We are in unique times. The state legislature recently wrapped up a history-making session after taking a break for the COVID-19 shutdown.
Though it was interrupted and marked by difficult budget cuts, we did see a couple of significant wins for cleaning up air pollution. Bills passed that will increase fines for air and water quality violations and that will require notification to surrounding communities in the case of an unauthorized emission of air pollutants.
This is important to me personally as a Denver resident with respiratory issues and as a mom of two kids, one of whom has asthma. It’s also particularly relevant for everyone today as we are dealing with a respiratory pandemic in an area with an air pollution problem.
Recently, I read the American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report and was frightened to see that Denver/Aurora was in the top 10 of the most polluted metro areas in the country.
And, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that individuals with pre-existing conditions such as asthma or lung disease could be at higher risk for getting severe complications from COVID-19.
I do my best to keep us all safe and healthy, but I am now more aware than ever that we must do more to cut pollution and clean our air.
Not only is the air we breathe polluted, but that same pollution is also contributing to our warming climate. As our climate continues to warm, unless we take action to cut the pollution and toxins our daily activities are spewing into the atmosphere, scientists also predict there will be an increase of new airborne viruses and we have no idea how bad or deadly these new viruses could be.
Let’s listen to the scientists and use science as our guide. Ideologies and opinions should no longer determine our public policies.
One area where Colorado’s state leadership can and should take action is to tighten regulations that will cut methane emissions and reduce ozone pollution.
The oil and gas industry needs to be held more accountable for the pollution they cause. Methane is one of the largest sources contributing to climate warming emissions. It needs to be controlled and it can be done so.
Another area to address emissions is our transportation system. We have all seen and heard about the dramatic changes in our skies when folks stayed home and out of their cars.
Now, that may not be practical for the long term as we enter this new normal, but we should find new ways to get even more electric vehicles on the road. As the electricity we use becomes cleaner with more renewables added to the grid, we can clear our skies with cleaner cars, trucks, city buses and school buses.
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Now is the time for Colorado to boldly act at the state, county and city levels to do everything we can to cut harmful emissions like methane and ozone pollution.
Now is the time to listen to the scientists and heed their guidance on how we can clean our air and stay healthy. My kids deserve healthy lives, clear skies and clean air. We all do.
Holly Morton Chione, a member of Colorado Mountain Mamas, lives in Denver with her husband and two kids and is the Broker/Owner of Morton Properties.
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