CDPHE: Governor signs bill providing Colorado with new resources to improve air quality
DENVER (June 30, 2020): Governor Polis today signed into law Senate Bill 20-204, enhancing the state’s ability to improve air quality and protect public health and the environment by providing the Department of Public Health and Environment’s Air Pollution Control Division with new resources for monitoring, inspection, and enforcement.
The new law represents another step in the state’s ambitious agenda to improve air quality, reduce emissions and eliminate long-standing public health inequities in Colorado. Over the past year, the state has approved rules creating a new zero emission vehicle standard, reducing emissions at oil and gas sites and phasing out the use of hydrofluorocarbons in Colorado.
“Today’s bill signing means more inspections at oil and gas sites across the state. It means clearing a backlog of permit applications. It means more resources for air quality monitoring and the kind of high-quality scientific research that is the backbone of our regulatory efforts. But above all, it means a happier, healthier and more prosperous Colorado,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director, CDPHE.
The Air Pollution Control Division receives much of its funding through the state’s Stationary Source Fund. The law (SB20-204) will increase fees for the Stationary Source Fund starting July 1 of this year, and again on July 1, 2021. These fees will enable the division to enhance inspections and monitoring at oil and gas sites and more efficiently process permit applications.
“This is a tremendous victory for Colorado and the long-term health and well-being of our residents,” said Garry Kaufman, director of the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division. “We thank the legislature and the Governor for making this a priority. We plan to continue our innovative, science-based strategies, and we are so grateful to have more resources now, which will enable us to be even more responsive to community needs.”
With the additional resources, the division will be able to hire more inspectors, while also significantly scaling up infrared camera monitoring at oil and gas sites. This will enhance the division’s ability to minimize emissions at oil and gas sites, as laid out in SB19-181, while further protecting the health and well-being of Coloradans who live near those sites.
New permitting employees will help the division clear the backlog of permit applications, ensuring that regulated entities operate under the most up to date and scientifically rigorous emissions limits.
In addition, the law (SB20-204) creates a new Air Quality Enterprise to fund additional air quality research, including monitoring, modelling and other assessments. As a result, the state will be better positioned to collaborate with world-class air quality researchers in Colorado’s universities and research labs.
“Colorado has ambitious air quality goals, and this law will help us achieve them,” said John Putnam, director of environmental programs for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Whether it’s bringing the Front Range into attainment for federal ozone pollution standards, improving the air Coloradans breathe or minimizing emissions at oil and gas sites, we are now better equipped on all fronts.”