by William Oster, Colorado Newsline
The Colorado Air Pollution Control Division recently released a new online mapping tool that will allow members of the public to identify sources of air pollution across the state.
The new interactive map builds upon data collected by the division and published in October 2022. The map provides an alternative, visual aspect to access permits, exceedance reports, inspection reports and completed enforcement acts on air pollution for the entire state.
“Increasing transparency and access to air quality information is vital to building trust with local communities and people across Colorado,” Michael Ogletree, the director of the Air Pollution Control Division, said in a statement. “The online mapping tool is a major move forward for connecting people, especially frontline communities overburdened by air pollution, with information they want and need to stay informed.”
When accessing the interactive map, users will be able to click on various blue dots representing more than 550,000 records of air pollution, see the calculated values of pollution and climate burden in the area, and gauge how sites could impact health and social factors like outdoor activity. Users can also search by coordinates, addresses, identification numbers and facility names.
Colorado has attempted to crack down on air pollution for years, with concerns heightened last year after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reclassified the Front Range as a “severe” ozone violator last year. This reclassification forced state regulators to make major corrections to ozone pollution models and craft new policies in an attempt to decrease the pollutant.
“The Environmental Justice Action Task Force recommended many best practices for transparency to ensure that disproportionately impacted communities can access information about air quality where they live,” said Joel Minor, a state environmental justice program manager. “This new tool is a significant step towards breaking down barriers to finding information about air quality in Colorado’s communities that are most impacted by air pollution and other environmental challenges.”
Two public webinars will be held to provide more information on how to best use the interactive map, with the first meeting planned for May 2 at 6 p.m. and the second on June 8 at noon.
This story was written by William Oster, a reporting intern at Colorado Newsline, where this story first appeared.
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