August 29, 2019
Denver and nearby counties of northern Colorado’s urban corridor failed to meet federal ozone pollution standards, and the state will have to come up with a new plan to clean up the air, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on August 8th according to an August 9, 2019 Associated Press report.
The move was expected after Democratic Gov. Jared Polis said in March the state would no longer ask for an exemption from the standards by claiming some of the pollution was drifting from China and elsewhere, rather than being created in Colorado.
The EPA said it plans to downgrade Denver and eight other counties in northern Colorado from “moderate” to “serious.” In addition to Denver, the area includes Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Douglas, Jefferson, Larimer and Weld counties.
Denver and the northern Front Range have struggled to meet EPA ozone standards since at least 2004. States can lose some federal highway funding if they don’t come up with a plan to correct ozone violations. The EPA says states are not penalized for violating the standards, but only for not developing an agency-approved plan to improve.
Under the Clean Air Act, the State of Colorado is responsible for developing a State Implementation Plan (SIP), which is a set of enforceable rules and programs to achieve compliance with national air quality standards. EPA’s action proposes due dates for Colorado to submit SIP revisions to attain the ozone standard, including the implementation of reasonably available control technologies (RACT).
Some Serious area requirements would be effective as soon as this action is finalized, such as a lower threshold for permitting large sources. The proposal would set a new deadline of July 20, 2021, for the Denver area to attain the 2008 ozone standard.
EPA’s announcement opens a 30-day period for the public to comment on the agency’s plan to downgrade the area’s status. A public hearing is scheduled for September 6th.
Click here for details on EPA’s proposed action, the September 6 public hearing, and information on how to comment.
What this means to you
EPA proposes to downgrade Denver and eight other counties in northern Colorado from “moderate” to “serious” non-attainment of the 2008 ozone national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) for ground level ozone.
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