When it comes to Colorado’s air pollution, why not blame Utah? The EPA does.

The federal agency refuses to approve Utah’s clean air plans until they stop violating “good neighbor” rules by sending ozone east to the Front Range.

Michael Booth
The Colorado Sun
Haze is visible from Frisco on Tuesday, June 8, 2021.
Sawyer D’Argonne/Summit Daily News archive

There’s a new strategy in Colorado’s fight against dangerous ozone air pollution: 

Blame Utah. 

Coal-fired power plants and oil and gas drilling in northeastern Utah are responsible for ozone drifting to the east into Colorado’s nine-county nonattainment zone for the pollutant, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. 

The amount of ozone that Utah is pumping toward Colorado violates the federal “good neighbor” rules of the Clean Air Act, which have been used in the past to force Eastern states to clean up coal plants to help downwind states. The EPA rejected Utah’s State Implementation Plan (SIP) for cutting ozone in February and told the state to prepare more cuts, including adding expensive scrubbing equipment to a handful of coal power plants in Utah and Wyoming. 

Utah’s legislature agreed something needed to be done and set aside $2 million — for legal fees to sue the EPA and avoid the extra cleanup. 

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