As wildfire smoke hangs over Colorado, state’s air quality board inches toward plan to reduce haze
A 90-degree haze of wildfire smoke and other pollutants hung over Colorado’s mountain valleys and cities Thursday, increasingly beyond the control of state government officials, who inched forward in their efforts to make improvements to future air quality.
Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission, appointed by Gov. Jared Polis, unanimously approved a state health department proposal Thursday to satisfy an Environmental Protection Agency requirement to address controllable sources of that haze by counting utilities’ already-planned closures of coal-fired power plants by 2036.
Then, next year, the commissioners will consider tighter controls on industrial plants not scheduled for closure, including cement factories and the Suncor Energy refinery north of Denver.
The EPA regional haze rule says states must submit plans to reduce haze enough to ensure “natural” visibility by 2064 in 156 national parks, wilderness areas and other federally-managed places where air pollution has obscured views.
Air Pollution Control Division planner Lisa Devore distinguished between “what is controllable versus what is uncontrollable” and told commissioners locking in utilities’ voluntary commitments would make them “federally enforceable” — and beyond haze, will help cut emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases that accelerate climate change. A state plan that lawmakers ordered to cut greenhouse gas pollution is overdue.
Read more via The Denver Post.