2017 Air Quality Action Plan

What is the goal of the 2017 Air Quality Action Plan?

The 2017 Air Quality Action Plan (Plan) was written to reduce air pollution from Colorado’s transportation sector.

What does air quality have to do with transportation?

In 2017, most vehicles are still powered by burning fuel in the engine. The majority of emissions from vehicles that burn fuel are by-products of this combustion process. The combustion process results in emissions released from the tailpipe of what are called criteria pollutants, mobile source air toxics (MSATs), and greenhouse gases (GHGs). 

What is CDOT doing about air quality?

Many of CDOT’s roles and responsibilities, programs and initiatives, and actions have a positive effect on air quality, even if they are primarily carried out for another reason. Here are some examples:

  • Accomplishes mitigation actions and strategies for GHG reduction as outlined in the transportation chapter of the Colorado Climate Plan, published by Colorado state government
  • Coordinates on air quality issues with its planning partners (five metropolitan planning organizations and 10 rural regional planning commissions).Improves travel time reliability and safety through technology, innovative programs and strategies, targeted traffic management activities, and safety improvements. Many of these efforts have the potential to reduce air pollutants.
  • Plans, develops, operates, and integrates transit and rail into the statewide transportation system.
  • Supports the purchase of alternative fuel vehicles and charging infrastructure statewide.

Why should I care about air quality?

Transportation-related pollutants cause adverse health and welfare effects. For example:

  • Particulate matter may aggravate breathing difficulties, damage lung tissue, alter the body’s defense against foreign materials, and lead to premature death.
  • Ozone aggravates respiratory problems, and can lead to pulmonary congestion.
  • GHGs negatively affect public health and welfare through the increased likelihood of more frequent and intense heat waves, more wildfires, degraded air quality, more heavy downpours and flooding, increased drought, more intense storms, and harm to agriculture, wildlife, and ecosystems.

What is Colorado’s air quality like today?

Colorado’s ozone nonattainment area and maintenance areas for carbon monoxide and particulate matter are shown in Figure 1. A nonattainment area is one that is not meeting federal ambient air quality standards. Maintenance areas are areas that were once nonattainment areas but are now meeting federal ambient air quality standards.

What is Colorado doing to reduce ozone from the transportation sector?

Measures to reduce ozone include:

  • A vehicle inspection/maintenance program in the North Front Range.
  • More stringent inspection/maintenance cut-points in the Denver area.
  • Tighter emissions requirements for older collector vehicles.

How does CDOT know if its actions are improving air quality?

The Plan describes three performance measures that CDOT will report on annually to determine if the cumulative impact of its activities might be improving air quality (See Appendix C). They are:

  • Statewide motor vehicle criteria pollutant and GHG emissions
  • Statewide on-road gasoline consumption
  • Statewide GHG tailpipe emissions (uses different calculation method than measure in first bullet).

What’s next for CDOT?

  • Annually update all Plan appendices to monitor progress on improving air quality.
  • Carry out research.
  • Perform activities as described in Appendix B.