EPA reclassifies Denver Metro/North Front Range to serious non-attainment for 2008 ozone standard.

December 31, 2019

Denver area 8-hour ozone map. Click to enlarge image.

On December 16, 2019 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is finalizing a determination to reclassify the Denver Metro/North Front Range ozone nonattainment area from Moderate to Serious nonattainment under the Clean Air Act.  Likely to be impacted is the state’s oil and gas industry which studies have shown accounts for nearly half the region’s local ozone production.

“EPA is taking this action based on monitoring data showing that ozone remains a challenge in Denver and northern Front Range communities,” said EPA Regional Administrator Gregory Sopkin.

The Denver area has been classified as a Moderate nonattainment area for the 2008 ozone 8-hour National Ambient Air Quality Standard since 2016. Based on an evaluation of air quality data collected from 2015 to 2017, EPA has determined that the Denver Metro/Northern Front Range nonattainment area did not meet the standard within the timeframe established for 2008 Moderate ozone nonattainment areas.

Under the Clean Air Act, areas that do not attain national ozone standards in a timely manner are reclassified to a higher nonattainment status, in this case from Moderate to Serious.

Under the Clean Air Act, the State of Colorado is responsible for developing a State Implementation Plan (SIP) for ozone, a set of enforceable rules and programs to achieve compliance with national air quality standards. EPA’s action to reclassify the Denver area requires the State to revise its SIP in order to attain the ozone standard, and adopt new categories of controls, or reasonably available control technologies, on emissions sources.

EPA’s action requires the state’s permitting program to apply a lower threshold for permitting large sources. EPA’s action includes due dates for Colorado to submit SIP revisions and sets a new deadline of July 20, 2021, for the area to attain the 2008 ozone standard.

EPA accepted public comment on a proposal to reclassify the Denver Metro/Northern Front Range nonattainment area to serious nonattainment beginning on August 15 and held a public hearing at the agency’s regional office in Denver on September 6.

What this means to you
EPA has reclassified the Denver metro norther front range from moderate to serious for nonattainment of the 2008 ozone standard. Likely to be impacted is the state’s oil and gas industry which studies have shown accounts for nearly half the region’s local ozone production.

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