Colo

Colo. facilities under haze inquiry

 

By Associated Press

July 26, 2005

 

DENVER Sixteen Colorado facilities are on a preliminary list of power plants and factories that could have to add pollution controls to reduce haze drifting into national parks.

 

The state Department of Public Health and Environment is using computer models to identify possible links between plant emissions and the haze. If the facilities stay on the list, they would have eight years to add pollution controls ranging in cost from a few thousand dollars to more than $100 million.

 

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Haze has been a growing problem in the West since the late 1970s. On the haziest days, visibility at Rocky Mountain National Park is about 57 miles, or about half the distance it should be, according to National Park Service officials.

 

Pollution also is shortening the vistas at 11 other national parks and wilderness areas in the state, including Mesa Verde and the Great Sand Dunes.

 

"Protecting scenic vistas is really the benchmark of air quality," said Vickie Patton, a Boulder attorney for Environmental Defense.

 

"The pollution we see today not only threatens human health but really jeopardizes the quality of life we enjoy in the West," she said.

 

The health department plans to finish its list by November and will revise its comprehensive haze plan by next summer.

 

That plan will likely be submitted to the Legislature for approval in early 2007 and must be submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by that December.

 

Many of the companies on the preliminary list say it is unlikely they will be blamed for the problem because they have already spent millions of dollars on pollution controls or because their emission levels are so low.

 

"When you look at our numbers, we just don't think it's there," said Eric Hodek, environmental manager for the Cemex cement plant in Lyons. "But the state has surprised us before."

 

At least seven of the plants on the preliminary list have no pollution-control equipment for sulfur dioxide, according to state health department records.



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