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New Colorado Air Quality Plan Encourages Alternatives To Driving To Work

DENVER (CBS4)- The State of Colorado is taking a new approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and it might impact how you get to and from work. A new rule by the Air Quality Control Commission would require hundreds of businesses to limit the number of people who drive to work.

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It's called the Employee Trip Reduction Plan and it's aimed at addressing the number one cause of pollution in Colorado -- transportation.

"It's an ozone alert day today and we have unhealthy air and if we want to do something about it, and I sure as heck want to have cleaner air,  than we need to reduce the amount of pollution coming from our transportation sector," says Danny Katz, head of CoPIRG, an environmental and consumer advocacy group.

The rule would impact every business with more than 100 employees in the nine ozone non-attainment counties of Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, Jefferson and parts of Larimer and Weld.

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The state estimates those businesses employ about 900,000 Coloradans. A total of 25% or 225,000 of them would have to work from home or walk, bike or bus to work by 2023, and 40% percent or 360,000 workers would have to do so by 2025.

The rule also requires businesses to hire a transportation coordinator by January of next year to track how every employee is getting to work, come up with an employee trip reduction plan and submit a progress report each year to the state. First responders, truckers and people who drive electric vehicles are exempt.

"It's the absolute definition of bureaucratic absurdity," says Kelly Sloan with the Freedom to Drive Coalition.

He says the rule is unrealistic, "Whether its retailers, whether its manufacturers, hospitals, airports, you name it, they're trying to put restrictions on people getting to jobs that don't have those options."

Katz says nearly half of those with jobs in downtown Denver already get to work without a car, "It can work because we're already seeing it happen."

But he says the state will need to expand mass transit, "We're all in this together and if we want cleaner air, we all have to do our part."

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Sloan says the state should do its part too and measure how much carbon reduction the rule will accomplish and, he says, it hasn't, "If you're asking people to sacrifice in that way, they should at least be able to tell us what the benefit is going to be."

At this point, there is no penalty for not reaching the goal, but that could change.

The Air Quality Control Commission will hold hearings and finalize the rule over the next few months.

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