Last week the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment delayed consideration of important new clean air rules that are essential to rein in dangerous ozone being generated by emissions from oil and gas polluters in Colorado. The Department's Air Pollution Control Division is delaying new rules even though the U.S. EPA has already designated nine Colorado counties as violating federal air pollution standards that were established to protect human health.
Ozone pollution is very harmful to the respiratory system, in particular for vulnerable populations like children, the elderly, and people with respiratory diseases like asthma. Next door to Colorado, a study conducted by the Wyoming Department of Health documented an association between spikes in ground-level ozone and clinic visits for adverse respiratory-related health effects.
In Colorado, oil and gas production is the number one source for pollutants that cause ozone. And ozone levels are getting higher, in particular on the front range and the western slope. The Hickenlooper administration keeps approving new oil and gas permits, but at the same time is delaying new air quality rules needed to protect the public from this increased dirty energy production. Why? Well, the oil and gas industry has asked for the delay. The Hickenlooper administration should not put oil and gas industry profits before children's health.
Below is a terrific easy-to-understand infographic from Conservation Colorado that explains the causes and risks of ozone and, as they say, why "you won’t want to breathe after seeing this infographic." Please scroll down to see it.