Clean Air Advocate, CoPIRG
Clean Air Advocate, CoPIRG
DENVER – With just 42 days until the start of our next ozone season, CoPIRG is calling on state legislators to pass a new bill, HB23-1294, that tackles ozone pollutants coming from the oil and gas sector. The bill is scheduled for its first committee hearing Thursday, April 20.
Sponsored by Representatives Bacon and Willford and Senators Winter and Gonzales, the Protecting Communities From Air Pollution Act will improve air quality complaint processes for people reporting violations in their communities and define “cumulative impacts” of emissions sources to better inform the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commision’s work. It will also make progress towards the governor’s recent NOx reduction announcement by putting specific measures into law such as stronger emissions standards for new off-road engines, requiring electric drill rigs at oil and gas sites, and retrofitting oil and gas equipment called pneumatic devices with zero emissions models.
The bill will also establish an interim legislative committee to convene this summer to examine additional ozone reduction measures and identify potential reforms to the state’s permitting process for new sources of air pollution, which in recent years have averaged approximately 2,000 each year.
CoPIRG Clean Air Advocate Kirsten Schatz released the following statement:
“We have a serious ozone problem in our state and need to use every solution available for cutting this harmful pollution. The Protecting Communities from Air Pollution Act, HB 1294, will take concrete steps to cut ozone-forming emissions from oil and gas as well as set us up for future action. It is a key part of the Ozone Agenda we are calling on the legislature to pass this spring. Every pound of ozone-forming pollution that we can prevent from entering our air matters for our health and quality of life.
This is especially important because the American Lung Association’s latest State of the Air report revealed Denver is now the 6th worst city in the nation for high ozone days, up from 7th; Fort Collins is 15th worst; and Colorado Springs has now joined the list of the 25 worst cities for ozone nationwide. All of this highlights the urgent need for statewide action on ozone.
We only have 42 days left until the start of our next ozone season, when Coloradans will once again be exposed to harmful levels of air pollution that harm our health and quality of life. The time to act is now.”
CoPIRG’s ozone agenda lifts up policy actions the legislature should take this year to cut harmful air pollution across several sectors such as transportation, lawn and garden, oil and gas, buildings and appliances, industrial facilities and more.
Breathing ground-level ozone can cause harmful health effects including lung damage, worsening of existing respiratory conditions such as asthma and even cardiovascular disease. Even short-term exposure to elevated ozone levels can lead to an increased risk of death.
In recent years, the north Front Range region – roughly from Castle Rock up to Fort Collins and Greeley – has suffered from some of the highest ozone pollution in the country. These high ozone levels mean the region is also 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.