Commissioners urge state to push back on proposed EPA change
Published on June 10, 2021
A recent proposal by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) to move all of Weld County into the ozone nonattainment area has the Board of Weld County Commissioners urging businesses and residents of northern Weld County to contact the state and voice opposition to the change.
The proposed change, which would enforce the 2015 ozone standard in the northern areas of the county not currently in the ozone nonattainment area, is contrary to both the prior designation by the U.S. EPA and the recommendation of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). It also will create a conflict as the nonattainment area boundary for the 2015 ozone standard would be different than the boundary for the 2008 ozone standard, both of which are still in effect.
The court decision that remanded this decision to EPA made it very clear that U.S. EPA could keep the boundary where it has been for many years if U.S. EPA just did a better job of supporting their previous decision.
That said, the data in the record have not changed since U.S. EPA first issued their decision. Further, more recent data gathered and analyzed by independent consultants for Weld County have come to the same conclusions that the state of Colorado made: the interaction of weather, topography and emissions in northern Weld County do not contribute to ozone at violating monitors on high ozone days. In fact, the contribution of northern Weld County to violating monitors is similar to, or even less than, other areas outside of the nonattainment area, such as northern Larimer County and western Morgan County.
The Weld County Board of County Commissioners believes that such a consequential decision should be based on the best available data and analysis. To that end, Weld County invested over $600,000 in the installation of three new air quality monitors in Weld County last year and will continue to fund operation of these monitors for the foreseeable future. Further, Weld County will be commenting extensively on the proposed redesignation directly to U.S. EPA.
The Board encourages potentially affected residents and businesses in northern Weld County to also comment to U.S. EPA, and to Governor Polis and CDPHE, urging them to keep the ozone nonattainment boundary the same for both the 2008 and 2015 standards.
Comments are due by July 14, 2021 and can be submitted to EPA on the following website https://www.regulations.gov/commenton/EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0548-0459.