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Boulder County hopes bill will still help reduce pollution

Weakened air pollution act still provides opportunity to bring stronger regulations to Colorado, county said
Oil and gas
Small oil and gas operation near the county line between Boulder and Weld Counties.

Boulder County commissioners are hoping the weakened air quality legislation passed last week will still help reduce pollution along the Front Range.

Last week, the Colorado legislature passed HB23-1294, Protection Communities from Air Pollution Act, which the county supported throughout the legislative process. The bill awaits the governor’s signature before becoming law.

It was introduced as comprehensive legislation to tackle the public health crisis caused by air pollution and saw support from 47 counties, cities and towns along with health professionals and communities severely impacted by the Front Range’s poor air quality.

The proposed regulations were weakened under aggressive industry pressure, according to the county. The county also said the interim committee established with the bill will be a crucial opportunity to bring about stronger air quality regulations in Colorado.

“The public health crisis created by the unhealthy state of Colorado’s air quality continues to be a matter of equity and social justice,” Commissioner Marta Loachamin said. “We are hopeful that progress can be made over the summer by the legislature’s interim committee and that they will look meaningfully at the impact of the oil and gas industry on low income communities that are disproportionately hurt by ground level ozone.”

The final version of the bill increases enforcement of oil and gas permits based on public complaints, a strengthened air quality complaint process and rulemaking by April 2024 to define and continue progress on reducing the public health impacts of the oil and gas industry.

This summer, the interim committee composed of state representatives will look at Colorado’s air quality problem, explore additional measures to reduce ground level ozone and identify potential reforms to the permitting process.

“Boulder County will continue to share its air quality expertise and years of scientific data in order to advocate for stricter controls on oil and gas operations and other industries that are poisoning our air,” Commissioner Claire Levy said. “Over the summer, we will work with state elected leaders to bring about stronger legislation in the 2024 legislative session.”