Lawmaker proposes state-issued vouchers for emissions repairs

DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado lawmakers continue to work on solutions to push the state to be more eco-friendly. A new proposal at the Capitol looks to reduce vehicle emissions and help you save a little money in the process.

The idea of the measure is to cut down on pollution by helping more drivers pass emissions inspections.

“Our goal is to get us into EPA compliance, which is a standard that is set by the Environmental Protection Agency to tell us this is where we need to be for health and safety reasons, right? So we want to get into compliance, and the way we do that is with my bill,” state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer said.

The senator from Weld County is sponsoring a bill that would give money to drivers who fail emissions tests in some parts of the state so they can repair their cars to meet environmental standards.

“There are anywhere between 5%-10% of the vehicles, the ones that aren’t passing the emissions testing, that are causing about 50% of the VOC (volatile organic compounds) and the NOx (nitrogen oxides) that are in our state. So that’s the pollution, the bad pollution — the precursor to the ozone,” Kirkmeyer said. “So this program is really about, look, I think we are all environmentalists in this state, we want to do our part, and I’m going to help you do our part.”

Denver skyline with visible air pollution
Air pollution in the Denver metro (KDVR)

High-emitter program for nonattainment areas

This new proposal would create a high-emitter program for drivers. To qualify for the program, you would need to live in a nonattainment ozone area.

In Colorado, that would include nine Front Range counties, from Douglas and Denver up to Weld and Larimer. The measure would offer a voucher for up to $850 for drivers of vehicles that fail emissions tests. The voucher would need to be used on repairs to help those vehicles pass emissions tests, with the money coming from a bill passed a few years ago.

“The money is coming out of an enterprise — it’s not like it’s coming out of our general fund,” Kirkmeyer said. “It’s coming out of our nonattainment air pollution mitigation enterprise that was created a couple of years ago in Senate Bill 260, so it’s of those fees from delivery vehicles, so we are going to put that money to work. … and clean up the air. That’s what it’s supposed to be used for, so let’s use it.”

So far, Kirkmeyer is the only sponsor backing the bill. Will lawmakers get behind this concept of helping you as you help the environment? Kirkmeyer thinks they will.

“I haven’t really been able to spend as much time on the bill as I would like to,” Kirkmeyer said. “But I think once I get to committee and they realize the great things that are within this bill — like I said, only one of the components is about the high-emitter program. There is another component that goes after and really tries to continue the incentives to get people to switch their lawn and garden equipment to electric.”

Kirkmeyer said she is working with environmental groups on some amendments for the bill before it gets its committee hearing.

Source: Rocky Mountain News

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