Ensure air quality is improved and protected by reducing air pollution across Colorado

Why is this important to Colorado?

  • Clean air is critical to public health and the well-being of all Coloradans. Our fish and wildlife also depend upon our healthy natural environment.  Colorado implements multiple strategies designed to meet or exceed all applicable federal and state water and air quality standards.
  • Clean air and water are basic requirements of human health and well-being
  • Clean air and water are cherished by Coloradans and are central to the Colorado way of life
  • As Colorado’s population continues to grow, preserving air and water quality becomes increasingly important
  •  Poor air and water quality tends to affect disadvantaged communities disproportionately
  • Emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds contribute to ground level ozone. This harms human health. Ozone levels in the Denver metro area and North Front Range exceed federal standards
  • By reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, Colorado can do its part to help prevent climate change, which, if not mitigated, would have a detrimental impact on health, the environment, and key industries, including agriculture and recreation.


How do we measure success?

  • Cut annual nitrogen dioxide (NOx) emissions from certain coal-fired power plants nearly in half.
    • The Regional Haze plan caps NOx emissions from a number of power plants. Each unit has an individual deadline. The units with deadlines in or after 2015 are expected to reduce their total NOx emissions from 43,763 tons per year to 24,600 tons per year.
    • Power plants with NOx deadlines before 2015 cut their emissions almost 18,000 tons per year. Emission reductions achieved before June 2015 are not shown in the table.
  • Reduce annual volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions in the ozone nonattainment area from 187,000 to 158,950 tons per year (15%)
  • Reduce annual emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the electricity sector 25 percent by 2025 and 35 percent by 2030, as compared to 2012 levels.
    • Colorado’s power plants emitted 43,230,000 tons of CO2 in 2012. This must fall to 32,420,000 tons per year by 2025 and 28,100,000 tons per year by 2030.
    • The 2025 and 2030 targets replace an earlier goal of cutting CO2 from a few individual power plants from 4,280,000 tons per year to 1,250,000 tons per year. Those individual power plants are on track to fulfill the old goal in 2017. The new targets cover all power plants in Colorado and align with Governor Hickenlooper’s July 2017 Executive Order.    
  • Increase the market share of light duty electric vehicles to 2.3% by 2018. 
  • In 2013, there were .62% new light duty electric vehicles sold in Colorado. Electric vehicles have zero tailpipe emissions. Colorado can reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 37% compared to the typical gasoline light-duty car on the road today. Colorado’s strategy is to increase the number of electric vehicle charging stations including workplace charging. This will reduce Coloradans’ concerns about the driving distance from one station to another and increase the likelihood of alternative fuel vehicle purchases.  
Status Outcome Measure 2015 Outcome Baseline 2016 Actual 2017 Actual 2018 Actual 2018 Outcome Target
Improved.png Nitrogen dioxide emissions 43,763 tons 41,897 tons 33,500 tons TBD 24,600 tons
On Track.png Volatile organic compound emissions 187,000 tons 172,000 tons 127,500 tons TBD 158,950 tons

On Track.png

Carbon dioxide emissions 43,230,000 tons 39,860,000 tons 37,990,000 tons TBD 32,420,000 tons (by 2025)
On Track.png Market share of electric vehicles 0.62% (2011) 1.20% 2.0% TBD 2.30%

Source: Source: CDPHE, Energy Office

What actions are we taking?

  • Colorado continually strives to reduce air pollutant emissions in ways that ensure public health and environmental protections, while maintaining a vibrant economy.
  • The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is taking strides to improve air quality by reducing air pollutant emissions statewide. Colorado implements multiple strategies to comply with federal and state water and air quality standards to ensure that the health of Colorado’s people and environment are protected. We are working to achieve this goal through the following efforts:
    • CDPHE is ensuring compliance with Colorado’s Clean Air Clean Jobs Act (CACJA) and the Regional Haze State Implementation Plan (SIP).
    • Colorado has engaged with the Regional Air Quality Council on VOC reduction strategies and developed a SIP to submit to the EPA that demonstrates compliance with the federal ozone standard.
  • The Colorado Energy Office (CEO)  is delivering cost-effective energy services and advancing innovative energy solutions by increasing the number of publicly accessible alternative fueling stations; connecting public jurisdictions and schools to energy savings; increasing energy efficiency in new and existing homes through education on building codes and home energy rating tools; connecting commercial building owners to affordable, long-term financing for energy upgrades to their buildings; installing energy cost savings in low-income homes; and connecting agricultural producers to energy efficiency and renewable energy savings.
  • Governor Hickenlooper recently issued Executive Order D 2017-015 entitled “Supporting Colorado’s Clean Energy Transition.” This Executive Order sets concrete, measurable goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the State, and also directs actions that are important to reducing those emissions. The goals include:
    • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions statewide by more than 26% by 2025, as compared to 2005 levels;
    • Reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity sector by 25% by 2025 and 35% by 2030, as compared to 2012 levels; and
    • Achieving electricity savings of 2% of total electricity sales per year by 2020 through cost-effective energy efficiency.
  • On June 19, 2018, Colorado Governor Hickenlooper signed an Executive Order that directs the Air Pollution Control Division to develop a rule to establish a Colorado Low Emissions Vehicles (“LEV”) Program, which incorporates the requirements of the California LEV Program.  The Division proposed revisions to Regulation 20 to the Commission on August 16, 2018 and will hold a hearing in November 2018.  The Air Quality Control Commission will also consider a Zero Emissions Vehicles ("ZEV") mandate in a rulemaking proposal in March 2019.   The revisions will ensure continued greenhouse gas reductions from vehicles through motor year 2025 in support of the Climate Executive Order.  For more information, please see: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/Low_Emission_Vehicle_Standard   

Note: The electricity sector goals are incorporated into the dashboard metrics. The State does not currently have sufficient data to track progress towards the 26% statewide GHG emissions goal. The Executive Order directs CDPHE to undertake a rulemaking to track greenhouse gas emissions statewide. Once CDPHE has access to timely statewide GHG emissions updates, that data will be incorporated into the dashboard.