Clean up, Colorado |

Clean up, Colorado

Dana Jurich
Vail CO, Colorado

Mud season is here. I actually enjoy this time of year; all my favorite restaurants offer hefty discounts, the tourists and seasonal employees flee the valley like vampires from sunlight, and the early greens of spring peek out from their winter slumber. The other night brought a light dusting of snow to Avon, and the next morning, while walking out to my car, I noticed something peculiar. Covering my windshield along with every other car parked in the lot was a thick layer of brown grime.

I was stupefied for a minute as I pondered the origin of the dried, obviously snow-borne dirt. Did large dust particles get swept by the wind into the moisture-laden clouds, or is this residue a sampling of poor air quality caused by pollution?

I recently read an article about the environment’s greatest American crusader: Arnold Schwarzenegger and the methods he is employing to help clean up our home planet. He’s hybridized a number of vehicles, most notably a handful of his coveted Hummers in an attempt to lead by example. The article expanded on emissions control (or lack of) in the U.S., and how the Governator is also working to raise the standards on emissions in one of the most polluted cities in the nation.

Why hasn’t Colorado adopted any such measures? Moreover, why are there no emission standards in the beautiful valley we live in? I’ve driven a number of jalopies around town during my life here, and none of them had to pass any sort of emission testing before I put them on the road.

The county recently splurged on a number of hybrid vehicles to reduce its ecological footprint and also lead by example, which is a great start, but appears to be a hypocritical statement since we have no regulations in place concerning auto pollution. Essentially we are still attempting to cover up the problem, rather than fix it.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

Emissions standards should be required on all vehicles registered in Eagle County and in the state. It seems especially imperative to me since 80 percent of Vail Valley’s inhabitants live within spitting distance from a major interstate highway, and breathes carbon monoxide fumes daily.

Twenty years from now I can envision driving up from Denver (in my biodiesel or electric car), cresting Vail Pass and looking down onto a valley with a huge, noxious brown cloud suspended above it. I doubt the tourists will want to spend their vacation skiing on brown snow nor be encouraged by the local authorities to stay inside on certain days rather than breath toxic air.

If the government agencies running this state really wanted to make a statement (and no doubt rustle a few feathers), then an emissions standard would be just the ticket. It would create jobs, generate revenue and reduce greenhouse gasses in one move. It would also make road biking a bit more pleasant.

Standards seem to be the lesser of two evils when bad air quality is on the other side of the scale. Whatever the cost, you deserve clean air and a more enjoyable road biking experience.

Dana Jurich of Avon writes a biweekly column for the Daily. Send comments or questions to

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