Governor Takes Bus to Kick Off Anti-Pollution Campaign
DENVER (AP) _ The city with the nation’s worst carbon monoxide problem kicked off its fourth annual Better Air Campaign on Monday, with Gov. Roy Romer and thousands of other people abandoning their cars and taking buses to work.
The campaign, which runs through Jan. 29, asks motorists to leave their cars at home one day a week and to refrain from burning wood in fireplaces and stoves on high pollution days to help reduce carbon monoxide levels in the metropolitan area.
Motorists also will be required to use cleaner-burning oxygenated fuels for two months in nine counties along the Front Range of Colorado beginning Jan. 1.
The mandatory alternative fuel program was to coincide with the Better Air Campaign, but was delayed at the request of distributors who said they needed some extra time to deliver the oxygenated fuels.
Carbon monoxide levels in metropolitan Denver were the highest in the nation last year, the Environmental Protection Agency reported.
Colorado could lose federal highway dollars and face other restrictions imposed by the EPA if it fails to meet federal clean air guidelines by Dec. 31.
However, state health officials said the EPA has commended Colorado for trying to clean up the air, and that it probably will look for ″good faith″ compliance efforts by the state.
Campaign organizers hope they will be able to reduce carbon monoxide pollutants by 15 percent this year, compared with a 9 percent reduction in 1986.
″All of us have got to take a piece of the sacrifice to clean the air in Denver,″ Romer said Monday. ″None of us are exempt. We all have to do something to help.″
Romer boarded a city bus near the Governor’s Mansion and rode it about seven blocks before getting off in the downtown area.
The governor traveled by car-pooled or bus to the rest of his appointments, and planned to do the same every Monday through the end of the campaign.
Transit officials said it would be several days before they could determine if bus ridership increased at the start of the campaign.
Commuters heading into the downtown area Monday morning were greeted by sign-waving volunteers for the Better Air Campaign stationed at heavy-traffic intersections.
The signs carried the campaign’s slogan, ″We Want to Make It Clear,″ and the organization’s telephone number on a bright blue background.
The governor also made a series of television advertisements, emphasizing that the pollution problem could cost Colorado much-needed new industries. Some businesses have offered employees free bus passes, pay raises or preferred parking and flexible office hours if they participate in the campaign.
Alby Segall, executive director of the Children’s Museum, said the museum offered each of its 15 employees a $200 bonus for participating in the campaign this year.
He said the total cost to the museum would be about $3,000, and added that all 15 employees planned to take part in the program.
″The worst thing we could do for our children is leave a legacy of bad air,″ he said.