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ICYMI: Denver Won’t Meet New, Lower Ozone Limits In Next Decade

02/22/2016

The Denver Business Journal reports:

A new report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says metro Denver will not comply with new, lower limits on ozone by 2025 — potentially jeopardizing business interests around the state.

When the EPA last October lowered the limit for ozone in the air, Colorado officials quickly sounded the alarm that the state’s “unique challenges” with high levels of difficult-to-control background ozone could hamper compliance efforts.

But some say the state is being set up to fail to comply with the new standard.

And in the Rocky Mountain West, computer modeling shows that up to half of the ozone in the air on any given day is “background” ozone, meaning that it’s created from natural sources, events that can’t be controlled such as wildfires, or blown into the region from other states or from overseas, said Will Allison, the director of the CDPHE’s Air Pollution Control Division.

The EPA took a look at the concerns raised by Colorado and other western states, and in late December issued a white paper that included the results of its modeling of how different parts of the U.S. would fare under the agency’s new, lower ozone limit of 70 parts per billion.

And it’s not looking good for the Denver area, which has struggled for years to hit the old ozone limit of 75 parts per billion.

But state Sen. Cheri Jahn, a Wheat Ridge Democrat and small-business owner, is worried about what will happen to Colorado’s status, and businesses, if the state doesn’t meet the EPA’s new lower limits.

“This is just setting us up to fail,” Jahn said.

“I think we’re being set up. There’s too much going on around the state, and when you have all that background ozone coming into the state, I don’t know how we’re going to deal with it,” Jahn said. “When it’s already known that Colorado can’t make it, then is the goal to help states become more ozone friendly? Or is to punish them?”

Andy Spielman — chairman of Colorado’s Regional Air Quality Council, which oversees the state’s compliance with federal air quality standards — said the state has made “remarkable progress” dealing with air quality issues that it can control.

“The inescapable conclusion, however, is that tough policy calls will have to be made to comply with these new federal requirements,” Spielamn said.

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