Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 2, 2018

Contact:  Robert Ukeiley, Center for Biological Diversity, (720) 496-8568,
Brian Willis, Sierra Club, (202) 675-2386,

Lawsuit Targets Trump EPA's 'Free Pass' for Colorado Oil, Gas Operations in Smog-reduction Effort

BOULDER, Colo. — Boulder County and three conservation groups sued the Trump administration today for illegally excluding oil and gas operations in parts of Colorado from a federal project to protect people from smog.

Omitting northern Weld County from the smog clean-up area allows companies operating thousands of oil and gas wells to avoid reducing pollution, even though that pollution is known to be a major cause of the region’s chronic smog violations.

The targeted clean-up area, which includes Metro-Denver and the Front Range, has already recorded more than 100 violations this year of standards for smog, also known as ground level ozone.

“The Trump administration knows how dangerous smog is, especially to kids and the elderly, but is going out of its way to make sure oil and gas companies in Colorado can keep on polluting,” said Robert Ukeiley, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.

The Environmental Protection Agency previously determined that Wyoming significantly contributes to the Front Range smog problem. But the agency subsequently decided to exclude northern Weld County from the smog clean-up area even though it is closer to the area than Wyoming and releases more smog-forming pollution than any of the other counties in the targeted region. 

Today’s lawsuit against the EPA was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit by the Boulder County Board of Commissioners, the Center for Biological Diversity and National Parks Conservation Association. Sierra Club is filing a separate challenge that will cover the same issue.

“Once again, the Trump Administration is trying to give a free pass to polluters - this time, it’s the fossil fuel industry that’s threatening the health of families in the Northern Front Range of Colorado. This is another clear example of the Trump Administration siding with billionaire polluter interests over the health and well-being of working families and vulnerable communities,” said Will Walters, chair of the Colorado chapter of the Sierra Club. “Every American has the right to clean air, but this administration is doing everything it can to try and strip them of it. We will fight on every front to protect every family and every child from this assault on clean air.”

The Clean Air Act sets science-based national ambient air quality standards that are designed to protect public health and the environment. All areas that violate air quality standards for smog and contribute to those violations must be included in the smog clean-up area.

The current ozone nonattainment area where smog must be cleaned up under the Clean Air Act stretches along the Front Range from Castle Rock in the South to Fort Collins and Greeley in the north and west into Rocky Mountain National Park.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The National Parks Conservation Association is a nonprofit organization with its headquarters in Washington, D.C. Since its founding in 1919, NPCA has been the independent, nonpartisan voice working to strengthen and protect America’s national parks. With 1.3 million members and 27 office locations nationwide, NPCA works to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for present and future generations.

The Sierra Club is a grassroots environmental organization with more than 3 million members and supporters working to safeguard the health of communities, protect wildlife, and preserve wild places through public education, lobbying, and litigation.

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