PPACG is the lead air quality planning agency for the Pikes Peak region. This region corresponds to the transportation planning boundaries for the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set National Ambient Air Quality Standards for six principal pollutants:
- Carbon Monoxide
- Nitrogen Dioxide
- Particle Matter (PM2.5 and PM10)
- Sulfur Dioxide
PPACG works to ensure that the region stays in compliance (referred to as “attainment”) for these six pollutants by developing plans to improve air quality and monitoring compliance with state and federal regulations. PPACG reviews any legal or regulatory changes to evaluate potential impacts to the region.
Air Quality Monitoring
The region has five air quality monitoring stations: two for ozone, and one each for particulate matter, carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide. The region is in attainment for all six pollutants; the last violation was in 1989 for carbon monoxide. There are no monitoring stations for lead or nitrogen dioxide.
Pikes Peak Region Monitoring and Trends Report
The Air Quality in the Pikes Peak Region Monitoring and Trends Report 2008 provides an overview of the regional trends for the six criteria pollutants. An update to this report, Air Quality in the Pikes Peak Region Monitoring and Trends Report 2013 is being developed and will be available July 2013. This report will replace the existing 2008 Report.
Revised Carbon Monoxide Maintenance Plan
In the 1980s, the region did not comply with the carbon monoxide standard, and federal regulations required that a maintenance plan be developed to show how the region would come into compliance. PPACG developed this plan in 1999.
The second ten-year revision of the Carbon Monoxide Maintenance Plan was updated in 2009 to show continued attainment of the carbon monoxide standard in Colorado Springs through 2020, as required by federal law. This revision to the attainment/maintenance plan (considered a "limited maintenance plan"):
- revises the attainment year from 1990 to 2007,
- updates the base-year emission inventory using the latest EPA-approved tools (including the MOBILE 6.2 on-road mobile sources emission model), and
- extends the maintenance year through 2020.
The plan confirms that the CO standard will be maintained for a second ten-year period after the original redesignation in 1999.
Transportation conformity is demonstrated by showing that the transportation plans are consistent with the emission budget. The guidance for limited maintenance plans state that emissions budgets may be treated as essentially nonconstraining for transportation conformity because it is unreasonable to expect that such an area will experience so much growth during the maintenance period that a violation of the CO NAAQS would result. Therefore, the “budget test” of the transportation conformity rule is met, according to the guidance.
The plan was approved by the PPACG Board in September 2009, by the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission in December 2009, and by the EPA in March 2011.
Air Quality and Wildfire
Wildfires can affect air quality by emitting particles and gases (nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons) that can contribute to ozone production near the fire or downwind as a result of chemical reactions in sunlight. There has been little research to quantify the impacts, so it is difficult to know exactly how much ozone concentrations increase. No studies or analyses on ozone have been completed on the impact of wildfires on ozone levels.
In the fall of 2013, CDPHE will take a closer look and will likely be flagging some data as wildfire-influenced. CDPHE is also working on collaborating with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) to do some in-depth studies; that project will be completed in approximately two years. Please click here for more information on air quality impacts from the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest Fire.