One good thing about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new ozone standard is that the new, 70 parts per billion limit won’t make Colorado’s ongoing struggle with ozone any bigger geographically.
“We don’t expect that the non-attainment areas will expand geographically,” said Will Allison, the director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s air pollution control division.
But state officials do have concerns about the new standard’s impact on the state, and they will be talking to the EPA about issues unique to Colorado and other western states, such as the fact that the Rocky Mountains can act as a trap for air pollution flowing across the Pacific Ocean from Asia, Allison said.
The state’s high altitude and pattern of lightning storms also contribute to ozone levels — but there’s very little Colorado officials can do to interfere with Mother Nature.
“We’re starting out at a higher level [for ozone] than many parts of the country,” Allison said.
“There are interstate and international issues and we don’t have the ability or obligation to address things that we can’t control, whether it’s Mother Nature or emissions from sources outside the state,” he said.