On May 1st, the Environmental Protection Agency officially designated Denver and the rest of the Front Range as out of compliance with the maximum ozone standard set by U.S. law in 2015. In response, Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said making this declaration was a mere first step toward cleaner air for Colorado at a time when the EPA is working to undo air quality protections on other fronts.
“Air quality has a direct impact on all Coloradans,” DeGette said. “Ozone concentration exceeds safe levels in several of our counties, including right here in Denver. We all know the impact of pollutants thanks to the Brown Cloud on days when there’s an inversion and it’s impossible to ignore. But even when we can’t see pollutants such as ozone, they are there and affecting our health. This is especially true for high-risk groups, including the more than 140,000 children, 75,000 seniors and 62,000 people with asthma in my district alone.
“In the meantime, under Administrator Scott Pruitt, the EPA has been rolling back regulations and initiatives to protect our air quality. The agency is working to gut the Clean Power Plan, created in 2015 to reduce carbon emissions from power plants and to increase use of renewable energy. And it has announced that it is withdrawing the longstanding ‘once in, always in’ policy, which ensures that major sources of pollution such as power plants are held to high standards on emissions of substances such as arsenic, lead and mercury. I call on the EPA not merely to follow the law and acknowledge where the air needs to be cleaner, but also to stop attacking the protections that are already in place.”
“I call on the EPA not merely to follow the law and acknowledge where the air needs to be cleaner, but also to stop attacking the protections that are already in place.”
Congresswoman Diana DeGette
The Denver region was one of 51 areas in the United States that failed to meet the 2015 ozone standard of 70 parts per billion, according to the EPA’s announcement this week, which will trigger requirements in these areas to reduce pollution from power plants, industrial sites, cars and other sources.