The Denver metropolitan area heads into its fifth annual Better Air Campaign on Tuesday, trying to reduce carbon monoxide levels that are among the highest in the country and threaten its federal highway funds.
The campaign, which runs in six counties through Jan. 31, seeks to get residents to cut back on wood burning and reduce the 3.5-million miles driven daily.
It will be augmented by state-mandated use of cleaner-burning oxygenated gasoline between Tuesday and Feb. 28.
The clean-air campaign aims to reduce average daily carbon monoxide levels in the mile-high metropolitan area by up to 19%. The oxygenated fuels program is expected to yield an additional 12% reduction.
Last season’s combined effort dropped Denver from first to seventh place on the Environmental Protection Agency list of worst cities for carbon monoxide pollution.
60% Wood-Burning Drop
“We’re hoping to get about a 10% drop in vehicle miles driven on a daily basis and also a 60% participation rate throughout the entire metro area on the wood-burning part of the program,” said Brad Beckham, director of the state Health Department’s Air Pollution Control Division.
Behind the campaign is an EPA threat to cut off federal highway money if the guidelines are not met.
EPA guidelines say carbon monoxide should not exceed nine parts per million. In 1970, Denver’s levels exceeded that level on 140 occasions. Last winter, Denver exceeded the level only 19 times, said campaign coordinator Anne Grady.