Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, July 10, 2023

Contact:

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

Lawsuit Filed Challenging EPA’s Approval of Colorado Smog-Reduction Plan

Agency Admits Plan Failed to Protect Coloradoans From Asthma-Causing Pollution

DENVER— The Center for Biological Diversity and 350 Colorado filed a lawsuit today challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of a plan that failed to adequately reduce smog in the Metro Denver and North Front Range by July 2021.

The EPA approved the plan even though it had previously determined that the plan 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 did not adequately rein in pollution from fracked oil and methane gas.

“The EPA’s 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 attorney 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.”

Colorado has failed to meet the national smog standard for 15 years. Yet the EPA keeps approving Colorado’s cleanup plans even when it knows they will not work.

The EPA smog standard is 75 parts per billion. But Front Range smog levels were 81 parts per billion in summer 2020, with the highest levels 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.

“We can’t continue to subsidize the fracking industry with our families’ health,” said Micah Parker, executive director of 350 Colorado and the mother of two teenage daughters. “The only real path to clean air in Denver and the Front Range is to phase out fracking and justly move to a renewable energy economy.”

The lawsuit challenging the EPA’s approval of the failed smog cleanup plan was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver.

Denver's smog-choked skyline/courtesy Dennis Schroeder
Denver's smog-choked skyline/Dennis Schroeder Image is available for media use.

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.

350 Colorado is a nonprofit organization with approximately 20,000 members statewide whose mission is to build a movement to solve the climate crisis and transition to a sustainable future.

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