EPA approves Colorado plan to reduce pollution


DENVER | The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given final approval to Colorado’s strategy to reduce pollution, which relies on switching some coal-fired power plants to natural gas.

Gov. John Hickenlooper announced the decision on the regional haze plan Tuesday, praising it as a collaborative effort by utilities, environmentalists, the oil and gas industry and others.

In 2010 Colorado passed a law pushing the state’s two investor owned utilities, Xcel Energy and Black Hills Corp., to switch some units to natural gas.

The plan aims to reduce pollutants by 70,000 tons a year at 16 facilities across Colorado, including power plants and cement kilns. That includes includes 35,000 tons of nitrogen oxides, which cause smog.

States had to submit plans to improve visibility in national parks and wilderness areas under the 1977 Clean Air Act.