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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

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NCLA Leads Business Regulatory Response to the State’s Mandated Employer Trip Reduction Program

The Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance (NCLA), submitted its concerns and issues in a formal Pre-hearing Statement to the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission on July 9 in response to the state mandated Employer Trip Reduction Program (ETRP) proposal that is pending before the Commission and undergoing its formal regulatory hearing process.  The NCLA has been convening meetings, coordinating the business community response with other similarly minded formal parties and has engaged with legal and rulemaking counsel to present the strongest case against this proposed mandatory employer-based program that will impose burdens upon employees of businesses with 100 or more employees. 

Approximately 2,600 companies across the Denver Metro Area and the North Front Range, including 350 in Larimer and Weld County, will be required to comply with pending ETRP by April of 2022.  If approved, the program will mandate that these economically critical companies with more than 100 employees at a single worksite:

  • Develop and implement a company-funded plan to reduce their employee’s Single Occupancy Vehicle (SOV) commuting to and from your worksite.  
  • Achieve a 75% SOV drive rate “goal’ by July of 2023 and 60% by 2025.
  • Identify or hire an ETRP Transportation Coordinator
  • Develop a baseline of the current SOV rates that will include commuting practices, vehicle type and other data
  • Report periodically on progress towards and sustainability of the achievement of the goal 

The Commission, according to its formal Economic Impact Analysis, estimates that, conservatively, the cost per employer to implement ETRP will range from $7,200 – $811,643 annually.  The NCLA acknowledges the contributions of the transportation sector to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the need to reduce such emissions in its pre-hearing statement.  However, the NCLA argues the ETRP proposal and the SOV drive rate targets in particular, is not cost effective.

“The Commission substantially overstates the program’s emission reductions in its Economic Impact Analysis and fails to account for several costs that employers will incur,” the NCLA argues in its statement.  “The proposed ETRP rule, consequently, costs far more per ton of emissions reduced than other Commission regulations.”

The NCLA, jointly with the Business Alliance for Economically Sensible Regulation, provides policy arguments for removing the numeric SOV drive rate targets from the ETRP program. 

“The recent passage of Senate Bill 21-260 coupled with employers that are already expanding remote work opportunities in response to the market need will have a greater impact upon reducing GHG emissions than the harmful and overreaching provisions of the mandatory ETRP proposal,” said Ann Hutchison, President & CEO of the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce and formal party to the rule making representing the NCLA.

Additionally, in its statement, the NCLA is calling for a voluntary or incentive-based program that allows employers to take reasonable and customized actions to reduce SOV driving and is preferable to a mandatory program. This could include programs that involve employers providing free transit passes to all employees.

“A mandatory ETRP will have adverse effects on disproportionately impacted communities, many of which are in Weld and Larimer Counties”, said Sandra Hagen Solin, head of the NCLA and formal party on behalf BAERS.  “Combine that with the compounding burden of ETRP on female employees emerging from the She-Cession, the unique harm of the pandemic to women, and it begs the question why the state would propose such a program.”

Encouraging Businesses to Engage

The NCLA will continue to follow the proposed ETRP. Information on how businesses can engage and updates can be found here.  To submit written public comments, email tcdphe.aqcc-comments@state.co.us.

A public comment sign up option during the ETRP rulemaking hearing is scheduled for August 18.

The hearing will be held online only; there will be no in-person participation. Details related to participation and registration can be found at: https://cdphe.colorado.gov/aqcc

NOTE: The public comment session may end early if all commenters that are registered and in attendance before 6:30 have had an opportunity to speak prior to 7:30

About the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance (NCLA)

The NCLA is the joint public policy advocacy arm of the Fort Collins, Greeley and Loveland Chambers of Commerce, Upstate Colorado Economic Development Corporation and One NoCo.  The NCLA is the leading voice in northern Colorado influencing local, state and federal policy on issues affecting the unique business interests of northern Colorado.

NCLA’s mission is to unite and empower the members of the northern Colorado chambers of commerce, Upstate Colorado and OneNoCo with the means to generate a strong voice for positive impact on state and federal policy, regulations, and legislation that affect business’ ability to succeed and to help create a more positive business climate for the future of northern Colorado business. Visit ncla.biz.

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Employee Traffic Reduction Program (ETRP) Listening Session for Northern Colorado Employers


11:00 a.m.- 12:00 p.m.
Thursday, April 29, 2021
Online
Quick Link to Register

In response to legislation passed in 2019 which mandates reductions to Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG), the state’s Air Pollution Control Division, has proposed a mandatory program, Employee Traffic Reduction Program (ETRP), under which all employers with 100 or more workers must reduce the number of single-occupant vehicles on our roads. Proposed strategies include ridesharing, transit use, remote work, flex-scheduling and parking management. As currently proposed, employers would need to demonstrate at least 25% of their workforce participate in trip reduction methods by January 1, 2023. The rate accelerates to 40% by January 1, 2025.

This listening session has been set up for Northern Colorado employers to engage in conversation with the State and share thoughts on how this could effect your business

The Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance is tracking this issue and have assembled additional information and resources here.

When registering, please note participant information will be shared with the presenters.

Click Here to Register

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SB 21-176 – Protecting Opportunities and Worker’s Rights (POWR) Act

Legislation has been introduced to amend the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act to expand employer liability while removing established remedies.  The Chamber, along with NCLA, believes the proposed changes will adversely impact employer-employee relationships, create a more challenging work environment and raise the cost of doing business within the state.

Of greatest concern, HB 21-176 dictates the following:

  • The definition of a “hostile work environment” would be expanded to include employer liability should an employee, contractor, subcontractor or intern perceives any conduct that “offends, humiliates, distresses, or intrudes upon the individual or otherwise interferes with and undermines the individual’s personal sense of well-being or safety”, or “affects the individual’s ability to perform the individual’s job”.
  • The current legal standard of demonstrating “severe or pervasive” conditions will be repealed, as a single incident is sufficient to establish employer liability.
  • The nature of the work environment will no longer be considered, meaning a construction site would be treated the same as a coffee shop.
  • Employers could be held liable even when the employer or an individual’s supervisor is unaware of offensive behavior or remark made by another employee, contractor or customer.
  • As defined by the aggrieved individual, an employer is held liable if it fails to conduct a reasonable investigation of any perceived violation.
  • The Act would effectively eliminate the ability of the employer to enter into a binding confidentiality, non-disclosure or non-disparagement agreement with an aggrieved individual.
  • A judge would no longer be permitted to dismiss a case believed to lack merit.

A full analysis of the POWR Act can be found here.

You are encouraged to contact your State Representative and Senator to voice your concerns with the POWR Act. 

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Virtual Meet the Legislators Hosted by NCLA – April 9, 2021

Meet your northern Colorado legislators and leaders from around the area at a virtual event hosted by NCLA.

Do you ever wonder who is representing northern Colorado? Would you like an opportunity to meet them? Maybe you want to know more about what these legislators and leaders are up to. Or maybe you’re in the know and want a chance to catch up with these folks. Then this is the virtual event you’ve been looking for.

Register in advance here

Do you ever wonder who is representing northern Colorado? Would you like an opportunity to meet them? Maybe you want to know more about what these legislators and leaders are up to. Or maybe you’re in the know and want a chance to catch up with these folks. Then this is the virtual event you’ve been looking for.

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