NCLA Responds to EPA’s Proposal to Expand Air Quality Non-Attainment Boundary to Include the Entirety of Weld County

Environmental Protection Agency
Public Comment on Intended Air Quality Designations for the 2015 Ozone
National Ambient Air Quality Standards; Response to the July 10, 2020,
Court Decision Addressing El Paso, Texas and Weld County, Colorado
Docket No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0548-0459

The Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance with Upstate Colorado Economic
Development Corporation, the Greeley Chamber of Commerce, the Fort Collins
Chamber of Commerce, and the Loveland Chamber of Commerce shares, with strong
interest, our concerns with the EPA’s proposal to include northern Weld County, and
therefore the entirety of Weld County, in the Denver Metro/North Front Range (“DM/
NFR”) non-attainment area.

Sadly, this proposal is a reversal of your prior designation made in 2018 without any
significant additional analysis. The proposal to include northern Weld County within the
nonattainment boundary is based on a virtually identical record prepared for its original
2018 designation, which did not change the boundary from the 2008 Ozone National
Ambient Air Quality Standard (“NAAQS”). Further, the current boundary has proven
satisfactory for rigorous SIP review by the EPA for many years.

By proposing to move the boundary, we believe firmly that the EPA needs to start over,
reviewing all five factors required for boundary designation, not just the two factors the
D.C. Circuit court described in its remand of the original 2018 designation to the EPA
(the “emissions” and “topography” factors). Northern Weld County is remote and
rural, so imposing non-attainment area emission control strategies will come at high
cost and little benefit. Therefore, we concur in Weld County’s opinion that the EPA has
failed to adequately respond to the D.C. Circuit’s remand in Clean Wisconsin v. EPA,
964 F.3d 1145 (D.C. Cir. 2020).

Emissions in northern Weld, not even quantified by the EPA to support its
redesignation, have gone down in recent years due to aggressive, state-only, state-wide regulations enacted by the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission.

Accordingly, imposing NAA controls on top of that will have very little or no air quality
benefit at violating monitors in the urbanized Denver Metro area. The EPA has chosen to ignore the last four years of the most current data and
modeling by limiting its review to the original record. This decision is arbitrary and
capricious and contrary to its previous regulatory decisions:

◦ (1) The EPA’s primary priority should be to ensure its redesignation
decision, which would likely have significant and lasting economic
consequences for stakeholders, is based on sound and current scientific
data and analysis. Indeed, a decision to expand the DM/NFR boundary is
going to extend Colorado’s extensive non-attainment area regulatory
requirements to various facilities and industries that have never before
been subject to such onerous regulatory standards. This may require
expensive facility upgrades and expansion of company compliance
programs, not to mention the significant cost to the state and local
governments to now enforce upon and monitor compliance with these
regulatory standards. Considering the significant consequences of its
decision, the EPA’s decision to rush this process at the expense of sound
scientific analysis is itself arbitrary and capricious.

◦ (2) The EPA has consistently considered additional and more current air
quality monitoring data in making its past redesignation decisions. It
should do the same here

The most current data does not support including northern Weld County in the
nonattainment boundary. It is the people of Weld County who will bear the brunt of the
EPA’s hasty, ill-supported decision for literally decades, with little or no air quality
benefit to show for their trouble. Where’s the national consistency in that?

Submitted Respectfully by:
Steve Tool, Chair of the Board
Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance

Rich Werner, President/CEO
Upstate Colorado Economic Development

Jaime Henning, President/CEO
Greeley Chamber of Commerce

Ann Hutchison,President/CEO
Fort Collins Chamber of Commerce

Mindy McCloughan, President/CEO
Loveland Chamber of Commerce

Our
Partners

© 2021 Fort Collins, Greeley & Loveland Chambers of Commerce • Northern Colorado Economic Development Corp. • Upstate Colorado Economic Development