Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Colorado Springs locals advocate for clean cars

Posted By on Tue, Apr 30, 2019 at 3:17 PM

click to enlarge From left: Retired Lt. Col. Hal Bidlack, energy consultant John Duprey, medical and public health student Jake Fox, and City Councilor Tom Strand speak in support of clean car standards. - FAITH MILLER
  • Faith Miller
  • From left: Retired Lt. Col. Hal Bidlack, energy consultant John Duprey, medical and public health student Jake Fox, and City Councilor Tom Strand speak in support of clean car standards.

City Councilor Tom Strand was among a group of locals who spoke out against the Donald Trump administration's rollback of clean car standards at a press conference April 24.

Strand, along with retired Lt. Col. Hal Bidlack, energy consultant John Duprey, and medical and public health student Jake Fox, urged action to oppose the move.

"I'm just asking everyone, in particular our two United States senators, Sen. Bennet and Sen. Gardner, to do what they can to ensure that these rollbacks are reconsidered," Strand said. "I think that if we continue on with the clean-car standards into the second phase that we'll in fact have more jobs in our state, we'll in fact create a much healthier environment."

The clean car standards Strand referred to were implemented under the Barack Obama administration in 2012. They were aimed at cutting down on harmful pollution from vehicle emissions, and came in two phases: 2012-2016 and 2017-2025.

But the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have moved to roll back the initiative, freezing emission standards at 2020 levels.

Fox emphasized the public health risks of the rollback.

"In El Paso County it's estimated we have about 13,000 children, and 60,000 adults with asthma and chronic lung disease," Fox said. "When they breathe polluted air, they are much more likely to land in our emergency departments and intensive care units. It's imperative that we keep our air clean to protect these vulnerable populations in our communities."

In response to the proposed rollback last year, Colorado — along with 13 other states and the District of Columbia — will adopt its own Low Emission Vehicle Program standards for cars and trucks, modeled after California's. Gov. John Hickenlooper began that state rule-making process with a June executive order, which was finalized by a unanimous vote of approval from the state Air Quality Control Commission in November.

The Colorado Automobile Dealers Association sued the state government over the new standards in February, alleging that they would hurt working families by increasing automobile prices. Colorado Senate Republicans released a statement supporting the lawsuit.

Duprey, a local energy consultant and the owner of The e-bike Company, called such state and local environmental policies "the last line of defense for the health and the economies of our communities."
"Colorado, D.C. and 13 other states have exercised their rights under the Clean Air Act to establishing strong pollution standards to protect our citizens and our environment," Duprey added. "Having clean air to breathe is a basic human right. It does not belong only to those who are wealthy enough to live in environments where they're not affected by that."

Retired Lt. Col. Bidlack emphasized that rolling back emission standards could increase the harmful effects of global warming.

"Back in 1998, I was asked to write the first draft of the Department of Defense's statement on  the effect of climate change on the U.S. national security, and then I had two major conclusions," he said. "The first is that it will cause new conflict and the second is it will act as a force multiplier and will make other situations worse in traditional combat."

On Jan. 17, Gov. Jared Polis ordered the Department of Public Health and Environment to also develop a proposal for a Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program, which would require manufacturers to supply dealers with a certain number of electric vehicles. The state's Air Quality Control Commission will decide in May whether to approve CDPHE's proposed ZEV program.

After the event, Strand expressed more caution when asked about his support for a ZEV program.

"I think that technology needs to be worked on very carefully," Strand said. "In terms of zero emissions, that's a great goal, but I don't think we ought to jump into that too quick."

Strand called himself "kind of a moderate," saying that was why he didn't mention climate change in his remarks, "because I know that there are different sides to that argument."

"But I do think that the clean car standards just make eminent good sense, that we continue along that path," he said. "And I think since we're, as a city and a state, we're kind of a right-to-rule kind of a community ... to have these things pushed down on us by either the federal EPA or the National Transportation Agency is something that I think we ought to take a hard look at."

A video of the event was live-streamed on the Facebook page of Defend Our Future Colorado, a project of the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund. However, Ashley Lynch, a senior account executive with Resolute Consulting who publicized the event, said it was not organized by Defend Our Future or any one organization but was the product of concerned citizens coming together.

Defend Our Future, which has team members on college campuses in Colorado, Arizona and Pennsylvania, is focused on "building a diverse coalition of partners that share the goal of finding actionable and common sense solutions to solving climate change," according to its Facebook page.

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