportation systems to zero emissions, including medium and heavy-duty vehicles (MHDVs), to 100% zero-emission vehicles including electric-powered. 

Electric-powered trucks have several health and environmental benefits to diesel and gas-powered vehicles.  By using electricity rather than combusting fossil fuels, they significantly reduce the emission of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particle pollution that fuel ozone pollution.  To help illustrate the impact of this change, the American Lung Association compared a “Business As Usual” fleet to an “Electric Vehicle Scenario” nationally  and estimated the following impacts by the year 2050: 82% reduction in nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution, a 62% reduction in fine particle pollution, and a 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. 

Establishing a clean fleet enterprise will incentivize the use of electric motor vehicles and other technologies by owners and operators of motor vehicle fleets.

Establishing the fees to fund the clean fleet enterprise is a critical step in tackling Colorado’s air pollution, combating climate change, and creating a healthier and safer state and world to live in. The urgency of Colorado’s air pollution and implications for future public health necessitate setting the fees at the maximum allowed level to advance the program as quickly as possible.