EPA Gives Initial Approval to Colorado's Plan - Backed by Delegation - to Reduce Regional Haze Pollution

The Colorado Congressional delegation today applauded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) preliminary approval of Colorado’s State Implementation Plan (SIP) to reduce regional haze pollution in Colorado’s national parks and wilderness areas. The EPA’s proposal to adopt the plan would approve the Colorado strategy through 2018.

The SIP is designed to significantly reduce harmful emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and other pollutants in Class I areas in Colorado, which are national parks and wilderness areas protected under the Regional Haze Program. The SIP was reviewed and endorsed by a broad, bipartisan coalition of stakeholder groups and elected officials in Colorado before Governor John Hickenlooper submitted it to the EPA.

“EPA’s announcement marks a significant endorsement of Colorado’s plan aimed at improving public health, increasing visibility and reducing haze pollution in our great national parks and wilderness areas, which drive so much of Colorado’s tourism and recreation economy,” said Senator Michael Bennet. “I am pleased that the EPA has recognized the broad support for this plan in Colorado from conservation groups to electric utilities to both houses of the state legislature.”

“Air pollution in Colorado’s iconic national parks and wilderness areas puts at risk not only the health and enjoyment of our state’s special places – but also the people who depend on recreation and tourism for their livelihoods,” Senator Mark Udall said.  “I’m extremely thankful for the work of the broad, bipartisan group of Coloradans who worked hard to develop the SIP.  And I applaud EPA’s decision to advance the plan to final approval and implementation.”

“Today’s decision by the EPA will help ensure Colorado’s air is cleaner and our families’ health is protected,” said Representative Diana DeGette. “As someone who’s worked tirelessly to protect our natural heritage, I’m extremely pleased that the plan will address visibility concerns in our parks and wilderness areas. The exemplary local process to craft the SIP brought together diverse and bipartisan stakeholders like the state’s electric utilities, conservation organizations, state legislature, the governor, and others, and the result is a decision today that will help us all breathe easier.”

“Colorado’s plan to meet regional haze requirements under the Clean Air Act is a carefully designed approach that is the result of a wide ranging public process that included numerous state agencies, environmental groups, industry and the Colorado legislature,” said Representative Doug Lamborn.  “The plan is consistent with Colorado’s efforts to develop a balanced electricity portfolio that includes well-controlled coal, natural gas and renewable energy and I am pleased to see the EPA indicate it is proposing approving the Colorado plan.”

“Every year pollution costs Coloradans millions of dollars in healthcare costs,” said Representative Ed Perlmutter. “I am pleased to work with the EPA to find innovative ways to reduce pollution in our state.”

“Our national parks and wilderness areas are some of our state’s greatest treasures and I am pleased the EPA is going to allow Colorado to proceed with our own plan to reduce air pollution and improve public health in those areas,” Representative Mike Coffman said.

“Colorado is known for its special places and crisp Rocky Mountain air,” said Representative Jared Polis. “The EPA’s approval of Colorado’s plan is a testament to stakeholder collaboration and the shared understanding that keeping our state’s celebrated landscapes pristine means protecting Colorado’s health, culture and economy.”

“Colorado’s Regional Haze SIP has had broad, bi-partisan support and will enhance visibility through the reduction in various emissions across Colorado,” said Representative Cory Gardner.  “I am thrilled that EPA has decided to accept the Colorado plan and look forward to the benefits Coloradoans and their visitors will experience as a result of this decision.”

In December, the delegation sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson in support of Colorado’s State Implementation Plan to reduce regional haze pollution.