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US EPA Approves Colorado Clean Air, Clean Jobs

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DENVER ­— Tuesday, September 11, 2012 — Today the US EPA announced final approval for Colorado’s State Implementation Plan for Regional Haze, a comprehensive package of emission reduction strategies with dramatic public health, environmental, and economic benefits.

Colorado's Regional Haze SIP was submitted last year after bi-partisan approval in the General Assembly, and includes critical strategies resulting from the 2010 Clean Air, Clean Jobs legislation. Specifically, two metro-area coal-fired power units totaling more than 210 MW and operated by Xcel Energy have already been retired.  Those units will be repowered, and three more units will be retired and repowered by 2017, giving Colorado the dramatic emissions reductions needed to meet current federal requirements for Regional Haze compliance.

The approved SIP will reduce harmful emissions by more than 70,000 tons per year by 2018, a significant improvement from the plan Colorado submitted a few short years ago. The reductions included in the SIP from the Clean Air, Clean Jobs plan account for more than half of those reductions and will generate more than $200 million per year in public health benefits.  

Conservation community leaders across Colorado voiced their support for EPA’s bold leadership by issuing final approval.

“Colorado’s bipartisan clean air plan is already providing healthier air for our children and helping to clear the brown cloud over Denver while strengthening our economy,” said Pamela Campos, an attorney in the Environmental Defense Fund’s Colorado office. “EPA has shown strong leadership with this approval, clearing the way for historic pollution reductions from the single largest emitters in Colorado so that we can all breathe easier.”

Once again Colorado leads the way with innovative bipartisan solutions to address our clean air and regional haze challenges,” said Pete Maysmith, Executive Director of Colorado Conservation Voters. “With EPA’s approval, Colorado’s Clean Air, Clean Jobs plan will help us to transition away from our dirtiest sources of power and reduce the pollutants causing regional haze by the most significant levels in the country.  This is a win-win for Colorado’s public health and our clean energy future.”

The EPA’s decision is recognition that Colorado’s innovative, cost effective plan will result in dramatic pollution reductions and cleaner healthier air for all,” saidJohn Nielsen, Energy Program Director at Western Resource Advocates.

“Clean Air Clean Jobs gave us the foundation to actually achieve EPA requirements for regional haze-- and to do it in a cost effective, bi-partisan way,” said Jeanne Bassett, Senior Associate for Environment Colorado. “This is allowing us to transition from the oldest, dirtiest sources of power and reduce the pollutants contributing to regional haze as well as lowering levels of pollution from mercury and ozone, ultimately leading to more protection of our environment and public health.”

"Today's decision by EPA means Coloradans can breathe cleaner air and we can move forward to retire outdated polluting coal plants up and down the front range while saving money on health care costs," said Roger Singer, Sierra Club's Senior Regional Representative. "The decision to support the state's Clean Air Clean Jobs Act and this regional haze plan is consistent with EPA's ongoing effort to reduce coal pollution, and make our air cleaner, nationwide."

Tom Bloomfield, the attorney who represented a coalition of environmental groups in the regional haze proceedings, is pleased but not surprised by EPA’s decision.  "Strong leadership and work by a wide range of interested parties yielded a regional haze solution unique to Colorado. The plan is a culmination of many years of work by many parties to develop a cost-effective pollution reduction plan that will not only help to improve the scenic vistas in Colorado, but also protect the fragile ecosystems in our national parks and wilderness areas and the public health of our citizens."

Clean Air, Clean Jobs was widely supported by a diverse group of energy companies, legislators from both political parties, public health advocates, local governments and conservation groups—demonstrating the type of bi-partisan leadership that really is putting Colorado on a ground-breaking path.