Grand Junction council backs state program for air quality
Grand Junction City Councilors are interested in taking some preventive measures to improve the local air quality. Councilors expressed support at their meeting Monday during a presentation by Lisa Clarke, with the Air Pollution Control Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Clarke is asking local government officials whether they want to participate in a five-year program backed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Measures to get a handle on the area’s air quality could be determined locally. An example includes making idle-free areas around area schools as parents wait for children to be released for the day.
Participation in a program could help the area’s standing if the Grand Valley’s air quality fell out of compliance, Clarke said. The Grand Valley is not directly at risk for falling out of compliance of the EPA’s air quality standards. However, Grand Junction broke a record of 41 no-burn days this winter as a nasty inversion settled in.
“You can take credit for the things you do now,” Clarke said about taking preventive measures. “It does not mean that you get out of non-attainment (status).”
Local governments have incentives to improve air quality, Clarke said. If an area falls out of EPA compliance for air standards, it can be denied federal dollars for highway funds. That money would have to be redirected to improve air quality.
Councilor Tom Kenyon said he was in support of working on ways to clean up the air. Kenyon said the falling out of compliance with the EPA can lead to draconian measures, so it would behoove the board to support taking small steps now toward that goal.
“In the meantime we don’t ever want to get to that point where Big Brother comes in and tell us how to run everything,” he said.