Since the first Earth Day 41 years ago, the automobile industry has harnessed technology to meet global environmental challenges. Manufacturers have cleared a steadily rising bar, building vehicles that produce just a fraction of the emissions of the new cars that appeared on dealership lots in 1970.
The role of vehicle emissions in pollution can't be ignored. Yet automobile manufacturers and dealers have invested significant time and money into making and marketing clean energy breakthroughs, including hybrid, electric, flex fuel and clean diesel technologies. The growing popularity of these technologies has positioned our industry as a big part of the solution.
But we also need to retire the old, high-emitting vehicles that create a disproportionate amount of harmful vehicle particulate emissions.
In Colorado, a state that values its spectacular environment but also faces air quality challenges, automobile dealers are pursuing strategies for reducing pollution from high-emitting vehicles. The Colorado Automobile Dealers Association launched the Clear the Air Foundation, a nonprofit aimed at clearing Colorado's air of the impacts of high-emitting vehicles.
The Clear the Air Foundation (cleartheairfoundation.org) is a leading example of how our industry can begin to tackle the other half of the problem and continue to effectively position itself as part of the solution.
The foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, has begun accepting donations of pre-1990 vehicles. The vehicles are completely dismantled and recycled through a partnership with the Colorado Automotive Recyclers -- a process that ensures that the donated vehicles never pollute again.
The foundation plans to take 1,000 high emitters off Colorado's roads this year from dealer trade-ins and vehicle donations directly from consumers. The auto recyclers buy the cars from the foundation, which will use the revenue to support efforts that help Coloradans with respiratory conditions and provide scholarships to students in automotive and technology fields.
It's another example of how the automotive industry can lead the way in clearing the air while highlighting the benefits of new vehicle technology. We recently promoted the Clear the Air Foundation to thousands of visitors at the annual Denver Auto Show with a display that included a crushed car and items manufactured from recycled auto materials.
A rusty VW bus painted with psychedelic designs may hold a special place in our memories, but it's not good for our environment. This Earth Day, let's redouble our commitment to promoting the new vehicle technology that keeps our air cleaner.