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Guardians Calls on Colorado Air Commission to Reject Delay in Denver Metro Smog Clean-up

September 17, 2020
Jeremy Nichols, WildEarth Guardians, (303) 437-7663, jnichols@wildearthguardians.org
In This Release
Climate + Energy  
#COCleanAir, #KeepItInTheGround
Denver–WildEarth Guardians today called on the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission to reject a request by its staff, the Air Pollution Control Division, to delay cleaning up dangerous ground-level ozone pollution in the Denver Metro area.

“Clean air delayed is clean air denied,” said Jeremy Nichols, WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy Program Director.  “The Air Division’s request to delay cleaning up harmful levels of air pollution is an affront to the health of every family and every community along Colorado’s Front Range.”

At a meeting this week, the Air Division intends to request the Commission set a hearing to adopt a plan that purportedly demonstrates the Denver Metro and North Front Range region will come into compliance with federal health limits on ground-level ozone.

The key ingredient of smog, ground-level ozone forms when sunlight reacts with pollution from smokestacks, tailpipes, and fracking. Ozone is a poisonous gas and poses serious respiratory health risks, particularly to children, seniors, and even active adults.

The Denver Metro/North Front Range region has failed to meet health limits on ozone for years and last year was even declared a “serious” dirty air area due to ongoing violations.

Based on actual monitoring data so far in 2020, the region remains out of compliance. While federal standards limit ozone concentrations to no more than 70 parts per billion over an eight hour period, concentrations in the Denver Metro area have soared to as high as 90 parts per billion.

In spite of the monitoring data, the Air Division claims the region will be in compliance with ozone standards by the end of 2020.  The Division will be ask the Air Commission to endorse this finding.

In a letter today and in public testimony, WildEarth Guardians called on the Air Commission to reject the Air Division’s request and instead direct the agency to develop a plan that acknowledges the true state of the Denver Metro area’s air quality and actually assures the region’s smog pollution is cleaned up.

The call comes on the heels of Governor Jared Polis’ support for moving forward to make Colorado’s air cleaner “instead of hiding behind bureaucracy and paperwork that delay action.”

“Sadly, the Air Division is hiding behind more more bureaucracy and more paperwork in an attempt to cover up the Denver Metro area’s serious smog problem and delay action,” said Nichols.  “The Colorado Air Commission has to put clean air and health first and stand up to the Division’s attempt to defy reality and cover up harmful air pollution.”

The Commission is set to hear the Division’s request during its meeting on September 18.

Smoggy day in Denver in August 2020. Photo by Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.