As traditional ozone season kicks off, advocates highlight progress made, actions still needed

Media Contacts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, May 31, 2023

DENVER – As the Front Range marks the June 1 start of the traditional ozone season, CoPIRG highlighted that the Colorado legislature acted on five of the nine ozone agenda action areas this past session to tackle harmful ozone pollution.

Specifically, legislators passed bills that created and expanded tax credits to shift away from gas-powered lawn and garden equipment and accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) and electric bikes (e-bikes), temporarily suspended fare collection on public transit to increase transit ridership and reduce the need to drive, and increased appliance efficiency standards in order to cut ozone pollution from buildings.

“No single solution will bring ozone pollution in our region down below unsafe levels, so it is significant that the General Assembly passed measures this year to address ozone across multiple sectors,” said CoPIRG Clean Air Advocate Kirsten Schatz. “From the ways we get around our communities to the machines we use to maintain our yards to the appliances in our homes, actions taken this legislative session will cut the ozone-forming pollution from each of these sectors over time. We applaud lawmakers for their work to create and pass these important measures.”

“High ozone days mean more patients visiting clinics like mine with asthma attacks, heart attacks or strokes. In recent years, we’ve seen the number of Colorado’s high ozone days increase to record-breaking numbers, which means more patients visiting clinics and emergency rooms,” said Jennifer Camello, MD, advocate for Healthy Air and Water Colorado. “While we celebrate the progress we achieved at the state legislature this year, it is not enough to bring ozone levels down to a safe and healthy level. We urgently need to employ every solution we can to improve our air quality and protect public health.”

In addition to the legislative action, Gov. Jared Polis set a goal in March for reducing ozone-forming nitrogen oxide (NOx) from the oil and gas sector by 30% by 2025, a significant reduction in a sector that represents the region’s largest local source of ozone pollution. 

“Gov. Polis’s goal is significant and we need to dive in now to make sure we can reduce this major source of ozone pollution even further,”  said Schatz. 

The legislature did not act on a few key pieces of CoPIRG’s ozone agenda and the organization called on state leaders to tackle “indirect sources” of air pollution such as warehouses, improve the state’s cumbersome ozone reduction rulemaking process and address new sources of emissions that add to the region’s existing air pollution problem. 

The latter two were included in initial drafts of the Protecting Communities from Air Pollution Act, HB23-1294, which passed the legislature in significantly amended form. The final version of the bill will set up an interim legislative committee to consider further action to address ozone pollution from oil & gas and related sectors, as well as consider reforms to the state’s process of permitting new sources of air pollution. The bill will also provide more avenues for communities impacted by air pollution to make their voices heard.

“Oil and gas production is one of the single largest contributors to harmful ozone pollution in our region, with ‘new sources’ being proposed all the time. When the bathtub is overflowing, don’t turn on another tap,” said Schatz. 

For Coloradans looking for ways to reduce their personal impact on air quality this summer, CoPIRG recommends:


Breathing ozone can cause harmful health effects including lung damage, worsening of existing respiratory conditions such as asthma and cardiovascular disease

In recent years, Colorado 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.

Photo by Staff | Used by permission


CoPIRG is the Colorado Public Interest Research Group. CoPIRG is an advocate for the public interest. We speak out for a healthier, safer world in which we’re freer to pursue our own individual well-being and the common good. More at 

Healthy Air & Water Colorado is the only statewide advocate for public policy that focuses exclusively on the growing public health threats posed by climate change. By engaging frontline health care workers who see and treat the real health issues caused by our warming environment, we are combining fact-based research with clinical expertise to raise awareness and encourage action to advance policies that will help to avert our growing public health emergency. More at