Colorado air regulators have decided to limit a regulatory initiative to reduce employee traffic to the Front Range after hearing concerns about the idea of applying it statewide.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Air Pollution Control Division is moving toward drafting a proposed Employee Traffic Reduction Program rule, which is intended to help cut greenhouse gas emissions in the state.
The goal is to require larger companies to develop plans to cut driving by commuters via means such as telecommuting, public transit, ride-sharing and bicycling.
Last month, regulatory staff said they were exploring a statewide requirement that potentially would apply wherever at least 100 people work at a single location.
After stakeholder feedback, regulators are now focusing the program on a Front Range area that is not in attainment with a federal standard for levels of ground-level ozone, which is harmful to human health.
They’re continuing to eye a rule applying to workplaces of 100 people or more.
Diane Schwenke, president and CEO of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, had argued for limiting the proposed rule only to the Front Range ozone nonattainment area, with its heavy traffic congestion.
She cited challenges an employee traffic reduction rule would create locally, such as a lack of mass transit on the scale available on the Front Range, and the fact that telecommuting isn’t possible in the case of some jobs.
Lauren McDonnell, a climate change outreach planner at Health and Environment, announced the revised focus in an email to stakeholders.
“The state of Colorado has held several listening sessions on the upcoming transportation greenhouse gas … reduction rule concepts, and we’ve heard valuable input from a diverse range of stakeholders,” McDonnell said in the email.
Schwenke said by email that she’s glad Health and Environment initiated listening sessions on the proposed rule “and that they listened to us. The problem they are trying to address is really focused on the Front Range and that is where the solutions should be implemented.
“Rural parts of the state have very different commuting patterns, more physically dispersed employees and less access to the multimodal options than the urban core of the state. The increased burden on businesses in Grand Junction and other areas on the Western Slope would not have resulted in a substantial benefit in terms of air quality.”
The Air Quality Control Commission may hold a hearing on an employee traffic-reduction rule proposal by August. It’s part of a larger rulemaking effort seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants from the transportation sector, now the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the state.
Other rulemaking initiatives are to include adopting a greenhouse gas emission standard for the transportation sector and improving the efficiency of Colorado’s current inspection program targeting vehicle emissions.
A bill passed in 2019 set goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state by 26% in 2025, 50% in 2030 and 90% in 2050, compared to 2005 levels.