Regional board to approve ozone action plan, but a Colorado coalition wants much more done

The staff of the Regional Air Quality Council admits its plan won’t reach EPA limits, and environmental groups demand far stricter caps on the toxic air.

Michael Booth
The Colorado Sun

FRONT RANGE — The northern Front Range’s newest plan to meet federal ozone-reduction mandates comes with a rare upfront admission that it won’t work.

The Regional Air Quality Council, a nonprofit board of experts and local officials charged with writing the state’s ozone compliance plan, will decide Friday on the latest proposals for trimming the hazardous ground-level gas. Colorado’s nine northern Front Range counties now have two EPA standards to meet in the state plan: A 2008 ceiling of 75 parts per billion ozone, and, as medical science cracked down on the health impact of ozone, a tougher 70 ppb ceiling set in 2015.

The nine counties east of the Front Range, from Douglas on the south to Weld on the north, are constantly violating both limits during hot, sun-baked summers, despite years of new oil and gas drilling regulations and improved automobile technology. There were 75 Ozone Action Day Alerts issued in 2021, and environmental groups point to continuing readings above the EPA limits at monitoring stations this summer.

In briefing reporters about the proposed ozone plan RAQC will consider, RAQC staff acknowledge that even the new proposals will not make enough cuts to meet the tough 2015 standards by a 2024 EPA deadline, “just two short years” away.

“It’s not possible to get us into compliance by the next due date,” Executive Director Mike Silverstein said.


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