A recently released report showed that even the Roaring Fork Valley is not immune to the consequences of air pollution – and no, it’s not all because of wildfires.
Glenwood Springs and Gunnison County each experienced 55 days of high air pollution, according to a new report from the Environment Colorado Research & Policy Center, the CoPIRG Foundation and the Frontier Group.
Rex Wilmouth, senior program director at the Environment Colorado and the Environment Colorado Research and Policy Center, would agree – after presenting the report’s findings, compiled from Environmental Protection Agency 2020 data, via a virtual presentation Wednesday morning, he was more determined than ever to want to see an overhaul of major energy sources and current production in the state and country.
“The main thing is that we have to keep changing the way we produce our energy and how we move. In Aspen, a good example is electric buses, as well as school buses. People are, we have a fleet of diesel buses and we need to start replacing them with electric buses, ”Wilmouth said in a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon.
It’s a somewhat opportune sentiment, as the nonprofit Carbondale Clean Energy Economy for the Region teamed up with Loveland-based electric vehicle maker Lightning e-Motors on Friday to showcase two different models of commercial electric fleet vehicles. for local organizations and members of the public to browse and test drive earlier this month.
“There is a lot of interest and excitement around EVs, and we’re starting to see more and more EVs on the road and in the news,” Stefan Johnson, CLEER director of transportation, told the Aspen Daily News after this demonstration. “In this context, there are also some very good new options on the market in terms of fleets. Lightning e-Motors specializes in this sweet spot of commercial size vehicles for fleets. “
Wilmouth also agreed that the technology has come a long way over the past few decades, particularly in that it has made education efforts on the benefits of renewable and cleaner energy easier to tackle, even with people economically connected to more traditional processes, such as the use of fracking and hydraulic fracturing. oil drilling rigs for power generation.
“I was just at a conference where Xcel [Energy] was talking about transition – when they shut down the coal plants, being able to switch their workforce to renewables, and they’re having great success, ”he said. “They said they weren’t losing employees – they were replacing them and recycling them on solar and wind power.”
And while he answered a few questions Wednesday morning about whether the bulk of air pollution in Colorado – Denver has at times ranked the No.1 city in the world, including as late as August. , for air pollution – could be attributed to the wildfires that have consumed much of the West in recent years, Wilmouth pointed out that Colorado and Glenwood Springs have seen more days with ozone being the contributing factor to unhealthy air as the particles associated with forest fires.
“One of the main sources of air pollution is transportation,” Wilmouth said. “As our driving resumed in 2021, you can be sure that the pollution from our vehicles has kept pace. If we are to reduce these terrible numbers and save lives, we must wean ourselves from burning fossil fuels to get around. “
And the impacts are sometimes fatal in nature, he added.
“On days of heavy pollution, there are more deaths from air pollution. As we go through the year you can see that the bad air days are the days when more people die, ”he said in an interview. “You talk about living in Aspen, which is a beautiful place where some people may not feel like they are breathing poor air – but it can very well happen because we still generate our energy from fossil fuels. . And we need to move away from fossil fuels and go electric. “
Megan Tackett is the editor of the Aspen Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter @ MeganTackett10.