Cleaner Gas Will Protect Children In Colorado From Harmful Smog

March 25, 2004
Contact: 
(25 March 2004 -- Denver) Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Denver and surrounding areas would be required to sell cleaner summertime gasoline to lower smog levels posing a health threat to children, individuals with asthma, the elderly, and those that work and exercise outdoors. The action would enforce, for the first time in the Front Range, a requirement in the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments that major metropolitan areas use cleaner gasoline to protect public health from summertime smog levels. EPA's action follows the summer of 2003 when Denver and the Front Range experienced the most unhealthy smog pollution levels in a generation - with high pollution levels reaching all the way to Rocky Mountain National Park. Smog or ground-level ozone forms when volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen chemically interact in the presence of sunlight and heat.

"EPA's momentous action is one of the most cost-effective and sensible steps that can be taken to help protect children with asthma, the elderly and the many Coloradoans that enjoy the great outdoors from the harmful smog pollution degrading their lungs, at a government estimated cost to consumers of only one half of one cent per gallon," said Environmental Defense senior attorney Vickie Patton.

Lower volatility gasoline is widely used to cut smog air pollution in some 18 states and 225 counties nationwide, protecting 42 million people. Other western cities using lower volatility gasoline include Salt Lake City, Utah and Phoenix, Arizona.

In the summer of 2003, the Colorado Front Range experienced some of the most unhealthy smog pollution levels in a generation. The Rocky Flats monitor, for example, recorded 15 days with pollution levels above the federal health-based standard for ozone smog and 12 days at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory monitor in Golden.

The harmful pollution levels were far-reaching with the Longs Peak Ranger Station at Rocky Mountain National Park recording 7 days with pollution levels above the national health-based standard for ozone smog. Based on the 2001-2003 monitoring data, the Denver area violated the national health-based ozone smog standard. The federal standard limits ozone levels to 0.08 parts per million based on the fourth highest maximum concentration averaged over a three-year period.