Colorado mulls ways to cut smog, meet federal limits | AspenTimes.com

Colorado mulls ways to cut smog, meet federal limits

Judith Kohler
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” State regulators are considering new rules to bring the Denver area and other parts of Colorado’s Front Range into compliance with federal air-quality standards.

Last year, federal officials said the nine-county was producing more ozone than government standards allow. The area includes Denver and parts of Weld, Larimer and Douglas counties.

Colorado could face federal sanctions if it doesn’t reduce the pollution.

The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission held a second day of hearings Friday on stricter regulations on the oil and gas industry and vehicles.

Ground-level ozone is a key component of smog and is a health risk for children and people with respiratory problems. It forms when the sun bakes pollutants such as vehicle exhaust and vapors from everything from paint cans to oil and gas wells.

The state tightened standards on the oil and gas industry in late 2006. Regulators said pollution from oil and gas production has increased with expanded drilling in northern Colorado while emissions from other sources have declined.

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The Environmental Protection Agency held off declaring the Front Range out of compliance while Colorado adopted a pollution-reduction plan. It officially found the Denver area in violation of federal standards after high ozone readings the summer of 2007.

The state must submit a plan to cut ozone by July 1. The Legislature will consider what the commission adopts.

The proposals include stricter controls on tanks at oil and gas wells. Vapors venting from the tanks that collect liquids contribute to the ozone levels, regulators say.

Companies would have to reduce emissions by 81 percent next year; 90 percent by May 2011; and 95 percent by May 2012.

State regulators have also asked the EPA to expand the area along the Front Range where vehicle emissions tests and cleaner-burning gasoline are required.

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