Colorado a ‘Serious’ Violator of Air Quality Standards
The challenge with air pollution is that, to the public, it's out of sight out of mind.
On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday reclassified Colorado as a “serious” violator of federal air quality laws.
This requires Colorado to reduce pollution by 2021. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment air pollution control officials will issue some 600 permits to meet health standards.
“The air in beautiful Colorado has been unsafe to breathe for far too long,” Center For Biological Diversity attorney Robert Ukeiley told Denver Post.
Colorado has had poor air quality since 2004, according to Denver Post, emitting 25 billion more pollutants than recommended by the World Health Organization
Since 2004, Colorado has been flunking federal air quality health standards with ozone air pollution exceeding a decade-old federal limit of 75 parts per billion, let alone the current limit of 70 parts per billion. The World Health Organization recommends no more than 50 parts per billion to protect human health. Europe has set a limit of 60 parts per billion.
According to Westworld, these are Colorado's 5 biggest air polluters:
- Comanche Generating Station, Pueblo
- Operated by Xcel Energy, Comanche emitted nearly 9 million tons of carbon-dioxide-equivalent in 2017, according to EPA data.
- Suncor Energy Oil Refinery, Commerce City
Located just a few miles north of central Denver.
In May 2019, Suncor requested an amendment to its state air-quality permit. Denver Post reported that the amendment would allow Suncor to release an additional 6 tons of hydrogen cyanide gas into the air annually, reaching 20 tons.
Hydrogen cyanide is a toxic gas that was used in gas chambers in Nazi Germany.
- West Elk Mine, Somerset
The state’s largest individual emitter of methane, an especially potent greenhouse gas, is one of its last active coal mines, according to Westworld.
In 2016, former governor John Hickenlooper supported operator Arch Coal’s request for an expansion of the mine, which could significantly raise its emissions levels.
- EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel, Pueblo
The EVRAZ facility is Colorado’s fourth-largest individual emitter of fine-particle pollution and its third-largest source of airborne lead.
- Waste Management Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site, Aurora
As our landfills decompose, they release methane which is 30 times more potent than at trapping heat than CO2. Denver residents send 3 million tons of waste to the landfill annually, that's 6 billion pounds.
- Denver International Airport, Denver
The fuel burned by aircraft at DIA is a major source of emissions, but ground operations at the country's largest commercial airport by, surface area, are a significant source of pollutants.
- You and Me, Everywhere
The first rule of sustainable living is to use what you already have. You can practice responsible consumerism by saying no to as much packaging and waste as possible.