Agreement aims to reduce millions of tons of air pollution

Mark Salley, Communications Director | 303-692-2013 |
DENVER – An agreement announced today will lead to annual reductions of millions of tons of air pollution, including pollutants that contribute to unhealthy ozone formation, emissions that can affect visibility in national and state parks and wilderness areas, and greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association and the owners of the Yampa Project* at Craig Station, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Parks Conservation Association and Wild Earth Guardians have reached the agreement. The agreement likely will result in the retirement of two coal-fired power units: Craig Unit 1 in Moffat County by Dec. 31, 2025, and the Nucla power plant in Montrose County by Dec. 31, 2022. The agreement is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 4 million tons per year, as well as decrease thousands of tons of other pollutants.
“This collaborative agreement is another step in our continuing efforts to ensure Colorado has the cleanest air in the nation,” said Dr. Larry Wolk, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “These emission reductions will help lower ozone levels that contribute to respiratory illnesses such as asthma. The reductions also will reduce haze and improve visibility in our national parks and wilderness areas.”
Despite the clean air benefits, the announcement will have an impact on local communities, particularly where the plants are located. “An evolving and diversifying energy mix provides opportunities and challenges for local communities,” Wolk said. “This agreement provides certainty and a reasonable timeline for communities that will be directly affected. Our partners in the administration will work with local communities as appropriate to invest in workers and jobs, stabilize the tax base and public services, and build a more resilient economic future.”
“Clean air and clean energy are nothing new to Coloradans,” said Will Allison, director of CDPHE’s Air Pollution Control Division.  “Colorado and other parts of our country already are experiencing some of the effects of a changing climate. Reducing carbon dioxide and other emissions, along with our previous and ongoing efforts to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas, are important strategies in our efforts to ensure clean air.”
The state’s Air Quality Control Commission will be asked at its Sept. 15 meeting to schedule the matter for a hearing at its Dec. 15 meeting.
* The Yampa Project consists of Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc., Public Service Company of Colorado (d/b/a Xcel Energy), Platte River Power Authority, Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District, and Pacificorp. Craig Unit 1 is owned by the Yampa Participants and operated by Tri-State. Nucla Station is owned and operated by Tri-State.