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CheckEngine_225x225 60 percent.jpgThere are some significant changes headed our way in 2015 for the auto emissions inspection program in the Denver-metro area and North Front Range!

Collectively, the January 2015 changes should improve customer convenience for the greatest number of Coloradans in the program area while also protecting air quality.

Among the changes is the extension of the initial model year exemption for newer vehicles from four to seven years. This change reflects improvements in vehicle technology that allow gasoline-powered engines to start out cleaner and stay cleaner longer.

Beginning in the eighth model year, and extending through the eleventh model year, the vehicle inspection process will include an inspection of the On-Board Diagnostics (OBD and OBDII) systems. Instead of a driving test on the dynamometer (the “treadmill” test), vehicles will be “plugged in” to read the codes in their on-board computers.

This means if your “Check Engine” light is on, your vehicle will not pass the inspection. Don’t ignore it, get it checked!

Older gasoline hybrid vehicles (beginning in the eighth model year) will require inspection for the first time, also using the OBD "plug-in" test.

Other improvements to make the inspection process easier include adding more all-wheel drive lanes, offering more inspection options for vehicles that previously could not be inspected on the dynamometer, like vehicles with larger or smaller tires, and finally, we're taking credit cards!

For a good overview of what's on the horizon, visit the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s webpage at for a good overview of what’s on the horizon.

June is Colorado Bike Month, Get Pedaling!

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Colorado Bike Month

June is Bike Month. BIKE TO WORK DAY is June 25.

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Colorado is a premiere bicycling state. To celebrate bicycling for transportation, fun and health, Colorado has designated each June as Bike Month. At the same time, Colorado joins a nationwide effort to encourage cycling novices and enthusiasts to experience the fun and freedom of safely riding a bike to work, school, errands and recreation

While there will be many events around the state throughout the month, the highlight of the month is Bike to Work Day when employees leave their cars at home and enjoy bicycling to work. The number of Bike to Work Day participants has risen steadily since 1995, and due to the popularity of bicycling in Colorado that trend is expected to continue this year.

To learn more about the benefits of bicycling to work, school and errands, please click here.

Check Engine Light – Saving Your Vehicle And The Environment One Light At a Time

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Often people believe an illuminated check engine light is just an electrical malfunction. In reality, a check engine light is one of the most effective and critical signs that your vehicle is functioning improperly. When illuminated, a check engine light alerts you to a variety of existing potential problems.

The check engine light is part of your vehicle's onboard diagnostics (OBD) system. The OBD system constantly monitors your vehicle's major operating systems most importantly, the engine and transmission. The primary purpose of monitoring these systems is to insure the vehicle is operating at top efficiency with the lowest possible emissions (

There are many reasons behind an illumined check engine light. The most common malfunctions that can cause the check engine light to illuminate include a loose gas cap, a faulty oxygen or mass airflow sensor, and worn down spark plugs and wires.

Because an illuminated check engine light can be potentially hazardous to your vehicle and the environment, it is important to visit an OBD certified technician within a couple days of the light going on. If the light is flashing, the condition is more urgent and should be checked immediately. 

A technician will plug a computer into your vehicle, genreally located underneath the dashboard on the driver's side, 

so the device can read the codes from your car's computer system. From the test, the check engine light codes tell your technician whether there is something wrong and points him or her in the right direction (

A check engine light isn’t necessarily a sign of costly repairs, but it is an important part of your OBD system to insure optimal vehicle functionality, personal safety and environmental safety.

Kids 4 Clean Air Colorado Poster Contest Winners a Talented Bunch

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We think everyone can agree that the winners of this year's Kids 4 Clean Air Colorado poster contest have amazing talent.

Students in grades 1 through 8 were challenged to learn a little about their age group's clean air theme - there were four - and then to depict that theme in an original artwork poster.  100 entrants rose to the challenge in spectacular form.  The artwork was so well done in fact, that there were two first place winners in the 3rd and 4th grade category!  The winners each received a new bicycle, helmet and water bottle, and a Radio Disney rally at their schools.* And, each winner's school was awarded a $1,000 grant for an environmental initiative of the school's choosing.  The submissions were evaluated on the use of the Air Quality (theme) message, the visual effectiveness, originality and universal appeal.

And the winners are...

1st & 2nd Grade category theme -  Put a Cap on Ozone!  Broken or missing gas caps can allow up to 30 gallons of gasoline to evaporate per year.

Winner: Paige, 2nd grade



3rd & 4th Grade category theme - Stop at the Click!  If you help out by filling the family car with gas, you might be tempted to put just a little extra in after the gas pump clicks off, or you might see your mom or dad do this.  Don't.  It's bad for the car and bad for the air.

Winner: Chayse, 4th grade



Winner: Vishva, 3rd grade



5th & 6th Grade category theme - Engines Off!  When your parents are waiting to pick you up from school or soccer practice, leaving their car running creates nasty pollution, as well as wastes gas.

Winner: Julie, 5th grade



7th & 8th Grade category theme - Maintenance Matters!  Keeping up with your car maintenance is not only important to keeping your car running, but also to protecting our air.

Winner: Rae, 7th grade


Colorado Laws & Ordinances Limit Vehicle Idling to Combat Air Pollution

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Many local and state governments have adopted laws and ordinances that limit vehicle idling to combat increasing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Each law and ordinance varies in who it targets, the basic overall structure, and the penalties associated with not complying, however, the overall objective of each law and ordinance remains the same – to protect air quality by reducing emissions created by unnecessary vehicle idling.

Colorado Laws and Ordinances

  • Aspen – Limits vehicle idling to five minutes in any one-hour period and the vehicle must be attended to at all times
  • Basalt – Limits vehicle idling to no more than two consecutive minutes
  • Denver – Limits vehicle idling to five minutes in any one-hour period and the vehicle must be attended to at all times.
  • Johnstown – Vehicles weighing more than ten thousand (10,000) pounds are forbidden from idling for more than 15 minutes in any one-hour period
  • Greenwood Village – Vehicles weighing more than twelve thousand (12,000) pounds are restricted from idling for a consecutive period longer than five minutes
  • Mountain Village – Limits vehicle idling to five minutes within any one-hour period and the vehicle must also be attended to by a licensed operator
  • Telluride – Limits vehicle idling to 30 seconds and vehicle must be attended by a driver. Idling time permitted is extended to three minutes for starting an engine in cold weather
  • Winter Park – Limits vehicle idling to no more than 15 consecutive minutes

In addition to the laws and ordinances listed above, Colorado Revised Statute 42-4-1206, more commonly known as the "puffer" law, allows law enforcement officers across the state to immediately ticket individuals who have left a vehicle running unattended for any period of time.

Additional Laws and Ordinances from across the United States

  • District of Columbia – Limits vehicle idling to three minutes while the vehicle is parked, stopped, or standing, including for the purpose of operating air conditioning equipment in the vehicle
  • Salt Lake City, UT – Limits vehicle idling to two minutes within city limits. First offenses are provided a warning, however, subsequent offenses can result in a fine up to $410
  • Park City, UT – Limits vehicle idling to three minutes and carries a $100 fine for violators
  • Minneapolis, MN – Limits vehicle idling to no more than three minutes in any one-hour period. Vehicle operators may idle for up to 15 minutes in temperatures less than zero degrees or higher than 90 degrees
  • Vermont – School buses shall not idle the engine on school grounds for more than five minutes within a one-hour period and must turn off the main engine upon arrival

Common Exemptions Found in Idling Laws and Ordinances

  • The ambient outside air temperature has been less than twenty (20) degrees Fahrenheit for each hour of the previous twenty-four (24) hour period; or
  • The latest hourly ambient outside air temperature is less than ten (10) degrees Fahrenheit.
  • The idling restriction in subsection (a) shall not apply to emergency vehicles; to vehicles engaged in traffic control operations; to vehicles which are being serviced; to vehicles that must idle to operate auxiliary equipment, including but not limited to pumps, compressors or refrigeration units; or to vehicles en route to a destination that are stopped by traffic congestion.
  • The time during which transportation vehicles are actively loading or discharging passengers shall not be included in the computation of the five (5) minutes determined herein to be a prolonged or unreasonable period of time. A transportation vehicle shall be defined for purposes of this section to mean motor vehicles designed to transport a minimum of sixteen (16) persons

What Can I Do?

  • Encourage your elected officials to adopt an idling ordinance. For example, the City and County of Denver's Idling Vehicle Ordinance limits idling to five minutes in any one-hour period. Denver Police have the authority to ticket any vehicle left idling for a period longer than five minutes and can ticket immediately any vehicle left idling unattended ("puffer" law).
  • The Colorado State idling law, passed in 2011, allows local governments to limit idling by some of these vehicles (commercial diesel vehicles of 14,000 lbs or more) to no more than 5 minutes within 1 hour. Communities can impose a fine of up to $150 for first time offenses and up to $500 for second offenses and beyond.
  • Read the US EPA's Model Idling Ordinance.
  • Use this sample idling law as a template to draft your own legislation for your community


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