Senator Mark Udall joined the Colorado congressional delegation today in commendeding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's final approval of Colorado's State Implementation Plan (SIP) to reduce regional haze pollution in Colorado's national parks and wilderness areas. The EPA's adoption of the state's plan means the proposal will be implemented through 2018.
Implementation of the SIP will help significantly reduce harmful effects of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and other pollutants in Class I areas in Colorado, which are national parks and wilderness areas protected under the Regional Haze Program. The proposal was reviewed and endorsed by a broad, bipartisan coalition of stakeholder groups and elected officials in Colorado before Governor John Hickenlooper submitted it to the EPA. The strategy gained preliminary approval from the EPA in March.
"The EPA's approval of Colorado's regional haze state implementation plan is welcome news for residents across the state," Udall said. "Colorado's air quality affects our health, economy, quality of life and our ability to fully appreciate the scenic vistas across the state. I am pleased to hear that the EPA has responded to the work of the broad coalition of stakeholders and our bipartisan congressional delegation so we can move forward with Colorado's regional haze state implementation plan."
"The EPA's decision means Colorado can move forward with its plans to help improve public health, increase visibility and reduce haze pollution in our national parks and wilderness areas, which are strong drivers of Colorado's tourism and recreation economy," Senator Michael Bennet said. "The EPA has recognized the strong bipartisan support this plan received from conservation groups, electric utilities, and the state legislature, which is a testament to everyone who worked to move the proposal forward."
"Today's decision by the EPA heralds improvements to air quality and public health throughout the state," said Representative Diana DeGette. "I'm extremely pleased that the plan has been approved to reduce haze pollution in our national parks and wildness areas. Colorado's wild lands are important to our lifestyle, and an integral part of our state's economy."
"This is a workable plan to protect the air in Colorado's national parks and wilderness areas," Representative Doug Lamborn said. "What is especially positive about this plan is that it comes from those most closely affected, rather than being mandated from Washington. Many local stakeholders have worked hard to make sure this plan includes a diversity of voices and concerns. The plan is consistent with Colorado's efforts to develop a balanced electricity portfolio that includes coal, natural gas, and renewable energy."
"This action represents what a united, broad range of stakeholders can achieve when working together," Representative Ed Perlmutter said. "This plan is a proud product of consensus from utilities, environmental interests, and the general public in Colorado. The agreement will allow Coloradans to better enjoy our unmatched surroundings and improve our health. I'm proud to support it."
"The decision to approve the Regional Haze Pollution Plan developed by Colorado is a positive step forward in the relationship between the EPA and the states," Representative Mike Coffman said. "Colorado has the ability to develop and administer our own environmental regulations. I hope the EPA will recognize the need for flexibility and local authority in other areas of regulatory policy."
"Coloradans want us working together to protect our health and that of our children by working to reduce haze pollution and enhance our enjoyment of Colorado's most beautiful spaces and places," Representative Jared Polis said. "Since tourism within our national parks and wilderness areas is such an essential part of our state's economy, and the health of our families priceless, I'm pleased that we were able to work together on this sensible proposal."
"Colorado's proposal for reducing regional haze is an aggressive and workable plan that falls in line with our state's record of environmental stewardship," Representative Cory Gardner said. "Now that it has received final approval, we can move forward with improving the visibility and the air quality in our beautiful state."
"There's nothing more refreshing than taking a deep breath of clean, crisp Rocky Mountain air," Representative Scott Tipton said. "I'm pleased to see that Colorado's plan to reduce haze pollution is moving forward because it's a common sense, locally-driven solution that will keep our state's most beautiful areas clean, and ensure that all who visit or call our state home have the opportunity to enjoy one of the things that truly makes this the best place to live in the nation."
In December, the delegation wrote a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson in support of Colorado's State Implementation Plan to reduce regional haze pollution.