(The Center Square) - Weld County commissioners say they are "extremely disappointed" in a new air quality rule from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The new rule expands the ozone nonattainment area boundary for the 2015 ozone standards to include all of Weld County. The EPA said the decision stemmed from a court case in July 2020 when a federal judge ruled that Weld County and El Paso County, Texas, were improperly excluded from the standards.
The EPA said in the rule that it considered "an extensive body of new scientific evidence, which substantially strengthens our knowledge regarding ozone-related health and welfare effects, the results of exposure and risk analyses, the advice of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee and consideration of public comments" before making its final determination.
The action will impact more than 100 oil and gas wells in the county by forcing them to adhere to higher federal ozone quality standards.
Prior to the new rule, the ozone standard boundary in Weld County ran through the middle of county along Road 100.
In July, Weld County commissioners submitted comments to the EPA about the proposed rule, which included technical analyses that the body argued "do not support the EPA's decision."
"In fact, the analysis indicates that the EPA did not consider relevant data that show northern Weld County does not contribute to ozone violations any more than other area outside the current nonattainment area," the commissioners said.
"The board is particularly troubled by the EPA's decision to not consider the most recent four years of available monitoring, weather data and modeling results in making its designation, data and modeling that do not support the EPA's proposed and final designation for Weld County," they continued.
The board added that it is still "evaluating its options" regarding the final rule.