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EPA Ozone Agenda Worries Top Colorado Democrats

09/02/2015

Sen. Bennet ‘Deeply Concerned’ and Gov. Hickenlooper ‘Very Concerned’ About Impacts 

Washington, D.C., Sept. 2 – Less than a week after U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) warned that a plan to dramatically tighten the federal ozone standard “doesn’t make any sense” and is “not going to work,” Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) is also going public with his reservations. In short, Hickenlooper is questioning the Obama administration for proposing an ozone standard at levels “where you know you’re not going to be able to achieve it.”

In a TV interview with CBS Denver, Gov. Hickenlooper said he’s unconvinced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should tighten standard from 75 parts per billion (ppb) into the range of 65 to 70 ppb. Here are the governor’s full comments from CBS Denver’s Aug. 31 story:

“I’m still very concerned. … I’ve heard (from) both sides that there isn’t sufficiently clear evidence that this is a significant health hazard. Now I haven’t looked at that yet and our people are still looking at it…

“To set up a standard where you know you’re not going to be able to achieve it, and obviously we’re at a unique disadvantage because we’re a mile high. So when you’re at 5,000 feet your ozone challenges are significantly more difficult.”

Karen Kerrigan, President of the Center for Regulatory Solutions (CRS), a project of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, welcomed Gov. Hickenlooper’s decision to speak publicly about his concerns:

“Governor Hickenlooper is right to express his serious reservations about the EPA’s ozone proposal. CRS recently released a report showing Colorado’s tremendous progress in improving air quality, and documenting widespread, bipartisan opposition to the EPA’s ozone plan. Now is the time for Washington to listen to state and local leaders, not impose costly new regulations that will punish states and their citizens.

It’s not too late for President Obama to listen to state and local officials from all over Colorado and across the nation before moving forward with EPA’s plan. In 2011, the President made the right call and withdrew a similar proposal after an outcry from state and local leaders. With more voices like those in Colorado speaking up, I am hopeful he will take into consideration their concerns, the fragile state of the economy and make the right call again.”

Hickenlooper is the second statewide Democrat in Colorado to express concerns about the EPA’s ozone agenda. During an Aug. 26 panel discussion hosted by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, Sen. Bennet said he was “deeply concerned” about the EPA’s ozone proposal, which is “a perfect example of applying the law but doing it in a way that doesn’t make sense on the ground.” Sen. Bennet also noted that background ozone – from international sources, wildfires and other states – will put much of Colorado in violation of the proposed standard, which “doesn’t make any sense” and is “not going to work.” His Republican counterpart, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, was on the same panel and warned the EPA’s ozone plan “would be the most expensive regulation proposed in history.”

In August, CRS released a report, “Slamming the Brakes: How Washington’s Ozone Plan Will Hurt the Colorado Economy and Make Traffic Worse,” highlighting the strong and broad-based opposition to overreaching federal policies that ignore the state’s proud history of environmental stewardship. Through interviews, letters to the Obama Administration and other channels, a bipartisan coalition of state lawmakers, local officials and leaders of the business community are sending an unmistakable message to Washington: This ozone plan goes too far.

 

Bipartisan Voices From the “Slamming the Brakes” Report:

State Senator Cheri Jahn (D):

“Coloradans care deeply about the environment. After the great progress we have made on air quality, our state should be praised, not punished. This ozone proposal out of Washington, D.C. scares my constituents, because it could hamstring our regional economy and cost jobs.

We have worked so hard to bring manufacturing jobs to Colorado, and by moving the goal posts on ozone, the EPA is going to chase manufacturing jobs away from our state. This plan could also gum up the approval process for badly needed road and transportation investments, which will make our traffic worse, and make it much harder to attract new industries, grow existing businesses, and strengthen Colorado’s middle class.”

State Senator Ellen Roberts (R):

“If the EPA carries out this ozone plan, Western Colorado will be placed at a terrible economic disadvantage. We have worked hard to responsibly care for our environment even as we grow and diversify our economy.

Tightening the ozone standard any further just does not make sense when the existing standard, which is less than 10 years old, is working. I urge the EPA to reconsider this plan and leave the 2008 standard in place.”

State Senator Mary Hodge (D):

“The EPA may have good intentions, but this ozone proposal goes too far. In Colorado, we have a strong record of growing the economy and cleaning the air using commonsense environmental regulations. Unrealistic mandates from Washington, D.C. will only hurt the Front Range economy and working families.”

State Senator Jerry Sonnenberg (R):

“The EPA’s proposed new standards would drive small family farms such as mine out of business. We have never been able to afford new equipment and if the only way to comply with this new standard is with new equipment, my family would have to leave agriculture. Even if we could meet the standards with expensive upgrades to our machinery, the increased costs to finance those upgrades, as well as the fuel and the fertilizer, takes a marginally profitable farm and turns it into one that can’t make its payments.

Unless you want to see the family farm only as a memory, one must make the EPA understand that their new standards will have a devastating effect on rural America and the agriculture economy.”

Jefferson County Commissioner Don Rosier (R):

“The ozone standards being considered by the EPA simply go too far. The Denver metro area has made great improvements in air quality since the days of the Brown Cloud. And in doing so we have reached a balance that works for our region.

But these proposed limits would put that balance at risk, along with our ability to foster the economic opportunity that our area has become known for.”

Jefferson County Commissioner Libby Szabo (R):

“It’s undeniable that the negative impact of the proposed ozone standard will be felt in people’s day-to-day lives. Coloradans are certain to face longer commutes and even worse traffic as a result of increased red tape from the federal EPA.

These rigid ozone standards could slow down the approval of new road projects, cause long delays on important infrastructure improvements, and in some cases stop projects completely because of onerous emission caps.”

Routt County Commissioners Douglas Monger (D), Cari Hermacinski (R), Timothy Corrigan (D):

“We set and meet high standards because we know it is good for our people and our state. So you might expect us to support the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed standards for ground-level ozone. Those standards, however, are too overbearing and are meeting with a lot of resistance even in places where air quality regulations are welcome…

These standards must not be implemented. If they go forward as proposed, they will do more than put good people out of work and cause hardships for communities that have done so much to protect the land, air and water around them. They will turn away a lot of people who have been receptive to the idea that government can be trusted to do environmental regulation the right way.”