State Authorities Will Soon Announce Plan to Combat Front Range Ozone
Colorado is known for its pure mountain air, but the Front Range has one of the nation's worst ozone problems. The Environmental Protection Agency is planning to reclassify nine Front Range counties from "serious" to "severe" ozone level violators.
A record number of ozone alert days, 65, were marked in the state in the previous year. State regulators are required to devise an action plan when it surpasses the federal limit for what is considered safe.
Next week, this plan will be implemented, but several environmental and health experts warn that it does not go far enough.
"We've been here before," said Gregg Thomas, Director of Denver's Environmental Quality Division.
He says every few years, the state develops a new plan, and every time it doesn't go far enough.
"So the question is, 'are we going to continue to live on the edge and just keep doing what modelling needs us to do, knowing that we're in the right back boat?"
Ground level ozone, distinct from that in the sky, is produced when oil and gas compounds and car exhaust are exposed to the sun and heat.
The state legislature has established several regulations aimed at enhancing air quality, such as granting funds for electric school buses and providing free public transportation in August.
Danny Katz of the consumer advocacy group COPIR thinks that it can and should do far more.
"Unfortunately, a lot of different pollutants lead to high ozone, but fortunately it gives us a lot of avenues to pursue avenues to bring cleaner air."
These routes include greater incentives for electric vehicles and public transportation, more electric lawnmowers and home appliances, and a restriction on oil and gas drilling during the ozone season, according to him. Even though it will cost more, he and Thomas assert that the expenses will be even higher if we do not act immediately. Ozone can cause cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and decreased life expectancy.
"And so when does health hit that tipping point," said Thomas.
On August 5, state regulators will reveal their new ozone plan. Environmental and health advocates are asking Coloradans to weigh in before then.
Source: CBS Colorado