Posted by: tommtn | November 25, 2013

Court of Appeals Affirms Dismissal of Mining Association Challenge to Colorado Clean Air Clean Jobs Act

A Colorado Court of Appeals, in a two to one decision, affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by the Colorado Mining Association (CMA) challenging the state Air Quality Control Commission’s (AQCC’s) adoption of Colorado’s Regional Haze plan. This plan was crafted to meet federal air quality requirements, and included critical strategies stemming from Colorado’s landmark Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act.

The Court affirmed that the CMA lawsuit challenging the AQCC decision was moot.  The General Assembly expressly approved the plan in 2011, in a bill known as HB 11-1291, which was signed into law by the Governor.  CMA failed to challenge that statute, so a court order declaring the AQCC’s procedures invalid would have no practical effect, and is moot.

Colorado’s Regional Haze plan, approved by the U.S. EPA in 2012, is a bipartisan clean air plan that includes a suite of cost-effective air pollution reductions. Emissions reductions from the plan will cut Denver’s “Brown Cloud,” curb summer smog across the Colorado Front Range, protect Rocky Mountain National Park and reduce dangerous carbon pollution. Colorado’s Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act demonstrates that smart, bipartisan state-driven solutions to our nations clean air challenges are durable and put Colorado on a solid path towards meeting upcoming air quality and climate challenges.  The approved SIP will reduce emissions by more than 70,000 tons per year by 2018, more than half of which arise from the Clean Air, Clean Jobs plan.  These reductions will generate more than $200 million per year in public health benefits[1].   These substantial environmental and public health benefits arise in large part from the retirement and replacement of the coal-fired power plants in the Denver-metro area.  In fact, several of the plants have already been retired, and work to construct the gas-fired units is well underway.

Tom Bloomfield of The Gallagher Law Group, represented a coalition of environmental and conservation organizations in a series of administrative hearings before the AQCC and the Public Utilities Commission, at the trial court and on this appeal. His clients include Western Resources Advocates, Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club, Environment Colorado and Conservation Colorado.

[1] In Re Colorado Regional Haze State Implementation Plan, CO Air Quality Control Comm’n, Env’l Coalition Rebuttal Statement, 1-2 (Dec. 27., 2010).

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