The 6th Sustainable Transportation Summit, “Clear the Air”, convened on Thursday, July 28 at the Origin Hotel in Westminster, Colorado.
The gathering was a unique opportunity to explore air quality and environmental topics in-depth through timely information and conversations provided by three subject matter experts in environmental law and policy, public health as impacted by air quality, and transportation initiatives and actions as they apply to Colorado.
The panel discussion was moderated by Mike Silverstein, Executive Director of the Regional Air Quality Council, and included Martha Rudolph, an environmental lawyer and policy expert currently a member of the Air Quality Control Commission; Dr. Anthony Gerber, a professor of medicine and the Director of Pulmonary Research at National Jewish Health; and the Deputy Executive Director and Director of Policy for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Herman Stockinger.
Panelist Martha Rudolf on Successful Regulation
Martha Rudolf brought summit attendees up-to-speed about recent positive regulatory actions, emphasizing that leadership and collaboration are the keys to successful regulation. “Figure out what other stakeholders’ interests are. Eliminate the silos and work with them to achieve what you want,” Rudolf emphasized during the discussion. “Who are the groups that are impacted? You need the support of the public so they understand what you are doing.”
Panelist Herman Stockinger on the Role of CDOT
On May 19, 2022, the Transportation Commission of Colorado voted to adopt Policy Directive 1610 on greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation measures to establish an administrative process and guidelines for selecting, measuring, verifying, and reporting greenhouse gas mitigation efforts.
Panelist CDOT Deputy Executive Director Stockinger detailed important ways this measure has influenced his work at CDOT.
“Infrastructure matters to how pollution reduction standards will be met. In 2030, compliance with the new GHG rule will result in 1.5M metric tons of GHG reduction, which is equal to 300,000 vehicles being taken off the roads for a year,” Stockinger said. “A balanced mix of projects in CDOT’s 10-year plan will help get us there. The GHG rule for transportation planning makes us think about the air quality impacts of our plans and projects. We’re now asking ‘what about air quality?’ It’s changing how we think about our projects and that’s a good thing.”
Panelist Dr. Anthony Gerber on Health Impacts
During the panel discussion, Dr. Gerber provided an overview of the health impacts from poor air quality over time for key population groups of healthy adults, children, older adults, pregnant women, at-risk individuals, and low income communities.
“Air quality is the silent killer, and we don’t understand all of the risks. It’s estimated that 100-200K premature deaths are due to air quality—each year,” Dr. Gerber stressed. “We know it causes emphysema. Ozone ages your lungs. Ozone exists outside of the home, and the impacts are more pronounced in older adults. Also in low income neighborhoods located near emitting highways are disproportionately impacted.”
Closing Action Items from Audrey DeBarros
Commuting Solutions Executive Director Audrey DeBarros closed out the day’s events saying “the aim today was to provide everyone attending this Summit with the information they need to make informed and research-based decisions on behalf of the communities they serve. Leaving today’s Summit, I encourage you each to take an action. I’d like to offer a few thoughts on what that could look like:
- Commuting Solutions and the Regional Transportation District (RTD) are excited to partner on Zero Fare for Better Air — a collaborative, statewide initiative designed to reduce ground-level ozone by promoting use of public transit.
- Encourage your friends, family, and colleagues to take advantage of RTD’s Zero Fare for Better Air and ride transit.
- Change up the way you commute! Limit single-vehicle occupancy trips.
- Support pro-environment legislation at the local, state, and federal levels.”
We look forward to seeing you at the next Sustainable Transportation Summit in 2023! For timely information throughout the year and next about news and future events, and the networking and educational opportunities provided by Commuting Solutions, sign up for our monthly newsletter via the form below.