For Immediate Release, January 5, 2021


Robert Ukeiley, (720) 496-8568,

Court Orders Trump’s EPA to Redo Approval of Colorado’s Flawed Plan to Reduce Smog, Acid Rain

DENVER— A federal appeals court today ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to redo its approval of Colorado’s flawed plan to protect people and the state’s treasured natural areas from smog and acid rain.

The order was issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver. It was requested by the EPA in response to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity challenging the agency’s earlier approval of the state’s deficient air-pollution plan.

The Center’s lawsuit pointed out that Colorado’s plan failed to properly consider pollution emitted in Colorado that ends up in downwind states like Utah and New Mexico. And the lawsuit flagged that Colorado lacks the legal authority to control pollution from industrial agriculture, which is a major source of smog and acid rain.

“When faced with having to explain to a court its rationale for approving Colorado’s flawed plan to reduce asthma-causing smog and acid rain, the EPA had no choice but to admit its errors,” said Robert Ukeiley, a senior attorney at the Center. “This decision is a victory for Colorado’s people and special places like Rocky Mountain National Park. It means that one day, in the not-too-distant future, we’ll have clearer, healthier air.”

A recent study found that ammonia, which comes mainly from industrial agriculture and causes acid rain, doubled between 1984 and 2017 in rain and snow failing into the Front Range’s alpine peaks. This is not unexpected since Colorado currently lacks the legal authority to set any limits on how much pollution industrial agriculture and other polluters can dump into its mountains.

The ruling is another step toward requiring Colorado to change its laws so that industrial agriculture is subject to the same air-pollution control laws as everyone else.

The Center was also represented in the lawsuit by Kevin Lynch, an associate professor of law at the Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and law students Cailee Mangan and Siera Schroeder.

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.