The EPA just updated Bush-era ozone levels. While we commend strengthening of the standard, it is disappointing to see the agency apparently cave to industry lobbying efforts by establishing the weakest limit recommended by their scientific advisory panel.
In the Four Corners, our 3 coal-fired power plants have been the major sources of nitrous oxides while oil and gas development have been major contributors of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – both of which react with sunlight to form ground-level ozone. Ozone is the main component of smog, well understood to cause widespread and devastating health impacts.
See the Durango Herald’s Editorial here.
See our full press release below.
For Immediate Release
NEW EPA OZONE STANDARD DOES NOT GO FAR ENOUGH
New standard reflects the weakest recommendation from agency’s scientific panel
Durango, CO – October 1, 2015 – Today the EPA tightened their National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone down to 70 parts per billion (ppb), down from the 75 ppb limit set in 2008. While we commend the agency for updating the standard, it does not go far enough to protect public health.
San Juan Citizens Alliance joined other environmental and public health groups in urging a more stringent limit of 60 ppb. The EPA went with the weakest recommendation of its own scientific advisory panel (60-70 ppb), which may have been a result of aggressive lobbying by industry.
Ground-level ozone, the main component of smog, is formed when emissions from tailpipes, power plants and oil and gas operations react with sunlight, leading to asthma, lung and heart disease.
Although historically southwestern Colorado and northwestern New Mexico have enjoyed enviable air quality, rampant oil and gas development now put us on par with major cities. The American Lung Association’s 2015 State of the Air Report issued La Plata County a D for ozone levels and San Juan County, NM a C. Both counties are at risk of violating the new standard and citizens are bearing the health costs.