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 September 1, 1999

Consortium’s work never done — fight off pollution

BOULDER — “Air … it was never meant to be seen.” Most people in these health-conscious days would heartily agree with that slogan from the Boulder County Clean Air Consortium, or BCCAC.

The consortium operates under the wing of the environmental health section of the Boulder County Health Department, which helps with such things as coordinating meetings and providing a venue, sending out information and recruiting members.

Anne Kaufmann, a pollution prevention specialist with the department, describes the BCCAC as “pretty unique” because it is one of the few such organizations bringing together members from the private and public sectors.

Kaufmann says while a number of BCCAC members are from groups or companies directly involved in clean air or pollution issues, “every single business which uses energy has a stake in air quality.”

Although Colorado is associated with open space and fresh air, the state’s growing population, industry and traffic are all beginning to take their toll. Residents should all be able to breath a little easier, however, thanks to the consortium’s efforts.

BCCAC is most active in the area of education and increasing public awareness about air quality issues. The consortium hosts various events and forums looking at air quality and pollution prevention, and encourages voluntary mitigation policies and programs.

The group also has had an impact through the sharing of ideas, expertise and resources, sponsorship of a business mentoring program and the development of a clean air lesson kit for students in Boulder Valley and St. Vrain school districts.

Gabi Hoefler, who’s also with the county health department, says BCCAC has been successful in getting information to businesses and the wider community on practical ways in which to cut pollution.

This includes ozone alert programs that look at such things as reducing the use of cars, for example, by promoting alternatives such as telecommuting or public transport, and the annual pre-winter “brown cloud” presentation.

The “brown cloud” is a phenomenon in the Denver metro area and along the Front Range signaling poor air quality and caused when temperature inversions trap a layer of pollution close to the ground.

This year’s awareness kick-off to the high pollution season will begin with a breakfast meeting at the Raintree Plaza Hotel in Longmont on Nov. 9. The session is expected to run most of that morning, featuring a range of speakers, special guests and discussion groups.

The Clean Air Consortium currently has more than 40 members — a mix of businesses, individuals and other organizations — scattered throughout Boulder, Denver, Longmont, Golden and Louisville.

Members range from the American Lung Association of Colorado to the City of Boulder, and from tiny one- and two-employee groups such as Inform Inc. and the Corporate Alliance For Better Air, to huge corporations like IBM and Storage Technology.

Between 10 and 20 members regularly attend meetings on the second Tuesday of each month. These take place on the third floor of the Boulder County Courthouse and are open to the public.

At the July meeting there was discussion about the need for new members, especially to correct under-representation in the areas of small business, community leaders and municipalities. It was proposed that each member try to recruit two others per year.

The consortium has been going since 1987 and is co-chaired by a Boulder County Commissioner (presently Jana Mendez) and a representative from the private sector.

Jonathan Lind of Roche Colorado Corp. has filled that position for about four years before handing over the reins in August to Graham Hill, president of electric vehicle retailer 21 Wheels.

Lind, whose job title at Roche recently changed from senior environmental specialist to senior project engineer, says the consortium fills an interesting niche by specifically focusing on air quality issues.

While there are plenty of regulatory controls at federal, state and city levels, one approach by the consortium was at the voluntary level “to see how we can improve air quality in Boulder County.”

An example of this was the mentorship program in which a member would work alongside a company, often a small business using chemicals or other hazardous materials, to show ways in which pollution could be reduced.

Lind says the BCCAC has the potential to reach a wide audience through its environmental education and outreach programs. “The consortium can identify people who have problems and put them in touch with the people who can help them.”

BOULDER — “Air … it was never meant to be seen.” Most people in these health-conscious days would heartily agree with that slogan from the Boulder County Clean Air Consortium, or BCCAC.

The consortium operates under the wing of the environmental health section of the Boulder County Health Department, which helps with such things as coordinating meetings and providing a venue, sending out information and recruiting members.

Anne Kaufmann, a pollution prevention specialist with the department, describes the BCCAC as “pretty unique” because it is one of the few such organizations…

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