COLORADO SPRINGS – Monitoring results by Colorado’s Air Pollution Control Division show air quality in Denver and the northern Front Range has worsened and the region missed an extended deadline to meet federal health standards.
The EPA is now expected to downgrade the Front Range region’s ozone to “serious,” which means stricter regulations will be imposed.
Mike Silverstein, executive director of the Regional Air Quality Council, the air-quality planning agency for the Denver metro area, says the nine-county region spanning from south of Denver nearly to the Wyoming border is not giving up on meeting the ozone standard.
The region of Colorado not only flunked the EPA standard set in 2015, but it never met the older, less-strict standard from 2008. EPA records show the Colorado Springs and other areas of the state are doing fine.
The Clean Air Act was put into place back in 1972. At one time, Denver was famous for its “Brown Cloud.” Then the city jumped into action to implement bans on construction of new wood-burning fireplaces and on the use of old wood-burning fireplaces on pollution ”alert” days, about 50 days a winter.
About 10 percent of the air pollution in the city comes from street dust, largely caused by the sand placed on the roadways to help commuters on winter days. The sand was ground down into a fine powder and then kicked up into the air. City trucks now use alternative de-icing agents and they have cut down on the amount of sand that is used on their streets.
Colorado enacted the nation’s first oxygenated fuels program. You may not have noticed at the pump, but the fuel blend is different and it’s required to have a 3 percent oxygen content.
With all of the changes, the Denver Metro area isn’t really known for its “Brown Cloud” anymore.
The good news is, that air quality in Colorado Springs and southern Colorado is good. Denver has challenges that we thankfully don’t have.