This content was originally published by the Longmont Observer and is licensed under a Creative Commons license.
In 2019, a number of bills were passed in the Colorado legislature to help address our climate crisis. The bills are currently shaping statewide health and environmental policy and will have an impact on both state and local air pollution for years to come. Some of the same sources of greenhouse gases that are altering the climate are also sources of air pollution harmful to respiratory health. If implemented effectively, the rules could help Colorado meet its climate goals and improve the pollution levels that earned Boulder County an “F” from the American Lung Association in 2019.
“The real effects of climate change are being felt in Colorado not only in the form of higher temperatures, unpredictable precipitation, and more frequent forest fires, but also through increased ozone pollution,“ said Collin Tomb, Boulder County Public Health air quality team lead. “And since ground-level ozone as well as its precursors and associated pollutants are also greenhouse gases, high ozone and climate change reinforce each other.”
Ozone is a lung irritant that worsens respiratory diseases, including asthma. Respiratory disease is a major risk factor for severe COVID-19 outcomes.
The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission is holding its first rulemaking to reduce greenhouse gases, which will also help reduce other air pollutants. Boulder County Public Health is co-leading a coalition of local governments and health departments to urge aggressive reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The hearings on May 20 and 21 will consider actions such as requiring the reporting of GHG emissions and the phasing out of hydrofluorocarbons — powerful GHGs primarily used in cooling and refrigeration.
“Public health agencies are fighting a severe pandemic that targets the respiratory system,” said Cindy Copeland, Boulder County Public Health air quality and climate policy specialist. “This is the exact time to strengthen the rules we need to improve our air quality and preserve our climate.”
Boulder County, Boulder County Public Health, and Colorado Communities for Climate Action are working at the state level to ensure Coloradans get the air and climate protections we need now more than ever.
“We encourage residents to learn how these climate rules could affect them and to make their voices heard,” said Copeland.
Learn more about how the state climate rules are being developed at:
- www.boulderocunty.org/environment and
Public comment for the climate rulemaking hearings can be submitted online by Wednesday, May 20 to firstname.lastname@example.org or by signing up to give comments at the live, remote public comment session.
The public comment session is on May 20 from 4:30-7:30 and the public can listen to the rulemaking hearing on May 21.