Fracking is Fueling Dangerous Smog Pollution Along Colorado’s Front Range

Despite Denver’s worsening summertime smog problem, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency continues to let the State of Colorado avoid cleaning up this pollution mess and turn its back on public health.

So, this week, we put the EPA on notice:  either force Colorado to clean up its act or get sued.

This isn’t a trivial matter. Peoples’ health is literally on the line.

Ground-level ozone pollution levels in the Denver Metro and North Front Range region of Colorado routinely exceed federal health limits. Ozone is a poisonous gas and is the key ingredient of smog and in Colorado. It forms when pollution from smokestacks, tailpipes, and oil and gas operations react with sunlight.

Ozone can trigger asthma attacks, worsen respiratory ailments, send kids and seniors to the hospital, and even cause premature death.

In the Denver area, oil and gas development is actually the largest source of smog forming pollution.

Put another way, that summertime smog in Denver? It’s all fracking.

And record levels of fracking in the Denver Metro-North Front Range region have pushed ozone levels to dangerous highs, destroying public health.

Colorado health regulators were supposed to clean up the region’s smog pollution by July 20, 2018. They failed. In fact, they’ve tried to seek more delay in cleaning up the region’s ozone.

In response, the EPA was supposed to impose more stringent pollution cuts. Unfortunately, they also failed.

So, at both the state and federal level, the health of Colorado’s Front Range is being sacrificed for the oil and gas industry. Fortunately, we can change this.

With our latest notice letter, we’re setting the stage for a lawsuit against the EPA. Under the Clean Air Act, citizen groups, like WildEarth Guardians, can sue to enforce the law. However, we first have to provide notice of our intent to sue, then wait 60 days.

Our hope is that we can file suit in federal court by March and hopefully get clean air back on track before the summer of 2019.

Because the oil and gas industry isn’t just destroying our climate, they’re ruing our clean air. If we can’t clean up Denver’s smog, we have no chance of safeguarding our climate.

Jeremy Nichols

About the Author

Jeremy Nichols | Climate and Energy Program Director, WildEarth Guardians

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