Senate passes bill that invests in electric school buses, e-bikes, and grants to reduce air pollution from industrial and manufacturing operations

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DENVER — Following a record number of ozone alert days for the Front Range this past summer, Senate Bill 193, Air Quality Improvement Investments, passed the Senate floor this morning with a 21-13 vote. The bill provides a set of initiatives to combat Colorado’s ongoing air pollution, including $25M for a clean air grant program to reduce air pollution from industrial and manufacturing operations, $65M for electric school buses, and $12M for e-bikes. 

Investing in electric school buses and eliminating diesel tailpipe emissions are particularly important because  diesel exhaust has been classified as a likely carcinogen by the EPA, and has been linked to numerous health problems, including lung cancer, asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia.

“We need to find better ways to get our kids to school that don’t include toxic diesel pollution,” said CoPIRG advocate Alex Simon. “The transition to electric buses not only provides children with a cleaner, safer, healthier ride to and from school but can also be an important piece of Colorado’s strategy to mitigate air pollution from the transportation sector.” 

Electric bikes are another important part of the bill and offer a cheaper and more sustainable alternative to car transportation that brings additional health benefits from the associated exercise. Nearly 50% of trips in the Denver metro region are less than three miles, a distance that can be covered with an e-bike, reducing car traffic and the tailpipe emissions that fuel our dirty air days.

Dozens of groups came out in support of the bill, stressing the importance of tackling Colorado’s poor air quality. The bill comes at the same time the EPA moves to downgrade the northern Front Range from a “serious” to “severe” violator of federal ozone standards.  

“Colorado is a state that prides itself on a healthy, outdoor lifestyle.  This bill makes critical investments in electric transportation that will benefit our air quality, climate, and health of our children,” said Simon.”  

The bill moves next to the House.