Colorado lawmakers pass bill to tackle ozone pollution from oil & gas

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For Immediate Release
Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Colorado lawmakers pass bill to tackle ozone pollution from oil & gas
‘Ozone Mitigation Measures’ bill contains key provisions to clean up air, hold polluters accountable

DENVER – With Colorado ozone season set to start in just 25 days, the Colorado General Assembly passed a measure late last night to address the harmful ozone air pollution linked to oil and gas development and other industrial sources that have been plaguing the state for over a decade. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

SB24-229, Ozone Mitigation Measures, will take on Colorado’s severe ozone air pollution problem by cutting emissions from the oil and gas sector, strengthening air quality enforcement by giving state agencies more tools for holding polluters accountable, and increasing transparency by requiring the state to publicly share information on enforcement actions. Notably, the bill increases funding for the state’s program to plug “orphan” oil and gas wells and expands the program to include so-called “marginal” wells, which are wells that are low-producing but often highly polluting. The bill will also codify Gov. Polis’s targets to reduce ozone-forming nitrogen oxides (NOx) from oil and gas production and preproduction activities (such as drilling) within the Denver Metro/North Front Range ozone nonattainment area by 50% below 2017 levels by 2030.

In response to the bill’s passage, CoPIRG Clean Air Advocate Kirsten Schatz shared the following statement:

“Coloradans have suffered for too long from air pollution that harms our health and our quality of life. This bill includes meaningful measures to cut air pollution from the oil and gas sector and hold polluters accountable when they break the rules. With another summer of ozone alerts advising Coloradans to stay indoors just around the corner, we applaud bill sponsors and other legislative leaders for getting this bill across the finish line and are eager for Gov. Polis to sign it into law.”

June 1 marks the beginning of our state’s traditional ozone season. Exposure to ground-level ozone can cause harmful health effects including lung damage, worsening of existing respiratory conditions such as asthma, and even cardiovascular disease. In recent years, the Denver Metro/North Front Range region has suffered from some of the highest ozone pollution in the country. These high ozone levels mean the region is failing to meet the national health-based air quality standards for ozone, and in 2022, the EPA reclassified the region from “serious” to “severe” nonattainment of these standards.