State Senate Votes To Protect Colorado’s Air Quality

Environment Colorado

DENVER—Hours ago, the Colorado senate voted to give Colorado more authority to protect air quality and public health. At a press conference yesterday, bill sponsor Senator Dan Grossman, explained why this legislation is so important.

“At this time, Colorado is prohibited by state law from exceeding federal minimum air quality protections,” said Senator Grossman. “HB-1309 will give Colorado the right to continue to protect our children’s lungs, the elderly and the millions of Coloradans who work and play in the great outdoors, even when officials in Washington DC weaken existing air quality laws.”

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 proposals include rule changes that would allow dirty industries and power plants to emit more air pollution, including mercury and smog forming pollutants into Colorado’s air and the residents of Colorado’s lungs and set soot standards at levels insufficient to protect public health.

“Colorado has the second highest incidence of asthma of any state in the nation and more than 175,000 people in this state are living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” said Curt Huber, Chief Executive Officer of the American Lung Association of Colorado. “The last thing we need is more pollutants in our air.”

Today’s vote takes HB-1309 one step closer to becoming law. However, the Senate must still give its final seal of approval to HB-1309. Then, the house must approve minor language changes before sending it to Governor Owen’s desk.

“Today’s vote is a major step forward for Clean Air in Colorado. Sen. Grossman, and every senator who stood for clean air today deserves our thanks,” said Isaac Silverman of Environment Colorado. “Today the Senate made a clear statement, that no matter what happens in Washington D.C, Colorado should be allowed to maintain current protections.”

Colorado already struggles with mercury, smog, and haze pollution. Colorado’s Mesa Verde National Park recorded the third highest atmospheric mercury concentration in the nation in 2003 and so much mercury washes out of our air the fish from 6 lakes in Colorado are unsafe to eat. Colorado exceeded federal health standards for ozone (smog) 60 times in 2003 and areas across the state still struggle to meet minimum standards. Haze obscures views throughout Colorado. Particulate pollution, commonly known as soot, damages health and our tourist economy.

HB-1309 would allow the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission to preserve current clean air protections when the federal rule changes would weaken standards or allow increased emissions. A broad coalition of public health and professionals and advocates, local governments, faith groups, agricultural organizations, labor unions, sportsmen, and environmental organizations have rallied behind the bill.

List of Endorsers:

Agricultural Groups:
Colorado Corn Growers 
Rocky Mountain Farmers Union

Colorado Trout Unlimited

Building and Construction Trades Council

Religious Groups:
Colorado Council of Churches
Diocese of Pueblo, Office of Social Justice
Eco-Justice Ministries

Public Health Advocates:
Public Health Directors of Colorado (PHDoC)
American Lung of Colorado
Breathe Better Foundation
Colorado Asthma Coalition

Local Governments:
San Juan Basin Health Department
Boulder County
City of Aspen
City of Boulder
City and County of Denver
City of Ft. Collins
City of Telluride
Costilla County

Public Interest and Environmental Organizations:
Coloradoans for Clean Air
Colorado Environmental Coalition
Colorado Progressive Coalition
Environment Colorado
National Parks Conservation Association-
Northern Rockies Region
Sierra Club, Rocky Mountain Chapter
Western Colorado Congress