EPA compliance: a job generator

In anticipation of emission requirements of the federal Clean Air Act, House Bill 1365 requires that all regulated utilities that own or operate coal-fired electric generating units submit an emissions reduction plan to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission by Aug. 15.

The plan is required to cover 900 megawatts or 50 percent of the utility’s generating capacity, whichever is less. The plan must give primary consideration to conversion of the units to natural gas or other low-emission resources, and may not cover any units already planned for retirement prior to Jan. 1, 2015.

There is no silver bullet to protect Colorado’s air quality. However, steps must be taken today to keep the state from falling out of compliance with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards for air pollutants. This action is especially important now because, if Colorado doesn’t produce a plan to reduce its emissions by early 2011, the EPA will produce a plan for us – a plan that will not be nearly as sensitive to Colorado’s concerns.

House Bill 1365 is part of the response to these air quality issues. Once a state is out of compliance (in non-attainment status) with EPA air quality standards, it must be re-certified by the EPA to be returned to compliance. Whatever regulations the EPA imposes as a result are regulations that Colorado would have to live with for many years to come. Colorado has a high level of naturally occurring ozone gases, and we must be especially vigilant in monitoring pollutants that impact ozone levels.

The long-term benefits of complying with air pollution standards have a short term benefit – jobs. Colorado’s fastest-growing industry cluster is manufacturing, and taking steps to ensure that we remain in compliance on our own terms will enable us to remain a competitive, jobs-generating state. A loss of attainment status will ensure that we cannot attract new manufacturers or other industry clusters to Denver or the rest of the state

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