DENVER, CO – The House today passed legislation on a preliminary vote that would improve Colorado’s air quality and reduce harmful emissions. HB23-1294 would strengthen measures to reduce ozone and increase opportunities for public engagement to improve the permitting process.
“Whether in Denver or along the Front Range, high levels of ozone are dangerous for our health, and it’s vital we address this problem and center the most impacted communities in our work,” said Assistant Majority Leader Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver. “Our legislation works to improve transparency around Colorado’s air quality issues and gives Coloradans a stronger voice when sounding the alarm on poor air quality in their communities. This bill is a step forward in our ongoing work to cut back harmful emissions and improve the air we all breathe.”
“Ozone season brings poor air quality that makes it difficult for Coloradans to breathe, especially those with underlying health conditions or asthma,” said Rep. Jenny Willford, D-Northglenn. “We’re stepping up to strengthen our permitting and enforcement processes so we can combat harmful emissions and prioritize Coloradans’ health. This legislation works to give Coloradans more input when it comes to the air quality in their own neighborhood through strengthening the public complaint process. We’re committed to helping Colorado reach its climate goals and cleaning up our air.”
HB23-1294 works to protect communities from air pollution by bolstering the procedures and requirements for emissions permits in Colorado. There are thousands of “minor” sources - including many oil and gas wells - that are significant contributors to Colorado’s ozone problem.The American Lung Association recently ranked metro Denver’s ozone pollution as the sixth worst in the United States. The Denver Metro and Front Range area was recently downgraded by the Environmental Protection Agency to “severe” nonattainment status and a majority of Coloradans live in an area that fails to comply with National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQs) for ozone.
This bill works to improve public engagement in the permit enforcement process by elevating complaints by impacted communities and setting clear timelines for agency action in response to these complaints to better protect communities. The bill also strengthens consideration of cumulative impacts of oil and gas operations during the permitting process and would create the Legislative Interim Committee on Ozone Air Quality to investigate the factors contributing to ozone pollution and identify policy solutions to improve air quality in the state.