COLORADO SPRINGS — The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission wants to lower greenhouse gas emissions in our state by reducing the number of people commuting to work alone in gas-powered vehicles. A proposed rule would ask large employers with a workforce of more than 100 people in the Denver area to voluntarily create an Employer Traffic Reduction Program (ETRP.) Participating employers would strive to reach a reduction in single-occupant vehicles (SOV) to less than 60 percent of their staff.
In 2019, Colorado lawmakers passed House Bill 1261 which tasks the commission with creating rules to help achieve a 16 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, a 50 percent reduction by 2030, and an 80 percent reduction by 2050.
The commission had previously proposed a rule that mandated large employers develop traffic reduction programs if they are located in the Ozone nonattainment area of Colorado, which includes Denver, Arapahoe, Adams, Boulder, Broomfield, Jefferson, Douglas, and parts of Larimer and Weld counties.
That initial proposal drew strong opposition from the business community who saw the move as government overreach.
"How Coloradans commute to work shouldn't be the concern of state government, and a mandatory approach to reducing employee commutes would be overreaching, impractical, and inequitable," Katie Wolf, Director of State Governmental Affairs for the Colorado Chamber of Commerce, said in a news release.
The commission announced Monday that it would make certain elements of the proposal voluntary and focus on data gathering instead.
"We're fortunate in Colorado to have so many businesses that are so committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and ozone pollution," Andrew Bare, Communications and Outreach Specialist for the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, said in a statement.
"After extensive discussions with stakeholders, we're re-focusing the Employee Traffic Reduction Program proposal on collaborative data collection and voluntary participation."
The new rule requires employers to conduct a survey of their staff to determine how they get work. It also offers incentives for early adopters such as receiving credits toward future mandates.
"We appreciate that the commission has taken our feedback seriously and will be revising its proposal from a mandatory to a voluntary program. We look forward to reviewing the new ETRP plan when it is released," Wolf added.
A public hearing on this proposal is scheduled for August 18.