An exhaust-ive campaign |

An exhaust-ive campaign

Dear Editor:

I am writing to encourage all citizens of Aspen to begin a grassroots campaign to rid our city of the noxious fumes and smoke emitted by diesel-powered vehicles, which pollute our air and lungs. Today I personally took my first step by reporting to the city a dump truck I observed spewing this filth from its exhaust stack between the airport and the Castle Creek bridge. A good friend of mine has already been doing this for some time, but so far the city has done next to nothing about this pollution. Come on, city ” this should be easy under your Canary Initiative.

In speaking to the city representative I learned the following: Aspen has an opacity test as to whether such vehicle emissions are beyond the limits in our city ordinance. Basically, if you can see significant emissions coming out of the vehicle’s exhaust, it is very likely in violation. When a person calls the city Environmental Health office, they will take down the information you give them and they then pass the information along to the police department. The police then contact the owner of the vehicle to pursue the matter, and if appropriate cite the owner as being in violation.

The city police department has limited resources, of course, and has to prioritize areas in which it can focus enforcement efforts. I believe if enough of us as citizens report these polluting violators to the city, the priority of enforcement by the police will increase; and we can hope our city will be rid of this pollution. So, I encourage all citizens of Aspen when you see one of these smoking disasters on wheels, write down the license plate number and other identifying information (e.g. name of company or organization painted on the side of the vehicle) and then call the Environmental Health department at 920-5039 to report the likely violator.

The truth is that a properly tuned diesel engine using good quality diesel fuel should not produce such visible, opaque emissions from its exhaust. The owners and operators of these polluting vehicles are simply saving themselves money by not keeping their engine properly tuned or else are buying very low quality diesel fuel. They are saving this money, naturally, at the cost of our physical health and our beautiful environment.

If enough of us take the time and effort to do this relatively simple act, we can eventually eliminate one of the worst sources of air pollution fouling our clean mountain air, which unfortunately is becoming less clean with each passing day.

Robert Auld