Op-Ed: Cory Gardner Isn't Protecting Coloradans From Pollution

The air might look cleaner today, but the future is cloudy.
The air might look cleaner today, but the future is cloudy.
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The outbreak of coronavirus has already had an incredibly detrimental impact on the health and safety of Coloradans, especially those with asthma or other pre-existing respiratory conditions. In fact, a new study has shown that coronavirus patients exposed to higher levels of air pollution are 15 percent more likely to die than those who live in less polluted areas.

In 2020, transportation surged past electricity as Colorado's top source of pollution. What this public health crisis has made abundantly clear is that the health inequities that already existed for communities living near polluted corridors — like major highway corridors — increase the risks and morbidity for people who are dealing with coronavirus.

Rather than choosing to listen to doctors, public health experts and scientists, President Donald Trump chose to use coronavirus as a distraction in order to execute his harmful agenda and enact new legislation to loosen environmental health standards. Most alarming is his plan to roll back the nation's clean car standards, which would effectively permit cars to release billions of tons of additional carbon dioxide into the air.

In rolling back clean car standards, the Trump administration abandoned one of the most effective safeguards we had on the books for fighting the climate crisis, which is a threat multiplier that puts humanity’s health at further risk. This shameless move by the Trump Administration is estimated to cost nearly every state at least $1 billion in net consumer losses, and cost all Americans a total of $300 billion in net losses.

Senator Cory Gardner’s silence on this issue suggests that he stands with Trump, Mitch McConnell and the big
polluters who help fund his campaign. Senator Gardner has accepted over $1.5 million from big oil donors and helped dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency — making it easier for polluters to contaminate the water we drink and the air we breathe. Is adding pollution to our air during a public health crisis in Colorado’s best interest? I cannot think of a clearer test of party vs. people.

Senator Gardner, we want to know what you think of Trump rolling back these standards that will pollute our air even more and negatively impact us during and after an outbreak of a deadly respiratory virus. If you stand for Coloradans’ health and safety, please do your part and fight to protect the well-being of our state. We deserve clean air — and we deserve your leadership during this crisis.

Emily Gedeon is the Colorado Sierra Club's acting chapter director. She grew up right here in Colorado and loves skiing, hiking and gardening.

Westword occasionally publishes op-eds and essays on matters of concern to Colorado residents. Have one you'd like to submit? Send it to editorial@westword.com.

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