Controversial air pollution bill now takes effect in Colorado despite industry opposition

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Governor Jared Polis has signed a bill that will strengthen Colorado’s air pollution police beyond what the US Environmental Protection Agency currently requires.

The new law targets 188 pollutants that the federal government recognizes as hazardous but does not directly regulate under the Clean Air Act.

The Air Quality Control Commission will be responsible for determining the highest priority contaminants based on their potential risk to public health and developing regulations to reduce their presence in the air.

The law also increases air monitoring around the state and requires companies to report their annual emissions of certain pollutants.

In order to get HB22-1244 passed, its Democratic sponsors agreed to some changes, including only studying the feasibility of passing a new program to regulate polluters instead of requiring the commission to create such a program. A last-minute amendment also gave lawmakers the final say on health-based ambient air quality standards for priority toxins.

Despite these changes, State Senator Julie GonzalesD-Denver, told CPR News the plan remains a win for communities of color hardest hit by air pollution.

“We’ve had to make concessions along the way, but the health and safety of our children and our communities – when we know that polluting companies are spewing toxins into the air – it’s worth it.”

Opposition to the bill has come from Xcel Energy, Suncor Energy – a financial backer from CPR News – and other companies with heavy industrial operations in urban areas. After it passed in the final days of the session, business groups urged Polis to veto it.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses warned that the law duplicated existing EPA regulations and would create “contentious landmines” for the state if it did not enact the law in full.

In addition to HB22-1244, Polis has also signed the creation of a range of grant programs to get industries and local governments to reduce their air pollution. The $124 million package will fund things like voluntary upgrades to industrial, manufacturing and cannabis facilities, rebates to help people buy e-bikes, programs for school districts to switch to electric buses and more. aerial pollution surveys.

CPR’s Sam Brasch contributed to this story.

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