State Officials Violate Agreement with Lawmakers on Clean Air Rules

Environment Colorado

DENVER—Yesterday, state officials violated an agreement with state lawmakers to reexamine a set of controversial air quality rules with a full public hearing process before submitting them to EPA for approval. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment took steps to formalize the rules yesterday on the same day that two Front Range air quality monitoring stations recorded levels of ozone in violation of federal health standards and an air quality advisory was issued for Rocky Mountain National Park.

“The Department of Public Health and Environment made a public commitment to the people of Colorado and state lawmakers to re-evaluate this industry-backed plan with full public input before carrying it forward,” said Will Coyne of Environment Colorado. “They have broken their promise.”

At odds are changes to rules that implement the Clean Air Act enacted last year by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The new rules would make it unlikely that old industrial facilities that emit air pollution would ever be required to install modern pollution controls. 

Citing concerns over negative impacts to public health, state lawmakers challenged the rules during this year’s legislative session over objections from industry and the Owen’s administration. Lawmakers won an agreement from CDPHE to re-evaluate the rules with full public input.

“It is disappointing that Doug Benevento, the director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, is focused on relaxing pollution control rules for industry while families across the Front Range are being warned that the air is unhealthy to breathe, ” said Vickie Patton, Air-Quality Attorney with Environmental Defense.

The move by CDPHE to formalize the controversial rules came the same day as the first widespread violations of health based standards for air quality. The highest ozone concentration appears to have been recorded at the Chatfield Reservoir monitor where the pollution levels reached 117 parts per billion (ppb) well above the 85 ppb federal health standard. Ozone pollution concentrations also exceeded the health standard yesterday at the NREL monitor.