Call for Federal Intervention Into Colorado Air Pollution    


For Immediate Release:  Tuesday, February 2, 2021
Contact:  Chandra Rosenthal [PEER] (303) 898-0798; Kirsten Stade


Call for Federal Intervention Vs Colorado Air Pollution


State Inaction on Coal Plant Emissions Endangering Public Health

Denver — Colorado is not in compliance with National Ambient Air Quality Standards for sulfur dioxide (SO2), a coalition of environmental groups charge.  The coalition is formally asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to resolve the state’s non-compliance with this air quality standard within thirty days or face litigation.

In June, the coalition consisting of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the Center for Biological Diversity and five other community groups asked the State of Colorado to modify the coal power facility permits to address –

  • Excessive amounts of SO2 being pumped into Colorado’s air by the Pawnee, Craig, Comanche and Hayden Generating Stations;
  • The actual emissions reported to EPA’s Air Markets Program show that Pawnee is routinely in violation of the 1-hr SO2 national air standards and should be reclassified as being in “non-attainment,” thus triggering more stringent emission requirements; and
  • Faulty modeling that relies upon meteorological data that does not adequately represent that of the conditions at the power plants.

Today, after waiting more than seven months for the state’s response, the coalition is notifying EPA of the need to redress these ongoing violations of the Clean Air Act.  The now Biden-led EPA could directly intervene or could impose sanctions on Colorado’s air quality program.  If EPA does not act within 30 days, the coalition could file a lawsuit under the citizen enforcement provisions of the Clean Air Act seeking a court order correcting the air quality violations.

“The State’s apparent excuse for failing to control pollution at these coal power plants is that the plants will eventually close. However, the state’s inaction is endangering the health of Colorado’s residents.” states Chandra Rosenthal, Director of Rocky Mountain PEER. “That is why we are looking to EPA to intervene and address the illegal harmful emissions.”

SO2 and ozone irritate the respiratory system and can trigger or aggravate respiratory diseases such as asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis. Short- and long-term exposure to SO2 results in increased visits to doctors and emergency rooms, hospital admissions, and premature deaths. According to recent studies, exposure to these pollutants is linked to COVID-19 cases and may be one of the most important contributors to COVID-related mortality

“Fossil Fuel production and climate disasters are already disrupting millions of lives. For far too long BIPOC and frontline communities have been sacrifice zones for the pollution caused by oil and gas companies,” says Amy Gray, the Justice, Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Director at 350 Colorado. “That’s why we’re asking the Biden administration to protect and invest in the Black, Indigenous, Brown, and working-class communities that have borne the brunt of fossil fuel pollution and climate disasters. Reject new fossil fuel projects, eliminate giveaways to oil gas, and coal corporations, and end the era of fossil fuel production.”

“President Biden has made clear in his recent Executive Orders that people facing toxic pollution are a top priority. Across Colorado, people are exposed to air pollution and the disparity in COVID rates, complications, and deaths show the results of ignoring the hard data about air toxins.“ states Ean Tafoya of the Colorado Latino Forum. “It is time for a new era –placing health and safety first.”

“This is an easy step for the new administration.” says Laura Hickernell, Organizing Manager for Mothers Out Front in Colorado. “EPA can do something as simple as including a monitoring level in an air permit and follow their own laws. EPA has the opportunity to take this step in making a livable climate for our children.”



Read the notice to EPA 

See June request to Colorado

Examine research linking air pollution and COVID 19

Coalition members
PEER supports current and former public employees who seek a higher standard of environmental ethics and scientific integrity within their agencies. We do this by defending whistleblowers, shining the light on improper or illegal government actions, working to improve laws and regulations, and supporting the work of other organizations. 
At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive. 
The Colorado Latino Forum’s mission is to increase the political, social, and economic strength of Latinas and Latinos in Colorado and focuses on environmental justice issues. 
350 Colorado is building the local grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis and transition to a sustainable future. 
Colorado Sierra Club’s mission is to protect the earth by educating, empowering and inspiring people to make change. 
Mothers Out Front: We build our power as mothers to ensure a livable climate for all children.  
Colorado Jewish Climate Action was created to utilize our power as a local Jewish community to combat climate change. Our focus is around increasing energy efficiency, supporting local climate change political initiatives and inspiring others to get involved at the local level  

Phone: 202-265-7337

962 Wayne Avenue, Suite 610
Silver Spring, MD 20910-4453

Copyright 2001–2024 Public Employees for
Environmental Responsibility

PEER is a 501(c)(3) organization
EIN: 93-1102740