Colorado loses EPA funding in Denver smog

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken the unprecedented step of cutting off all federal funds to Colorado. The reason for this Draconian measure is the state's failure to cope adequately with Denver's smog problem. Air pollution in the Mile High City is second only to that in Los Angeles and violates federal air-quality standards.

The lion's share of the pollutants hanging over Colorado's Front Range, an area that includes Denver, Fort Collins, and Colorado Springs, comes from the tailpipes of motor vehicles. The state does not have an automobile emissions inspection and control program.

Gov. Richard D. Lamm has expressed strong support for such a measure, but the Colorado Legislature has not acted, despite three deadline extensions by the EPA.The Legislature has conducted a dragged out and frequently acrimonious debate on this issue for well over a year.

Running out of patience, Roger Williams, the EPA's regional director, invoked the cutoff of federal funds when the Legislature failed to meet a final March 1 deadline. The cutoff will take effect March 14 unless the state sets up an inspection program before then. The action could cost Colorado as much as $300 million in federal assistance this year.

Ironically, recent polls indicate that most Coloradans favor an auto emissions control program.

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