For Immediate Release, December 22, 2020

Contact:

Robert Ukeiley, (720) 496-8568, rukeiley@biologicaldiversity.org

Colorado Officials Admit State’s Smog-reduction Plan Already Failed to Protect Colorado From Deadly Pollution, Then Approve It Anyway

DENVER— The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission has approved a plan that was supposed to reduce smog in the North Front Range by this past summer, even though state officials knew the plan had already failed to deliver the required pollution reductions.

Levels of ground-level ozone pollution, commonly referred to as “smog,” continued to violate air-quality standards in the area because Colorado’s plan failed to rein in pollution from fracked oil and methane gas.

“The approval of this pollution-reduction plan, which we already know has failed, could have been straight out of George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984,” said Robert Ukeiley, an environmental health lawyer at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This government embrace of a plan that has already failed means the fracked gas and oil industry gets to keep spewing out pollution that causes asthma attacks and even death. And kills trees and flowers in majestic places like Rocky Mountain National Park.”

Garry Kaufman, the head of the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division, began last week’s hearing on the plan by stating that the Metro-Denver / North Front Range area had “unequivocally” failed to meet the public health smog standard set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Colorado had failed to meet this same smog standard twice before; the EPA gave it a third chance to bring pollution levels down below the standard by this past summer.

The EPA smog standard is 75 parts per billion. But actual Front Range smog levels were 81 parts per billion in summer 2020 -- in fact, the highest levels were experienced at the National Renewable Energy Lab pollution monitor in Jefferson County. The pollution monitor at Chatfield State Park in Douglas County experienced similar levels.

After Kaufman admitted the failure of the plan, he, along with his staff and attorneys from the fracked gas and oil industry, spent two days of hearings providing the Colorado officials with excuses for this failure.

By contrast public health and conservation groups, along with members of the community — many of whom testified in Spanish — presented scientific evidence and legal authority for why Colorado should not approve the already-failed smog plan.

Rejecting the plan would have triggered greater pollution controls for ozone.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.