Guest Columns

JACKSON: JUST IN TIME FOR EARTH DAY

Cleaner cars part of solution this Earth Day

Colorado consumers face a dilemma: How can we continue to conveniently travel on a daily basis to work, school or home while limiting our impact on the environment?

I love my bicycle and ride it regularly but it’s not a replacement for my car. And light rail doesn’t go everywhere I need to go.


Car makers and dealers understand both our dependence on vehicles as well as the importance of addressing pollution. They have harnessed innovation to build and market cleaner vehicles that have a limited impact on the environment.

The good news is that the automobile industry has made advancements in hybrid, flexible fuel, electric and clean diesel technologies, which have gained popularity among environmentally savvy and cost-sensitive consumers. The bad news is that there are still thousands of high-polluting vehicles on the road.

Cars today are far cleaner than they were 30 years ago, which is why one older high-polluting vehicle (also referred to as a high emitter) can release as much particulate emissions into the environment as roughly 100 new cars.

Retired University of Denver Professor Dr. Don Stedman, a national expert on air quality issues, concluded that fewer than 5 percent of all automobiles in our state account for half of vehicle particulate emissions.

Throughout the course of his research, Stedman came to the conclusion that improving our environment depends on more than just new technology. If we want a cleaner future, we must also find a way to clear our air of the old, high emitting vehicles that pollute the environment most.

Colorado’s Clear the Air Foundation (www.cleartheairfoundation.org) is taking on the challenge of getting high emitters off Colorado’s roads. It’s an important step towards improving the quality of the air we breathe and is the first project of its kind in the nation.

The Clear the Air Foundation is a nonprofit organization committed to helping Coloradans who suffer from asthma or other breathing disorders by improving air quality in our state. It focuses on lessening the amount of pollution emitted by old or not properly maintained vehicles by getting them off the road for good.

The Foundation accepts old, high-emitting cars as donations and then transfers the vehicles to auto recyclers who dismantle the vehicles. The engines, shells and frames are crushed by the recyclers, guaranteeing that the vehicles will never again meet the pavement. This year, the foundation plans to remove 1,000 high emitters from Colorado’s roads.

Consumers who donate their high emitting vehicle this Earth Day not only receive the peace of mind that comes with improving our environment, but they also receive a tax deduction, as they would from any other car donation program. But, unlike the other vehicle donation programs that may put vehicles back on the road, drivers who give their car to the Clear the Air Foundation know that it will never pollute again.

Earth Day offers not only an opportunity to consider the importance of the environment but also a chance to do our part to improve it. Consumers and automobile dealers alike can make strides towards clearing Colorado’s air and improving the quality of life in our great state.

Tim Jackson is president of the Clear the Air Foundation and the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association.