Colorado Dem Gov. Pushes Back Against EPA’s Ozone Rules

(REUTERS/Rick Wilking)

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Colorado’s Democratic governor wants the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to consider halting its new overarching regulations on ozone levels.

“So, I think it would be a great idea if they suspended the standard,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said Thursday during a meeting in Denver. “I mean, just with the background [ozone emissions], if you’re not going to be able to conform to a standard like this, you are leaving the risk or the possibility that there will be penalties of one sort or another that come from your lack of compliance.”

The EPA’s new rules are meant to tighten ground-level ozone limits from 75 parts per billion to 70 ppb. The agency, at the time, argued the new ozone standards are crucial for protecting public health.

Public officials and industry groups are warning the new standards will debilitate the trucking industry, as well as dramatically effect basic public transportation.

The changes are especially pronounced in Western states.

Insiders in California, for instance, say meeting the EPA’s new regulations while attempting to fall in line with state targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions will require a wholesale change in California’s transportation sector over the next 20 years.

“We have to go to zero tailpipe emissions,” Mark Z. Jacobson, professor of environmental engineering at Stanford University, told the Los Angeles Times. “There’s really no other solution.”

Hickenlooper, for his part, went through a grinding gubernatorial campaign in 2014, at which time he was forced to straddle the line between his anti-fossil fuel constituents on one side, and Colorado’s heavily oil- and gas-dependent economy on the other.

Colorado energy insiders say Hickenlooper’s brush back is telling, especially considering the governor’s past anti-fossil fuel stances.

“When the Democratic governor of a swing state sounds the alarm, you know there must be something really wrong with the Obama EPA’s new ozone cap,” Simon Lomax, energy analyst at the Colorado-based Independence Institute, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

During a 10-year stretch from 2004 to 20014, Colorado’s natural gas output increased by 51 percent, according to data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The state generates nearly 60 percent of its electricity through coal, 22 percent from natural gas, and a scant 18 percent from renewable energy.

The governor even acknowledged late in the 2014 campaign that “many in my party feel that hydraulic fracturing or any kind of hydrocarbon extraction is dangerous and should be banned,” before noting: “I’ve gone against the party there.”

Hickenlooper issued a warning during the meeting, telling the the attendees the state, regardless the EPA’s smog rules, is working diligently to ratchet down its smog levels. He added it is not constructive to punish states for violating the new rules when they’re working as hard as they can to clean up the air.

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