Douglas County will prioritize improving air quality after the transportation master plan and an amendment were approved unanimously by the planning commission Oct. 21. Peter Bierbaum, a planning …
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Douglas County will prioritize improving air quality after the transportation master plan and an amendment were approved unanimously by the planning commission Oct. 21.
Peter Bierbaum, a planning commission board member, brought up the need to add an emphasis on improving air quality during the commission's review. Although this was already listed as a goal in the plan, Bierbaum's amendment added language to reinforce the intention.
“I think we are finally stuck at a point where fuel efficiency alone does not result in improvement in air quality,” he said in the meeting. “We will have to look to other strategies and emerging technologies.”
Including the amendment will encourage the planning staff to do more with regards to air quality than the plan would if left with more generic language, said Steve Koster, assistant director of planning services.
“We still have air quality issues and so keeping open to considering other methods of managing air quality is something that … he (Bierbaum) wanted to make sure was called out more clearly,” he said.
There are two main ways the planning team can work on these improvements: through land use planning and traffic engineering, he said.
For land planning, they work to reduce how many miles people have to travel every day. That means making sure citizens have nearby services, such as schools.
The other way to improve air quality is through traffic improvements, which includes working to keep traffic flowing as quickly as possible, Koster said.
“If a car is efficient but it's idling, that efficiency isn't doing much good,” he said.
In August, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed changing the Denver area from “moderate” to “severe” in terms of attainment for air quality requirements under the Clean Air Act.
That's because the Denver area has been failing to meet national standards, according to an EPA release.
The EPA is now evaluating public comments, which were accepted until mid-September, and will decide on the status by the end of the year, a spokesperson said.
“Air quality is an important consideration for the Douglas County government and residents,” Koster said.
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