DENVER (KDVR) — Air quality and pollution have gotten worse in Colorado.
That’s what the Environmental Protection Agency said after downgrading air pollution violation levels in the northern front range from “serious” to “severe.”
Democrats at the Colorado State House want to make a committee that investigates the cause of air pollution with the goal of setting rules to lower it.
On the other side, Republicans said air pollution isn’t coming entirely from sources in the state, and new rules will drive up energy costs.
“Coloradans can see with their eyes that we have air quality problems,” Democratic Rep. Jennifer Bacon said.
Bacon joined other lawmakers to propose a bill to create pollution protection measures, starting with a proposed interim committee.
“It has been tasked with creating strategies,” Bacon said. “Investigating strategies to solve our air quality problem.”
Air pollution is here, there’s no argument about that from Republicans, but they do argue where it’s coming from.
“We have to make sure that we’re going after the correct source of these emissions, whether that’s vehicles, whether that’s oil and gas, whether that’s industry. There’s a lot of different areas that these emissions can come from,” Republican Rep. Gabe Evans said.
Lawmakers seem to agree it’s a dirty problem they need to clean up.
“What is important is that we named we have a problem,” Bacon said. “We named that we should legislate to it.”
“We absolutely need to get a handle on our air quality,” Evans said. “I have a kid who has asthma, so this is very personal to me.”
The argument on the right maintains that any rules against the energy sector could burden your wallet as much as the air.
“We still have a problem with our air being poor quality but we also have high energy prices at the same time,” Evans said.
Democrats said doing more of the same when it comes to the industry isn’t the answer.
“While we have toughened emissions standards, the state has also increased the number of permits it’s given out,” Bacon said. “We have over 4,000 wells.”
Bacon said that if the bill is signed into law, stakeholders on all levels will have input on lowering air pollution in the state. This would include government agencies, industry leaders, employees, and residents living in affected areas.