(Denver, CO – September 6, 2019) EDF experts joined concerned Coloradans at an EPA hearing today to call for stronger protections against dangerous ground-level ozone pollution, also known as smog.
EPA is proposing to reclassify the Denver metro area as a “serious” non-attainment area under the 2008 National Ambient Air Quality Standards – an action required under the Clean Air Act to ensure the health of Coloradans is protected from smog.
“As a Colorado native who grew up in Fort Collins, and as an asthma sufferer, this serious designation is a welcome step to help restore healthy air quality in Colorado,” said EDF attorney Jessica Christy in her testimony. “I recall days when Denver’s notorious brown cloud would drift towards Fort Collins. As a child, I didn’t understand why, but those days were filled with trouble breathing, dry coughs, and exhaustion. Now I know that the brown cloud was, in part, ground-level ozone pollution, also known as smog, a harmful pollutant.”
Smog exacerbates lung conditions like asthma and is linked to a wide-array of serious heart and lung diseases. It’s particularly harmful for children, seniors, people with lung impairments like asthma, and anyone active outdoors. Climate change also worsens ground-level ozone pollution – one of the many ways it puts the health and safety of Coloradans at risk.
Colorado has made important strides in improving its overall air quality over the past decades, but smog remains a serious threat to Coloradans’ health and quality of life. EPA has previously reclassified the Denver Metro/North Front Range area as a “Moderate” nonattainment area under the 2008 national ozone standard. The agency is now proposing to again determine that the area did not meet 2008 standard, and should be reclassified as a “Serious” nonattainment area.
Once EPA finalizes the proposed changes to the Denver area’s nonattainment status, the state of Colorado will then work to develop a plan to improve air quality and reduce smog. The Denver area would have a deadline of July 20, 2021 to meet the 2008 ozone standard.
“Major sources of industrial pollution, including emissions from oil and gas development, energy generation, and transportation, are contributing to this problem,” said Christy. “EPA’s proposed reclassification is an important step in helping to support Colorado’s efforts to ensure these and other pollution sources are taking steps to reduce pollution and restore healthy air.”
Those same pollution sources are also major contributors to climate change. For example, the oil and gas industry is a major source of volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides and methane – a climate accelerant. It is crucial that state policymakers adopt comprehensive solutions to address both smog and the climate pollution that makes smog worse.
You can read Christy’s full testimony here.
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