Governor Owens Gives Earth Day Present To Colorado Polluters

Environment Colorado

DENVER—With a stroke of his pen, Governor Owens vetoed the most important clean air legislation passed by Colorado’s legislature in nearly 15 years.

HB-1309, supported by a broad coalition of health officials and advocates, local governments, faith leaders, sportsmen, and conservationists, would have given Colorado the right to reject federal rollbacks that will loosen air quality laws for Colorado’s industrial polluters. Over the last week more than 1200 citizens from across Colorado contacted Owens’ office asking him to give Colorado the right to keep our skies clear.

To many, HB-1309 was simply about protecting public health. “It’s disappointing that the Governor won’t allow Colorado the flexibility to protect the health of its citizens, said Curt Huber, CEO of American Lung of Colorado. “This measure would not even have mandated any specific action—it would have just given Colorado the ability to maintain our clean air standards.”

Colorado’s push for more local control over minimum air quality standards comes in the aftermath of federal rollbacks that would weaken Colorado’s air quality laws. Recent rollbacks include proposals that would allow dirty industries and power plants to emit more air pollution, including soot and smog forming pollutants into Colorado’s air and resident’s lungs.

“Today Gov. Owens chose to not protect Colorado’s skies,” said Isaac Silverman of Environment Colorado. “Guaranteeing Colorado polluters the weakest air pollution rules permitted by federal law the Monday after Earth Day is like celebrating Veterans Day by cutting military pensions.”

And many local governments were looking forward to flexibility in the face of federal rule changes. “HB 1309 was really about common sense. Ultimately, it would have leveled the playing field, holding the government accountable to the citizens of Colorado” said Gregg Thomas, Environmental Assessment and Policy supervisor for the City and County of Denver.

HB-1309 enjoyed strong support from a broad coalition. Last Monday approximately 40 Coloradoans gathered at the capitol alongside public health advocates, faith leaders, local governments and conservationists, to call on Governor Owens to sign HB-1309. Over 1,200 people from all over Colorado contacted Gov. Owens asking him to sign the bill.