Developing air quality programs for metropolitan Denver

Material Information

Developing air quality programs for metropolitan Denver strategies of attainment, intrusiveness and voluntarism
DeLapp, Robert Andrew
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
vii, 159 leaves : ; 28 cm

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Master's ( Master of arts)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
Department of Political Science, CU Denver
Degree Disciplines:
Political science


Subjects / Keywords:
Air quality management -- Colorado -- Denver Metropolitan Area ( lcsh )
Air quality management ( fast )
Colorado -- Denver Metropolitan Area ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references.
General Note:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Master of Arts, Department of Political Science.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Robert Andrew DeLapp.

Record Information

Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
21104475 ( OCLC )
LD1190.L64 1989m .D44 ( lcc )

Full Text
Robert Andrew DeLapp
B.A., Lawrence College, 1958
A thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of the
University of Colorado at Denver in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
Department of Political Science

This thesis for the Master of Arts degree by
Robert Andrew DeLapp
has been approved for the
Department of
Political Science

DeLapp, Robert Andrew (M.A., Political Science)
Developing Air Quality Programs for Metropolitan Denver:
Strategies of Attainment, Intrusiveness and Voluntarism
Thesis directed by Assistant Professor Glenn T. Morris
This paper reviews existing and proposed
programs for improving air quality in the Denver
Metropolitan Area. It describes the difficulty that the
community has with air pollution, and its continuing
violations of the standards for air quality mandated by
the federal Clean Air Act. In addition to reviewing the
physical and legal aspects of the problem, the
presentation attempts to develop an appreciation for the
important political, economic, and social dimensions of
the various issues related to healthy air and
The array of state and local agencies
established to deal with air quality issues and
administer monitoring and compliance programs is
discussed. Although each has an important part to play
in the whole process of politics and government, it
seems that the Colorado Department of Health and its Air
Pollution Control Division are at the center of most of
the activity related to the problem of Denvers air.
Strategies for cleaner and healthier air which
try to avoid intrusions into popular lifestyles and rely

on voluntary participation, such as the annual Better
Air Campaign, are found to be useful educational efforts
but rather ineffective in reducing polluting behaviors.
Other relatively nonintrusive approaches, such as the
oxygenated fuels program, which do not allow much
choice, turn out to be effective but not very popular.
Mandatory and intrusive woodburning bans and
annual motor vehicle emissions standards and inspections
have been a matter of considerable controversy in recent
years. Although it often difficult to enact and enforce
many restrictions, tougher laws do provide important
support to the development of greater voluntary
comp1i ance.
It is suggested that more attention be given to
encouraging voluntary changes in lifestyles for the
purpose of reducing air pollution. This approach would
include strategies of public transportation, community
planning, and citizen education. Much could be done to
reduce public dependence on the automobile, developing
more opportunities for walking, cycling, and working or
playing in less-polluting ways.
The form and content of this abstract are approved,
recommend its publication.
Faculty member in charge of thesis


I. INTRODUCTION................................... 1
Carbon Monoxide and the Standards.......... 12
Ozone Damage and Small Particulates........ 19
Violations and Nonattainment................. 25
Fixing Federal and State Responsibility... 32
Back to State and Local Control Programs.. 38
State Agencies and Local Authorities....... 46
Different Levels and Forms in Approaches.. 51
The Better Air Campaign...................... 59
Inadequacy of Voluntary Compliance........... 65
Nonintrusiveness and Oxygenated Fuels...... 70
The Intrusiveness of Various Approaches... 80
Woodburning Bans and Standards............... 86
Laws Against Smoking Vehicles................ 92
Annual Inspections of Vehicle Emissions... 97
Program Compliance and Enforcement.......... 102

VI 1
Cost-Effectiveness of Various Strategies.. 113
Program Perspectives and Politics........... 119
Battle Plans, Programs, and Proposals...... 127
Proposals for Providing More Alternatives. 133
Reinventing the "Wheel" and Shanks Mare" 138
VI. CONCLUSION.................................... 145

This paper is concerned with the political
problem of developing programs for the mitigation and
control of air pollution in the metropolitan area of
Denver, Colorado. Particular attention is given to the
dimensions of lifestyle intrusions and governmental
enforcement versus nonintrusive measures and voluntary
compliance in securing improvements in air quality. The
thrust of the story is that technology and persuasion
have not done enough to clear the air, and more
consideration needs to be given to stricter limits on
the sources, activities, and behaviors that cause air
pollution. On the positive side, there are
opportunities for the creation of alternatives to the
situations and activities which tend to maintain people
in their polluting lifestyles.
Some very important economic interests and
individual values are involved in the kinds of
activities which tend to produce air pollution. And
some equally important community concerns and
governmental responsibilities are involved in
controlling the sources and protecting public health.

There is disagreement regarding the seriousness of the
hazard and the best way of approaching abatement. But
there is no question about Colorados having one of the
more serious air pollution problems in the nation.
The worst case is centered around Denver, during
the winter, but it may occur any time throughout the
year and extends to the suburbs and even to other local
areas of the state. There are places in Colorado where
clean air and visibility are as good as can be found
anywhere in the world. There are times in Denver when
the mountains to the west seem so close that you feel
you could just reach out and touch them. But an urban
haze problem has developed in many Colorado cities. In
Denver it is known, all too familiarly but not so
affectionately, as the "Brown Cloud."
This ugly conglomeration of chemicals and
particulates assaults the lungs, the eyes, and the
sensibilities of the Inhabitants of a city once known as
a site for tuberculosis sanitariums. Recent public
programs have concentrated on bringing down the high
levels of carbon monoxide and ozone in the air. Some
have also shown concern for the sulfur dioxide and
oxides of nitrogen which occur in lesser but still
significant amounts. Others have begun to deal with
sources of soot and dust.
The focus of attention seems now to be shifting

to the "brown cloud" itself as the primary target in the
development of strategies for improvements in air
quality. There is more emphasis on economic issues and
aesthetics. If the clear air and scenic view are no
longer as attractive to tourists, perhaps more should be
done to reduce pollution. And, if companies move away
or fail to locate here because of the dirty air, it
would make sense to do a lot more. But, if measures
that are taken to clean things up turn out to be so
costly and oppressive that they drive away business,
then tougher controls would not really make economic
It would not make political sense to irritate
the general population of voters, householders, and
motorists by imposing restrictions on their freedom
without establishing some fairly direct connection to
their health and welfare. Otherwise, the level of
public cooperation would be so low that even the
strictest enforcement system would have trouble securing
compliance and reducing pollution. Further restrictions
and disharmony in the community could also have negative
economic effects, costing lost business, lost jobs, and
greater government involvement.
It is often said that Denver has a serious
pollution problem because of the special characteristics
of its geographical location and meteorological

conditions. Low-level temperature inversions in winter
trap smoke and exhaust close to the ground in the
shallow valley between the mountains to the west and the
ridges to the south and east. But the geography and the
meteorology have to be regarded as constants, or givens.
The pollutants are the variables, and dependent ones at
that, subject to control through deliberate changes in
the independent variable of human activities causing the
The system of human decisions and behaviors
producing harmful atmospheric pollution is highly
decentralized. The lack of central authority over so
many important kinds of activity may be attributed to
the sort of free, competitive, and independent society
which has evolved in the United States. This evolution
has been fostered in many ways by special interests
which have often discouraged community developments such
as public transportation, encouraged individualistic
attitudes such as automobile ownership, and thereby
created a better market for their own products and
The general lack of structure based on community
values such as clean air makes it difficult to establish
the authority of government in this realm. There are
millions of motor vehicles and home heating units,
thousands of factories and power plants, and hundreds of

large industrial and municipal sources. Every motorist
and householder and industrialist is free to do as he or
she pleases in the pursuit of self-interest, so long as
there is no provable harm to others or a law against it.
Without an expectation of adverse legal action of some
sort, no individual, firm, agency, or group really feels
a direct responsibility for the collective consequence
of atmospheric pollution.
Each polluting actor tends to shrug off the
pollution problem as some sort of an externality to his
own particular position, point of view, and regime. It
is the classic "tragedy of the commons." So long as
there is no incentive to limit the pursuit of self-
interest, the common or general interest will suffer.
The amount of suffering will be tolerably slight so long
as the levels of usage remain relatively low, and the
resource is fairly extensive. But, if expansion in
usage goes on to the point where more and more
participants begin to suffer significant discomfort,
pain, costs, or other negative effects, a new sort of
regime must be instituted.
The atmosphere is much like many other renewable
resources which have heretofore been able to sustain all
the uses made of them. Many animal and water stocks,
grazing lands, and even forests were able for a time to
regenerate and permit fairly high levels of

exploitation. But, with vastly increased use, the
natural limits of resilience are now often exceeded, and
the rationale for allowing free access and unlimited use
is lost when the existence of the resource itself is
threatened. So some agency has to be developed to
control access and use.
Unlike many other natural resources, however,
the atmosphere is not easily convertible into a
privately owned entity, or even a public preserve. So
it becomes the subject of various forms of government
involvement, jurisdiction, and enforcement. Navigation
by aircraft is now so great that it is controlled by a
complicated system of national agencies. Actual
consumption of air by extraction of atmospheric
components still takes so little as to be considered
negligible, and is not restricted. But those activities
and combustion processes that take out large amounts of
oxygen and put back all kinds of less desirable
chemicals into the air are now another story.
Much of the work in this area is highly
technical, involving heavy doses of atmospheric physics
and chemistry, large collections of meteorological data,
and a research focus so narrow in its specialization as
to confound nearly anyone who is concerned with broader
questions of public policy. But scientists and
engineers are involved in government and in the

political process; so some of the difficulties of
interpretation and leadership are eased in actual
practice. It would be even better if improvements were
made in communications among scientists, policy-makers,
and the public.
Nevertheless, enormous obstacles interfere with
seeing the big picture and dealing with the larger
issues in a way that will serve to put the smaller
issues in perspective. Mechanics adjust carburetors and
ignition timing, but no one really works on reducing the
total amount of driving that goes on in the community.
Legislators argue over expanding voluntary bans on
woodburning, but refuse to accept limits on future
growth and urban sprawl. Planners envision and design a
new airport to the east and a complete beltway around
the city, but the focus is on more jobs, not more
traffic and pollution.
A concerted effort has been made to secure
reductions in polluting behavior through voluntary
compliance based on education, persuasion, and
exhortation. Yet the habits which are supposed to be
changed run so deep that they can be altered only by
direct intervention and reinforcement of new lifestyles.
But no incentive serves to confront and require people
to change so long as there seem to be nonintrusive,
technological adjustments which can still be made.

Many polls have shown that the public is as
concerned about air pollution as it is about crime. The
public has even expressed willingness to pay more for
improvements in the situation. But the generalized
expressions somehow get filtered through a set of
particular interests before they find their way into
personal behavior or public legislation. The community
interest in control is still too vague to be applied
readily to areas still reserved to individual freedom.
This whole matter represents an example of a
political science problem with much broader significance
than just a case of public health and regulation in a
particular metropolitan area. It resembles many other
practical regulatory activities of government, and
therefore fits in to a more general field of public
policy studies. But air pollution and control issues
display enough of a separate identity apart from other
matters of public concern to be dealt with largely in
their own terms.
Chapter II establishes the political context
more fully by reviewing the national standards for air
quality, which Denver has failed to attain.
Understanding the situation with respect to the
standards should provide a basis for evaluating state
agencies and strategies for achieving attainment. It
should also convey a sense of the special interests and

perspectives that tend to get involved in the
development of strategies.
Chapter III reviews the system of state and
local agencies involved in the process of air-quality
legislation, administration, and education. It takes
special note of the extent to which the Colorado program
is based on the assumptions of voluntary and
nonintrusive approaches, especially evident in the
Better Air Campaign. An evaluation of its successes and
failures can then serve as an introduction to some of
the alternatives.
Chapter IV considers the more deliberately
intrusive forms of regulation and enforcement, such as
restricting residential woodburning and requiring annual
vehicle inspections to maintain emissions standards. It
is important to look at not only the effectiveness of
these programs, but also the costs of compliance,
economic and political. Sorting out the various
proposals and the interests involved is a complicated
process for government.
Chapter V discusses the possibility of making
changes in popular lifestyles which people might come to
accept willingly. Combining the idea of voluntary
compliance with the notion of intrusive strategies may
seem at first to be a totally impractical intellectual
exercise. But these may be the only directions for

finding solutions to the problem. The idea is to
stimulate thinking about developing the opportunities
for less-polluting lifestyles.
This treatment of the subject should provide a
better understanding of the air pollution problem and
the challenge it offers for those who are involved in
the development of public issues and policy. A study of
this sort does not necessarily promise to simplify the
task for government or further research. It may only
complicate matters. But it is hoped that this paper
will provide a useful overview of the present situation,
the important interests involved, and some of the
alternatives for further exploration.

There exists some controversy and confusion
about the current quality of ambient air in Denver. It
was recently noted that the city had dropped from the
worst to seventh worst among the nations most polluted
cities.1 Some might take pride in such a fall, but it
tends to ignore the fact that Denver remains in
violation of National Ambient Air Quality Standards
(NAAQS) under the Clean Air Act of the United States.2
Violations mean that the community continues to have a
problem not only with pollution, but also with the
possible penalties that accompany non-compliance with
federal law.
This chapter reviews some of the issues
surrounding the NAAQS and Denvers violations of the
Clean Air Act. It will be seen that the once forceful
drive for environmental improvement has lost substantial
momentum in its encounter with economic and political
opposition during the past decade. It is also apparent
that there is still a need to address the problem,
although it has become much more complicated.
Understanding the standards for evaluating ambient air

quality, and determining nonattainment of the NAAQS,
should provide a basis for further consideration of
approaches to pollution control.
A new awareness of environmental
responsibilities overtook many public groups and
governmental agencies in the late '00s and early 70s.
Some consider it to have amounted to an "unplanned
revolution," arising in large measure out of the
development of an American counterculture.8 There was
much philosophical debate, political activism, and, in
terms of practical programs, much new air quality
legislation at the federal, state, and local levels.
New controls were established over many sources of
pollution, and significant improvements were made.
Nevertheless, when the revised deadline for attaining
the NAAQS was reached on December 31, 1987, there were
still 88 control regions in violation for carbon
monoxide and 78 in violation for ozone, and Denver was
included in both lists.4
Carbon Monoxide and the Standards
Carbon Monoxide (CO), Ozone (Os, and Total
Suspended Particulates (TSP), especially inhalable
particulates (PM10) are currently of most concern in the
state of Colorado. Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Sulfur
Dioxide (SO2), Lead (Pb), Sulfates (SO4), Nitrates

(NOa), and Nitric Oxide (NO) are also monitored.5 So
too is acid deposition, a complex process, involving
mainly sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen which are
transformed in the atmosphere into sulfates and
nitrates, and then fall back to earth as acid rain,
snow, or fog, or even as dry particles.
Denvers most frequent offense has been its
violation of the National Ambient Air Quality Standard
(NAAQS) for carbon monoxide, an invisible, odorless gas,
which is a poisonous product of poor combustion. Carbon
monoxide results when there is not enough oxygen for
efficient burning, a common occurence in the mile-high
city, especially with automobiles during the colder
months of the year. Wintertime temperature inversions
can trap carbon monoxide near the surface in the bowl-
shaped valley of the South Platte, allowing
concentrations of carbon monoxide to reach unhealthy and
even dangerous levels.
Denver was in violation of the NAAQS for carbon
monoxide on eleven different days in 1988. Eight of
these violation-days were observed at CAMP (21st and
Broadway), which is the nearest to downtown Denver of
the eight monitoring sites in the metropolitan area.
The Carriage (23rd and Julian) monitoring site recorded
seven violation-days, four on the same days as CAMP,
plus three on its own. There were two days on which

violations were observed at National Jewish Hospital
(East Colfax and Colorado Boulevard) and one at Welby
(78th and Steele) which were also experienced at CAMP.
The other four monitoring sites at Highland (South
University and County Line Road), Arvada (57th and
Garrison), Englewood (3300 South Huron), and Boulder
(2320 Marine Street) recorded no violations for carbon
monoxide in 1988.
The number of carbon monoxide violations in 1988
represents a significant improvement from 1972, when 125
violation-days were recorded just at the CAMP site.
Nevertheless, Denver still does not meet the national
standard. In addition, there is some concern that the
trend toward eventual attainment may be "bottoming-out,"
as programs for reducing vehicle emissions and
controlling other sources have reached their maximum
effectiveness. Now, in view of prospects for continuing
growth in and around Denver, violations may again
increase in frequency and severity.
The Clean Air Act of 1970, and the amendments to
it in 1977, established the regulatory program for air
quality and pollution control 1n the United States. It
defined the powers and duties of federal and state
agencies in governing sources of air pollution for the
purpose of achieving the goal of clean and healthy air.
The states were given primary responsibility for

implementing the program within federal guidelines,
based on local needs and conditions.7 Enforcement was
to be shared by various state and federal authorities,
with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
defining special air quality regions for monitoring
compliance with national standards.8
The EPA was directed to determine the maximum
permissible ambient air concentrations for pollutants
which were found harmful to human health or to the
environment.9 The agency was then to set two types of
"national ambient air quality standards" (NAAQSs),
without considering the cost of compliance. There were
to be "primary standards," for protecting human health,
with a margin of safety for vulnerable groups such as
infants and the elderly, and "secondary standards," for
maintaining visibility and protecting water, crops, and
bui1 dings.
No deadline was set for attaining secondary
NAAQSs, but primary NAAQSs were to be attained in all
control regions by 1982.10 This deadline was later
extended to 1987, and linked to states implementing
particular control strategies for nonattainment areas,
such as annual vehicle inspections and catalytic
converters on newer automobiles. Although that
"deadline was missed nearly a year and a half ago, no
new attainment schedule has been mandated by Congress,

and no penalties have been imposed by the EPA. This
apparent halt in the air quality movement at the
national level will be discussed further later in this
The primary and secondary NAAQSs for carbon
monoxide are presently set at the same level. However,
two different levels of exposure are defined, based on
concentrations averaged over two different periods of
time. Over an eight-hour period, carbon monoxide 1s not
to exceed 9 parts per million (ppm), which is also 10
milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m3).11 But, over a one-
hour period, it may not exceed 35 ppm (40 mg/m3).
Neither standard may be exceeded more than once per
year, or the airshed is in violation.
It is not uncommon to encounter concentrations
perhaps 10 or 20 times greater than this for short
periods of an hour or so, such as in heavy traffic.
This exposure may result in no more harm than headaches
and nausea, although a prolonged, heavy dosage of carbon
monoxide can be fatal. Most scientists do not believe
that there is any significant long-term cumulative
damage resulting from prolonged exposure to low levels
of carbon monoxide.12 However, there is evidence of
important short-term physiological responses to
intermediate doses, such as blurred vision and changes
in the ability to judge time-intervals.

The problem for the EPA in determining the
standard for carbon monoxide, as well as for other
substances, was that there is no precise cut-off point,
or threshold-dosage, below which there is strong
assurance of no harmful effects from exposure. EPA
could strive for total elimination of carbon monoxide
from all airsheds, defining an objective of absolutely
clean and safe air. In the cases of some insecticides
and herbicides, or heavy metals like mercury and lead,
strong arguments can be made for reducing contamination
of the environment, water, and the food-chain to zero,
or nearly zero. Strict prohibitions and costly
mitigation measures can be justified where there is
convincing evidence of serious danger.
Setting an environmental standard generally
amounts to a determination of an acceptable level of
risk, and decisions of this kind involve more than just
questions of scientific fact. They involve economic
interests, philosophical values, and political issues.
More than straight-forward "administration" of the
Congressional "will" expressed in the Clean Air Act has
to be accomplished within and through the bureaucratic
structure of the EPA. It is therefore no surprise to
find political considerations and administrative
discretion at various stages in the process of
determining the NAAQSs, and in subsequently enforcing

The Clean Air Act provides for special hearings
and panels, input from various scientists, industrial
representatives, and interest groups, and continuing
oversight of EPA activities by Congress and the Press.
Important decisions by the Administrator are subject to
numerous contraints, designed to incorporate as much
collective wisdom and as little individual caprice as
possible. The politics involved in determining the
NAAQSs have been addressed more fully by several
writers.14 Rosenbaums earlier work is especially
It has been suggested that the deliberations
leading to the setting of the standard for carbon
monoxide were strongly influenced by a study of angina
sufferers. It was found that they felt discomfort with
concentrations of 18 parts per million (ppm), or 20
milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m3), and the eight-hour
standard was eventually set at half that level.15
Perhaps it could be higher or lower, and should be
changed. However, any decisions regarding readjustments
in the NAAQSs for carbon monoxide will involve some
serious discussion of relative values, regarding what
and who are really important.

Ozone Damage and Small Particulates
EPA set the standard for ozone at .12 ppm,
averaged over an hour-long period, after studies showed
healthy men, aged 18 to 35, exercising in a controlled
environment for two hours, began to experience breathing
difficulty when exposed to .15ppm.16 This basis does
not seem as conservative as the one used for carbon
monoxide. The test-subjects were in better shape, and
the reaction-level was not cut in half to define the
standard. Proposals have been made to set the ozone
standard at a lower level, based on recent research
demonstrating a greater threat than previous studies had
It was known that ozone irritates mucous
membranes, causing coughing, choking, and impaired lung-
function. Now ozone is known to cause short-term
breathing difficulties In even smaller amounts than
previously thought. Long-term exposure can result in
lung damage similar to the effects of cigarette smoking.
In addition, ozone has been found to reduce grain crop
yields by as much as 30% of potential at levels below
the present standard.18 EPA estimates the annual crop
loss from the effects of ozone at $2.5 to $3 billion in
the United States. Ozone damages not only many other
living plants, but products made from rubber, nylon, and

other synthetics.
Ozone is produced in the atmosphere by the
reaction of hydrocarbons with nitrogen oxides in the
presence of strong sunlight. Nitrogen oxides are
emitted by all types of combustion, but especially in
the higher, sustained temperatures of motor vehicle
engines and electrical generating plants. Hydrocarbons
are organic vapors emitted in vehicle exhaust,
especially if the ignition system is not working
correctly. They also evaporate from fuel-flooded
carburetors, uncapped fuel tanks, oil and gas spills, as
well as from all sorts of volatile solvents, cleaners,
and other common chemical products. The chemical and
sunlight requirements tend to make ozone a summertime
phenomenon, unlike carbon monoxide which is mainly a
problem in winter.
Since it takes a while for the necessary
atmospheric mixing and chemical reactions to occur,
concentrations of ozone tend to be greatest downwind
from large, polluted cities. Whereas downtown Denver
has usually had the worst carbon monoxide readings over
the years, the suburbs have been more likely to observe
high concentrations of ozone. The metropolitan area
experienced two "exceedances" of the national ozone
standard in 1988, one at Highland and one at the Arvada
monitoring site, both in the month of June.19 The

number of days with "exceedances," averaged over a
three-year period, may not be more than one per year.
There were 14 such days in 1983, but 3 to & per year are
more typical of the past decade.20
Denver is fortunate that it has so far been
spared from the fate of smog-bound Los Angeles, which
exceeded the NAAQS for ozone on 176 days in 1988.21
Smog is not as severe in Colorado as it is in Southern
California, partly because of differences in the amounts
of the necessary ingredients. Los Angeles is much
bigger and better at producing the primary pollutants.
It also suffers the misfortune of having a rather
extensive, persistent, low-level inversion which
prevents the escape of both primary and secondary
particles, causing very hazardous concentrations of
pollution. Denver and the Front Range enjoy much better
atmospheric ventilation during the summer months than
Southern California does. Even so, Colorado still
continues to violate the national standard for ozone.
Colorado also has a serious problem with
particulates, not only total suspended particles (TSP),
but also those very small particles, less than 10
microns in diameter (PM10), that are easily inhaled, and
can become imbedded deep in the lungs. The primary
health standard for TSP was set at an annual geometric
mean of 75 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3), with a

lower secondary standard of 60 ug/m3 as a guideline, not
a definitive limit.22 To take into account daily
variations in TSP, and higher tolerances during shorter
exposures, the primary standard also includes a limit of
260 ug/m3 as a twenty-four hour average, with a
secondary standard of 150 ug/m3.
The Colorado Department of Health (CDH) operates
approximately 60 particulate samplers at various sites
throughout the state, changing their location on the
basis of anticipated problems meeting the standards.
About half of the sites have recently begun to collect
PMio data, but the TSP observations are more complete
and provide a better overview. Thirteen Colorado
monitoring sites, in small mountain towns and out on the
high plains as well as in the big city, recorded
violations of primary NAAQS for TSP during 1986.
TSP is not just fugitive dust and sandstorms in
wind-blown areas of a semi-arid state. The annual
geometric average at CAMP in downtown Denver during 1986
was 118 ug/m3, second only to an average of 124 at the
Steamboat monitoring site.23 CAMP recorded a second
twenty-four maximum of 374 ug/m3 (the first day over 260
is not counted as a violation). Only Telluride with 422
and Lamar with 407 recorded higher second twenty-four
hour maximums than the city of Denver. Particulates are
definitely part of the urban air pollution problem, and

EPA and CDH projections show a strong shift toward the
automobile as the major source of particulates.
One of the progress reports in the 1987-88 study
of Denvers brown cloud cited a diary entry by an early
observer in the year 1872, who saw "____ a great
sandstorm, which in a few minutes covered the city,
blotting it out of sight with a dense brown cloud."24
Carol E. Lyons, Project Manager of Scenic Denver (the
general title covering the brown cloud study) also made
pointed reference to the 100 year-old age of the problem
in a brief telephone conversation. It is not altogether
clear what difference it makes whether the problem is
old or new, if it is a problem that needs to be solved,
although it may be somewhat easier to solve if it is
viewed as man-made, not natural.
It would seem to be a diversionary tactic to
suggest that the "1987-88 brown cloud" is the same as
the "1872 brown cloud." Now that there is more
vegetation, as well as buildings and pavement on the
landscape, the wind should not be picking up as much
dust as it once did. But the stuff that it does pick up
now is undoubtedly much more dangerous than the natural
sand and soil of the high plains. Even the grit spread
on icy winter streets has now become a significant part
of the airborne hazard, and said to account for about 5%
of the brown cloud.

Particulate pollution is the leading cause of
sinus disease in Colorado. Sinus disease, affecting
about 300,000 Coloradans and 31 million nationwide, is
the "Number One" chronic disease in America.25 Dr. Rob
Ivker, a Jefferson County General Practitioner who just
wrote a book called Sinus Survival. says that "when
people realize this brown cloud just doesnt look bad to
you, but is bad for you, then I think theyll be more
willing to make the sacrifices necessary to clean up
this air pollution." But, he noted, "just looking bad
isnt enough to prod a lot of people into action."26
Dr. Michael Schonbrun, President of National
Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine
located in Denver, says that people do become attentive
when he points out the health implications in his work
as Chairman of the Metropolitan Air Quality Council.
"It isnt just because for 20 days a year the brown
cloud is very ugly and we cant see the mountains.
Their worry is if they cant see the mountains, what is
that doing to their childs lungs." But he would like to
see a "great deal more" research on health impacts
before asking for stiffer standards and further
Schonbrun suggests several studies which would
examine the special effects of pollution on hearts and
lungs already burdened by the reduction in air pressure

at Denvers mile-high elevation above sea level. He
also suggests a comparative survey of local hospital
emergency rooms, relating admissions to high and low
pollution levels. Considering the possibility of many
less dramatic but more insidious health impacts, it
might be useful to have a look at visits to general
practioners too, and perhaps at their prescriptions, and
even at over-the-counter sales of relevant medications.
Sometimes all of this concern with laboratory-
style precision seems to be rather unnecessary. Some of
the dangers seem obvious even to the general public,
requiring little or no scientific training or elaborate
research and statistics. But many people, including
some lawmakers, can be led in the wrong direction by
various members of the scientific community. Experts
can have a personal or professional agenda of their own.
They can even make mistakes. When the truth does become
known, it can undermine public confidence and compliance
with the erroneously established rules. Maintaining the
legitimacy of a program depends on the continuing
credibility of the science on which it is based.
Violations and Nonattainment
Predictions of eventual attainment of the NAAQS
in the near future really depend on the factors
considered responsible for the recent declines in high

readings. If fewer violations are the result of less
driving and cleaner vehicles, along with reductions in
woodburning and industrial emissions, then the city
should be confident that the problem will soon be
solved. But if the improvement results mainly from
shifts in major centers of traffic and congestion, away
from CAMP at 21st and Broadway, down closer to Speer
Boulevard and the Valley Highway, or off to the Denver
Tech Center bottleneck near the I-25/I-225 interchange,
then there may not be as much real and lasting
improvement as it seems.
The determination of violations and trends is
obviously sensitive to where the pollution monitors are
placed. State Senator Steve Durham, who was the
regional administrator for the EPA for a short time
early in the Reagan Administration, recently charged the
Colorado Department of Health (CDH) with putting its
instruments in the worst possible place, resulting in
high readings and damage to the states image.29 He
joked about how they tried to put these monitors inside
the tailpipe of a car, but they wouldnt fit." But CDH
says that it is following strict federal guidelines in
placing the monitors.
Brad Beckham, director of the Air Pollution
Control Division (APCD) of CDH, says that "in a city
like Denver, the guidelines say that one ought to be in

an area where there will be maximum traffic influence on
the monitor."30 Otherwise some might put them out in
the middle of empty fields. It might be suggested that
a varied sampling, taken perhaps by a moving set of
sensors, making a typical tour of the city, would be
more representative than fixed sites. Mobile monitors
should not be mounted near tailpipes, but they could be
mounted so as to sample the air people actually breath
in Denver.
Care must be taken that measurements remain
objective and free from special-interest manipulations.
There are probably both better and worse places to
locate them, if the idea is to get readings which will
indicate attainment or violation of the standards,
regardless of actual air quality. Monitors could be
deliberately located in such a way as to misrepresent
what people are actually breathing. Because the idea is
to observe trends as well as particular readings, it may
be more reasonable to leave them where they are, and add
other monitoring stations when population growth or
traffic patterns indicate the need for more.
Another reason not to put too much stock in
predictions that Denver will achieve attainment status
in the near future is the importance of variations in
weather patterns from year to year. Although there were
only 11 violations in 1988, there were 30 in 1987.31

And the 1988-89 winter was an exceptional one in terms
of its meteorology, with fewer lengthy, low-level
temperature-inversion situations making for stagnation
and high levels of pollution.
Nevertheless, despite the reduction of the total
number of violations, Denver did suffer its longest
streak of pollution exceeding federal standards, 57
straight hours in December. It could be argued that
this observation was mainly the result of lowering the
standard this year, from 150 down to 100 on the
Pollutant Standards Index (PSI). But the 262 registered
on the evening of December 5, 1988, was the highest in
nearly three years.32 300 is considered immediately
A major feature of the whole national program to
reduce air pollution is the direct action EPA has taken
over the years in dealing with sources. EPA monitors
large point sources such as factories and power plants,
with a national registry of individual cases and
actions. It also maintains a continual review of state
and metropolitan areas, their attainment status,
monitoring programs, and implementation plans. But its
most direct and. successful activity has been in the
development of emissions standards for motor vehicles,
defined and enforced upon the manufacturer or importer.
EPA limits on emissions from various vehicles,

usually expressed in terms of grams of pollutant per
vehicle mile traveled (gms/VMT), have led to the gradual
addition of more and more emissions control devices on
succeeding model-years of cars and light trucks. These
include positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) valves,
hoses and filters to handle escaping fuel, catalytic
converters, and special throttle, carburetor, and
ignition settings, all designed to reduce harmful
exhaust emissions, especially carbon monoxide and
Earlier standards, requiring the introduction of
the PCV feature and unleaded gasoline in the 70s,
gradually increased in severity until the 1981 model-
year, when the now current standards first went into
effect. Since that time, as newer, cleaner vehicles
have gradually replaced older, dirtier ones, average
gms/VMT have continued to fall. But that does not mean
that total grams, or tons actually, of emissions have
fallen everywhere. Changes in the total also depend on
whether the total VMT has stayed the same or increased,
and by how much.
Total VMT in the Denver metropolitan area is
currently estimated at about 28 million per day, and the
annual increase in this figure is variously figured at
from 2 to 3% to as high as 7% per year.33 The latest
traffic study by the Denver Regional Council of

Governments (DRCOG) predicts a doubling of VMT, to 56
million per day, by the year 2010.34 In just a few
years most of the pre-1981 cars will have been retired
from the national vehicle fleet, and current standards
will no longer be able to offset the growth in VMT.
The idea of the Clean Air Act, the NAAQS, and
the EPA is to monitor state and local situations and
ensure that progress is being made to provide air
quality that meets expected standards. States which
have violations and a problem of nonattainment have to
have a State Implementation Plan (SIP) designed to
achieve attainment status in a certain amount of time.35
The SIP is subject to EPA approval. Failure to provide
an adequate SIP and make satisfactory progress toward
attainment makes the state subject to sanctions.
The 1970 Clean Air Act provided penalties for
nonattainment, including cutoffs of funds for federal
highways and sewage treatment plants and a ban on
construction of new pollution sources. When it was
found that there were still more than a hundred cases of
nonattainment when the deadline was reached at the end
of 1982, Anne Gorsuch (later Burford), first EPA
Administrator in the Reagan Administration, decided to
impose the construction-ban penalties provided in the
law.35 The ensuing opposition was part of some broader
controversy which eventually led to her replacement in

1983 by William Ruckelshaus, who chose to interpret the
law and EPAs discretionary authority more leniently.
He simply pressed for revised SIPs.
Perhaps Gorsuch was just trying to carry out her
duties to the letter of the law and saw no choice in the
matter. It is also suggested that she went for the ban
as a sure way of dismantling a large portion of the
newly developed and widely resented federal interference
in what were once mainly private or local matters.37
This interpretation would put her strict enforcement
stance more in line with her simultaneous statements
expressing strong disapproval of the Clean Air Act, and
her other more obvious efforts to restrict EPAs
Reversing the trend toward environmental
protection, which had been gathering authority for more
than a decade, through the administrations of several
Presidents, including both political parties, was a
natural part of the ideological force for less
government interference. The Reagan Administration came
into office on a platform which included "getting the
government off peoples backs. EPA, with its
requirements for Environmental Impact Statements (EISs)
and enforcement of all sorts of new federal regulations
had become a source of considerable irritation.
Whatever the individual motivations, the final

result did fit quite nicely into the general plan for a
"roll-back" of federal authority in the environmental
field. The process of securing attainment, compliance,
and enforcement of the NAAQS seems now to have become
one consisting largely of bureaucratic maneuvering and
political posturing. Still, this method may not be bad
or ineffective government, for none of the participants
can really afford to totally ignore one another, in view
of the public interests involved.
Fixing Federal and State Responsibility
The 1977 amendments to the Clean Air Act called
for a final deadline for attainment of December 31,
1987. When it became clear that a large number of
control regions were still going to be in violation, EPA
proposed delaying sanctions for another three years,
pending continuation of the SIP-review procedure and
further Congressional legislation.38 A special Senate
hearing was then convened on December 2, 1987, in which
Mayor Federico Pefia represented the position of Denver
and the National League of Cities before the Senate
Subcommittee on Environmental Protection.
Mayor Pefia asked them to "please keep our feet
to the fire" when considering substantive changes to the
Clean Air Act.39 He pointed out that the last one had
been passed 17 years ago, and it was not acceptable to

go another 17 years, making more than a third of a
century, to reach attainment. If this seems rather
strange, requesting federal pressure to do what is
essentially a task for state and local government, it
has to be realized that exceptionally strong forces
oppose any legislative measures which might restrict
business opportunities and hamper economic recovery in
The mayor recalled the situation back in 1981
when the proposal for mandatory annual inspections of
individual automobile exhaust emissions, with a
requirement for adjustments and repairs if they failed
to meet the standard, was being considered. He was then
serving in the state legislature, along with Anne
Gorsuch and Steve Durham, and knew where the pressures
were. His experience led him now to testify: "And
Senator, let me assure you with the strongest statement
I can, we would not have passed the inspection and
maintenance law were it not for the threat of federal
sanctions."40 This is a particularly candid observation
by Mayor Pefia with regard to the political realities in
The Mayor of Denver himself represents much of
the drive for further growth and economic development
that can apparently be countered only by the more or
less external force of Congress and the EPA. The threat

of federal sanctions is now, however, substantially less
than what it was in 1981. Senator Mitchell of Maine
raised the question of whether the EPA had the right not
to impose the sanctions in the Clean Air Act, but others
felt that they would be without foundation in law, since
the deadlines would be past. It makes for an
interesting sort of an argument, that penalties for
passing a deadline can not be exacted because the
deadline is past. That the question is still unresolved
points to the importance of a political consensus to
enforce the law.
Congress had already been wrestling with
possible provisions for a new Clean Air Act during 1987
and for about six years before that. Senator Simpson of
Wyoming, laid the blame for this delay, not on EPA, but
on Congress and on local officials, politely excepting
Pefia. Simpson said the proposals have been "too extreme
to pass."41 They may also have been too entangled with
one another, and complicated by a lack of leadership.
There were at one time six different bills on air
pollution, and simultaneous controversy over what the
actual health effects are, how much money should be
spent reducing it, how long attainment deadlines should
be extended, and what sanctions should hit states that
fail to meet the standards.42
Mayor PePia complained that it had been difficult

getting a response to the Colorado SIP from EPA. One
was submitted in 1982, and they were told it was
probably not acceptable. In 1984 new leadership came
along and said it was probably going to be acceptable.
So they discussed it for another two years, and then
were told it may not be acceptable. Nevertheless, the
mayor said that he expected Denver to be in compliance
regarding ozone soon, and on carbon monoxide by the mid-
1990s.4 3
Pefia did not think a construction ban would be
fair, calling it "arbitrary" in that it would probably
be imposed on only 14 cities at first, and would not
take into account "good faith measures" to reduce or
resolve the problem. It should also be noted that in
his prepared opening statement, the mayor pointed out
that "in Denver, air quality is not only a health issue
but an economic development issue as well."44 Growth
and air quality questions are closely connected
everywhere, but it may be a little more difficult for
local leaders to limit polluting activities when
business is slow.
Mayor Pefta agreed that a ban should be imposed
if a state failed to submit a SIP, submitted an
inadequate one, or failed to carry through with it.
But, said the mayor, Denver had already implemented an
oxygenated fuels program, a Better Air Campaign with a

voluntary no-drive day in high-pollution conditions,
woodburning bans, experiments with natural gas in city
and other vehicles, a change in the kind of diesel buses
the Regional Transportation District (RTD) buys, an
expanded "Park-and-Ride" program, and a Brown Cloud
study.4 5
Rather than discussing further local measures
which might be tried in Denver, Mayor Pefla suggested
some provisions for a new federal law which would help
support the Colorado effort. One is a 10-Year, 100,000
mile warranty on the vehicle manufacturers standards,
to include cold start and high altitude emissions
limits, for light trucks as well as cars.4 He would
also like to lower carbon monoxide at the tailpipe from
3.4 gms to 1.5-2.0 gms per mile. Such measures have
already been proposed by Senator Tim Wirth of Colorado,
who accompanied Pefia to the hearing.
Others in the Colorado Congressional delegation
have ideas as to what would be good for Colorado in
terms of new federal legislation. Senator Bill Armstrong
is working for a high-altitude emissions research
center, and co-sponsoring with Wirth a federal provision
that would permit western states to go on year-round
daylight-saving time at their own option.47 By moving
the evening rush hour an hour earlier into the winter
afternoon, it is thought that more of automobile exhaust

will disperse before being trapped by the evening onset
of a temperature inversion. Considerable controversy
surrounds this idea, not the least of which is whether
it would even work, or work well enough to justify the
Representative Dan Schaefer (Republican of
Colorado, Sixth District) has proposed that the EPA do
routine testing of vehicles at high altitude, where
newer cars can actually emit three to four times the 3.4
gms/mile national standard.4* Models which routinely
failed the test would be subject to manufacturers
recall procedures. He too would have EPA shift to a
cold-temperature method for certifying whether new cars
meet carbon monoxide standards.
Greater polluting emissions occur when engines
and ambient air temperatures are colder. Vehicles are
now certified between 68 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
This temperature range is not too relevant to the
situation in Colorado where the high pollution season is
in the winter, so Schaefer would lower the standard test
temperature to 40 degrees. The Colorado Department of
Health figures that this lower figure could result in as
much as a 50 percent reduction in carbon monoxide

Back to State and Local Control Programs
It may be rather difficult to develop sufficient
support for these measures at the national level in view
of the special circumstances they address. Most drivers
in most parts of the country do not need to concern
themselves with, or pay for, high altitude emissions
equipment. Such equipment is probably best handled as a
state requirement, connected with an annual inspection
program. But it would not hurt to have such an option
mentioned in a new Clean Air Act as one of the options
available to states in developing an acceptable SIP. It
might strengthen EPAs position in what amount to state-
by-state and provision-by-provision negotiations.
Provisions for cold start certification might
have more general application, though they may not be
all that valuable in warmer places, such as Southern
California, where the smog problem is mainly in the
summertime. But one approach to cleaner cold starts is
the use of fuel injection systems rather than
carburetors. Former EPA Administrator Lee Thomas
testified that he was already considering asking
automakers to increase the use of fuel injectors and
take other voluntary action to address the cold start
problem.50 For EPA to do more in this regard would
probably require congressional legislation, according to

Thomas. The administrator has considerable
discretionary power within the framework of the Clean
Air Act to issue regulations. Nevertheless, in view of
the potential resistance to elimination of traditional
carburetors, it is probably better for the agency to
have more explicit authority from Congress before
insisting on fuel injection.
Thomas did not hold out much hope for
communities who feel their local pollution problem can
be substantially reduced by tougher national standards.
Since 90* of tailpipe emissions have already been dealt
with, tighter standards are not going to provide much
reduction, he said.51 He did not explain that the 90*
figure represents a largely theoretical achievement, not
an actual reduction in emissions. All vehicles were not
polluting at the 100% level when the programs began.
But he did emphasize that, if tighter restrictions were
passed, say, on hydrocarbons in 1987, and EPA pressed to
get them into 1991-92 models, they would not be firmly
in place throughout the fleet until 2002.52 And then
the net effect would be a 1% reduction.
So the EPA Administrator felt that attention
must go "back to the question of controlling where the
cars go."53 He pointed out that there are already
"hotspot cities," and EPA has dealt with them by having
"SIP Calls," and insisting they be redone if they are

not working. EPA allows some slack if it looks as if a
program is going to reach attainment soon, but the SIP
would appear to be the main tool in the federal approach
to local air pollution problems. Thomas did not say
whether a SIP provision "controlling where the cars go"
needed the support of national legislation, but it
sounded as if programs of that sort would receive EPAs
approval if states should decide to go that route.
It does not seem likely that Colorado would
institute more restrictive programs without strong
pressure, either from EPA, local health and
environmental advocates, or from some increased effect
of the pollution itself. A very bad concentration of
carbon monoxide, with serious illness or death as a more
or less direct result, might spur action. But,
considering the substantial reduction in violations
which has already been made, it is rather unlikely that
a disastrous incident would occur and prompt dramatic
Nor is it very likely that clean air groups
could launch any more successful campaign than they
already have, in view of their inclination to act only
on carefully documented research findings. Perhaps some
aggregation of environmental interests, such as a Green
Party patterned on the development in West Germany, will
emerge and support further air quality legislation. But

the political foundations of a broader movement in the
United States are, at present, very far apart, and not
easily spanned by a commonly expressed ideology or
interest. It is very difficult for leadership to emerge
out of the separate groups concerned with similar issues
and secure a significant position in the American system
of political parties and state divisions.
EPA will probably continue to insist on local
attention to the pollution aspects of new projects, like
the airport and beltways. It may even slow down or halt
such developments until some pollution-fighting offsets
are provided, such as light-rail connections. But so
long as the current state programs show promise of
attaining the standard, or at least not allowing
conditions to get worse again, no federal penalties are
likely to result.
It would be well, therefore, to review those
programs and evaluate their current and continued
effectiveness. Recent disclosures of errors in
calculating the results of the Better Air Campaigns need
to be regarded with some concern, for they not only cast
doubt on this particular program but also undermine
support for related approaches. These developments will
be reviewed in the context of the whole array of
Colorado agencies and strategies for air quality in the
following chapter.

Denver Post. February 1, 1989, 1B
242 U.S.C. Sections 7401-7642.
3Walter A. Rosenbaum, The Politics of
Environmental Concern. 2nd Ed. (New York: Praeger,
1977), 280.
4"Environmental Protection Agencys Post-
1987 Ozone and Carbon Monoxide Attainment Strategy,"
Hearings of the Senate Subcommittee on Environmental
Protection, Dec. 2, 1987 (Washington, D.C.: Government
Printing Office, 1988), 25.
3Air Pollution Control Division, "Report to
the Public1987" (Denver: Colorado Department of
Health, October, 1987), 3-4.
Violation Data from Correspondence with Air
Pollution Control Division (APCD), Colorado Department
of Health.
742 U.S.C. Section 7402.
842 U.S.C. Section 7407.
942 U.S.C. Section 7409.
1042 U.S.C. Section 7410.
11 Air Pollution Control Division, "Colorado
Air Quality Data Report1986" (Denver: Colorado
Department of Health, 1987), 4.
12Kenneth Wark and Cecil F. Warner, Air
Pollution: Its Origin and Control. 2nd Ed. (New York:
Harper and Row, 1981), 23.
13Walter A. Rosenbaum, Envi ronmental
Politics and Policy (Washington, D.C.: Congressional
Quarterly, 1985), 117-123.
14Rosenbaum, The Politics of Environmental
Concern and Environmental Politics and Policy: Shawn

Bernstein, "The Rise of Air Pollution Control as a
National Issue: A Study of Issue Development" (Ph.D.
Dissertation, Columbia University, 1982); and Richard J.
Tobin, The Social Gamble: Determining Acceptable Levels
of Air Qua! itv (Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1979)..
18 Denver Post. January 29, 1989, 1H.
18Denver Post. July 8, 1988, 2A.
17 Ibid.
18 Denver Post. February 21, 1989, 2A.
19Violation Data from APCD Correspondence.
20 Ibid.
21 Denver Post. March 12, 1989, 1B.
22"Data Report1986," 4.
23 Ibid., 55-59.
24Carol E. Lyons, Stephen R. Andersen, and
David L. Dietrich, "Solving Denvers Brown Cloud
Problem: Science, Politics, and Money" (Denver: Scenic
Denver Progress Report, 1988), 2.
25 Denver Post. February 19, 1989, 3B.
28 Ibid.
27 Denver Post. December 18, 1988, 1H.
28"Data Report1986," 7-10.
29Denver Post. May 11, 1988, 1A.
30 Ibid.
31 Denver Post. February
1989, 1B.
32Denver Post.
December 10,
1988, 1A.
33Dan Schaefer (Rep. 6th District, Colorado),
"Congressional Newsletter" Reports on the Environment
(Washington, D.C., June, 1988).
34Denver Post. March 17, 1989, 1B.

3542 U.S.C. Section 7410.
36Environmental Politics and Policy. 1-6.
37 ibid.
38Business Week. December 7, 1987.
38Senate Subcommittee Hearings, December 2,
1987, 11.
40 Ibid., 19.
41 Ibid., 9.
42Schaefer, "Newsletter."
43 ibid. 56.
44 Ibid.
48 ibid. 16.
48 Ibid. 15.
47Denver Post. February 19, 1989, 1B.
48Schaefer, "Newsletter."
49 Ibid.
50Senate Subcommittee Hearings, December 2,
1987, 24.
s1 Ibid., 34.
92 Ibid.
53 Ibid.

The main burden of developing community programs
to attain National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS)
rests on state and local governments. Federal
regulation can do much to reduce harmful emissions from
motor vehicles. The national government can also help
with research and coordination of information regarding
what works and what does not, and under what
circumstances. But the law leaves to each state
experiencing an attainment problem the right as well as
the responsibility of coming up with a workable plan.
This chapter reviews the array of agencies
responsible for dealing with the problem of air quality
in Colorado, including some indication of special points
of view and relationships among them. It then discusses
some of the programs for reducing pollution,
particularly the Better Air Campaign (BAC) and
oxygenated fuels. The idea is to discover the kinds of
approaches that have been found both acceptable and
effective. It will also become clear that there is a
real reluctance on the part of those in government to
intrude in any way on popular lifestyles in the absence

of some overwhelming need.
Much of the effort to get people to pollute less
has been based on persuasion, public information, and
education. But it has now become apparent that
campaigns designed to secure voluntary compliance with
control measures may not be effective. Advertising and
marketing techniques have not coaxed many people out of
their private automobiles and into public
transportation, or convinced them of the dangers of
woodburning. And the long-term results of inculcating a
greater sensitivity to the common interest in clean air
may be too vague and too slow to serve as a practical
State Agencies and Local Authorities
The primary responsibility for monitoring and
controlling air pollution in Colorado belongs to the
state government rather than local authorities. This
locus of authority is partly due to the federal
arrangement and the allocation of tasks in the national
Clean Air Act.1 But it also results from the very
nature of the problem, for airborne particles and
chemicals can not be confined by city limits and county
lines. Finding higher or broader authority is
especially important in the Denver metropolitan area,
where there are dozens of separate governmental

entities, each with its own special jurisdiction.
It is not usually possible for a single
municipal or county unit to deal with an air pollution
problem on the basis of its own limited authority. The
affected airshed extends well beyond any local
jurisdictional boundaries. A community might try action
through the state legislature or courts, but it may be
easier to put up with occasionally being downwind from
an unhealthful or obnoxious source. Or, in the case of
a more generalized smog condition, it may not see that
curtailing its own partial contribution to the whole
problem really does anything but harm its own social and
economic interests.
Tony Massaro, the Mayors Assistant for
Environmental Affairs, says that there has been a
tendency in the past not to accept some limit in Denver
if others in the suburbs did not also have to comply
with it. He perceives a subtle but appreciable change
recently in the development of a willingness to accept
measures even having a negative impact, so long as
others do likewise. Now, Massaro says, Denver City
Council might even accept something like a ten dollar
parking charge as a way of controlling traffic, so long
as the Aurora Mall and others also have to do the same.
Of course, he says "it might take some arm-twisting."
Many different public governing entities in

Colorado, ranging from the General Assembly to the
Mayors Office of Environmental Affairs, City Council,
and their suburban counterparts are involved with air
pollution problems and issues in the Denver area. The
Public Service Commission (PSC), The Regional
Transportation District (RTD), as well as various city
and county health departments, Chambers of Commerce and
a whole host of public and private organizations also
have closely related interests and responsibilities.
But no single, regional authority exists in the
metropolitan area.
There was once an Inter-County Regional Planning
Commission, set up in 1955, which served as the regional
coordinating group to deal with metropolitan-wide
problems and planning.2 This agency was replaced in
1968 by the Denver Regional Council of Governments
(DRCOG), which later, from 1977 to 1985, served the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirement for
the governor to have a lead planning agency" on air
quality.3 But DRCOG is more of a research and
coordinating body than a governing authority.
DRCOG has been involved in a working agreement
with the State Department of Highways and the RTD (which
runs the buses), dealing with rush-hour, High Occupancy
Vehicle (HOV) Express Lanes for exclusive bus and
carpool use.4 But it no longer has any direct program

or funding activity related to air quality. Its
governing board consists of forty-four members,5
representing all six counties and thirty-seven cities in
the metropolitan area (Denver has twoone as a city,
one as a county). They are not directly elected, but
chosen by their respective governing units.
DRCOG has no legislative power. And, when it
has to take a position on transportation plans, such as
beltway and mass transit developments, or on issues
surrounding a new airport, it is sometimes cast in an
advocacy role, opposite the EPA and important
environmental interests in the community. It is
difficult to imagine DRCOG developing from an intercity
forum into a regional agency with enough independence
and authority to govern all of the interests involved in
creating and controlling air pollution.
Therefore, because the city can not do the job
alone and the regional council is not set up to do it,
the main activity gets sent to the state, the
legislature, and, in turn, to the Colorado Department of
Health (CDH). Within CDH is the Colorado Air Pollution
Control Division (APCD), which is the center from which
all of the different state programs and campaigns are
conducted.7 APCD has all of the independent,
professional status of any government agency, especially
one which is largely an organization of career experts,

scientists, and technicians.
APCD carries out its functions under the
auspices of the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission
(AQCC). The AQCC originated with the Colorado Air
Quality Control Act of 1970, where it was first called
the Air Pollution Control Commission until the name was
changed in 1979. The commission has state-wide rule-
making authority for air quality regulation as
designated by the General Assembly. It also has the
authority to adjudicate appeals arising out of any
enforcement action.
The nine members of the commission are appointed
to three-year terms by the Governor, subject to
confirmation by the Colorado State Senate.9 The AQCC
operates on the basis of recommendations made to it,
some coming from various other agencies, but most from
the APCD staff and the AQCC Technical Secretary, whose
office is within CDH APCD both physically and
organizationally. Funding for the AQCC is out of the
CDH APCD budget. The commission does not have a wide
range of discretionary authority, for the state
legislature maintains fairly firm control, as it does
over all administrative bodies in the state.
The APCD Director administers a number of
different programs,10 in various stages of development
from basic monitoring to the actual enforcement of

standards. These include: (1) Stationary Source
Permitting and Inspection, which is contracted to local
agencies wherever possible, (2) Inspection and
Maintenance of Mobile Sources, involving the emissions
stations and special research, (3) Better Air Campaign,
(4) Woodburning Research, (5) Air Quality Monitoring,
and (6) Research on Specific Pollutants, like carbon
monoxide and ozone.
Different Levels and Forms in Approaches
Pollution control has to be dealt with by a
jurisdiction that encompasses both those who will
benefit from abatement and those who will bear the
costs. Even then some people oppose restrictions by
pointing to the unfair disadvantage it creates for the
local unit in comparison with other metropolitan areas
or states. They can point to the way in which controls
raise costs and drive away business and industry. There
is no limit to this perspective as it directs attention
to a national and even an international competition that
governs al 1.
Working on the problem in terms of the broader
ramifications would undoubtedly prove to be as
frustrating and fruitless as approaching it from the
standpoint of being just one individual, or just one
town. The state level may not be the best for securing

environmental controls, in view of the important concern
with economic development. But there are worse places
to promote broader interests than the legislature. And
real opportunities exist to deal with the problem at
the state level, best evidenced by what has already been
One body which is frequently mentioned in the
press is the Metropolitan Air Quality Council (MAQC).
The MAQC was created in 1985 in response to a request
from Mayor Pefia to Governor Lamm for a new "lead
planning agency" as provided for in the Clean Air Act.11
It was first to be only temporary and due to disappear
after June 30, 1987. But it has been continued with a
mission somewhat more in the direction of opinion and
strategy shaper and advocacy.
There are twenty-three people on the council,
and they too are appointed by the governor, but without
any further official action. The membership of the MAQC
is supposed to represent a cross-section of business,
political, and community leaders in the metropolitan
area. The council conducts research, discussion, and
hearings, and makes recommendations to the governor,
which he may then send to the AQCC for action. In the
course of doing its work, the MAQC frequently becomes
involved in controversial issues and positions. It is
funded by money from the governors office, and by

contributions from industry and the University of
Colorado at Denver.
The MAQC is again scheduled to terminate June
30, 1989, unless the Governor appoints a new council, or
assigns the duties of "lead planning agency to some
other organization. Some suggest putting DRCOG back
in charge of air quality planning, as it was before
1985. Robert D. Farley, Executive Director of DRCOG has
said that this move would provide better coordination of
related efforts.12 It would form a 30-member panel,
consisting of Mayor Pefta from Denver plus one of the
commissioners from each of the other five counties in
the metropolitan area, another elected official from
Denver plus one from each of ten other metro-area
cities, and thirteen citizens jointly appointed by
Governor Romer and the DRCOG chairman.
DRCOG certainly has the necessary experience,
considering all of the research and planning it has done
in the past. Environmentalists and CDH officials feel,
however, that air quality would suffer under the care of
DRCOG, which is bound to be influenced by its structure
of representation and its involvement with regional
transportation plans, especially the highway and beltway
developments. MAQC member Greg Hobbs feels that "local
government officials have a bias toward growth proposals
for suburbs. A DRCOG group would capture all the air

quality efforts and make it subordinate to the
transportation effort."13
Some of those who favor returning air-quality
planning to DRCOG suggest that MAQC is not sufficiently
representative of the area. The council has served as a
platform for several strong clean-air advocates, such as
its Executive Director, Steve Howards, its current
Chairman, Dr. Michael Schonbrun of National Jewish
Hospital, and Dan Luecke, who also represents the
Environmental Defense Fund in Boulder. Their critics
would rather see less emphasis on public advocacy and
more on consensus-building. The jurisdictional issue
reflects underlying disputes among interests which would
be served best by the different organizational
structures. Each agency would select, process, and
emphasize issues and programs in its own way. Although
neither would be a law-making body, the proposals of the
"lead planning agency" carry that extra authority which
can be important in influencing public opinion and the
legislative process.
Another jurisdictional issue in this realm
involves proposals linking questions of county and city
planning to air quality. Location and design of
residential subdivisions, shopping centers, and office
parks would no longer be governed by local officials,
but require regional and even state-level approval.

Consideration of the air pollution implications of
particular projects would be mandatory. In view of the
substantial power which is wielded in these kinds of
decisions, it is unlikely that local officials will
surrender their authority without a struggle. The state
legislature has thus far been reluctant to move very far
into the realm of city and county prerogatives,
refusing, for example, to override woodburning
ordinances and parking policies.
Local zoning and planning designs are available
which would tend to reduce the number of miles people
drive, including requirements for clustered housing,
bike paths, smaller neighborhood shopping centers, and
mandatory shuttles to bus stops. But it is difficult
for officials of cities and counties to insist on
special restrictions and costly amenities to
construction within their jurisdiction. Residents may
not only complain to councils and boards, but also vote
them out of office. Developers may decide to take their
plans and investment funds to a more favorable climate,
in a neighboring community. Fierce competition exists
among local governments which limits their leverage in
negotiations over planning and building.
The recent 1987-88 Denver Brown Cloud Study was
conducted by a special group somewhat removed from, but
related to, official government activities. Also known

variously as the "Scenic Denver" project and the
"Chamber of Commerce" study, the research amounted to an
intensive "task force" examination of the brown cloud
and its formation, with particular attention given to
identifying its chemical constituents and attributing
them to various sources.14 It took more than a year to
accomplish, and cost $1.5 million.
The funds for the project were provided by
contributions raised from various interested parties in
the business and industrial community. Most prominent
among these was the Public Service Company (PSC) of
Colorado, which, along with its coal and gas suppliers,
put in the first $500,000.15 MAQC had proposed that PSC
be required to convert from coal to gas to run its three
metropolitan power plants. PSC naturally wanted to be
sure of its position before investing in costly changes.
The power company agreed to switch back and
forth between gas and coal during the following
November, December, and January winter pollution period
so that atmospheric sampling could evaluate the
difference in terms of the effect on the brown cloud.18
The APCD and EPA designed a model for the study,
including not only systematic observations by public
stations and private consulting firms, but also a peer
review procedure and coordination among the parties
involved. This participation helped assure the

professional integrity and credibility of project
It was not too difficult to get support from the
Wood Heating Alliance, which stood to gain by the sale
of improved stoves and fireplaces if woodburning turned
out to be enough of a hazard to require control.17 But
automobile and oil companies also contributed, figuring
that well-characterized sources might prove to be better
than vague attributions of blame. Even the United Mine
Workers joined in along with management. The
organization chart for Scenic Denver links the various
parti pants, contributing sponsors as well as technical
investigators, through the Project Manager directly to
the Governor of Colorado at the top.18
One of the major findings of the 1987-88 Brown
Cloud Study was that:
improvement in visibility was not found when
natural gas was used in place of coal by Public
Service Company to generate electricity in
comparable meteorological periods.19
It also found that:
burning natural gas reduced primary emissions of
the invisible gases (sulfur dioxide and oxides of
nitrogen) but these reductions did not contribute
to a detectable reduction in the brown cloud.20
Environmental scientists have had some difficulty
accepting this conclusion, since it does not seem to
serve the interests of science, but it does serve the
sponsors of the study.

Critics have charged that there were biases in
the study, particularly in its assumptions and
conclusions, which tend to emphasize only the brown
cloud, not all harmful pollution, and only primary
causation, not secondary results of atmospheric chemical
processes.21 As the study report itself pointed out,
A large fraction of the brown cloud is composed
of secondary ammonium nitrate [NH4NO3] particles,
formed from nitrogen oxides and ammonia gases.
The existence of complex chemical reactions in the
air prevents the apportionment of these secondary
ammonium nitrate particles to the secondary
There is also a small fraction of ammpnium sulfate
[(NH4)zSO4] Somehow the important role of large-scale,
high-temperature coal-burning in the creation of smog
became lost in the chemical and political smoke screen.
Governor Roy Romer played an important part in
putting together support for the study, and in drawing
upon its eventual conclusions. His immediate reaction
to the portions of the report which seemed to exonerate
PSC and its use of coal, was to dramatically reassure
western-slope coal miners that their jobs were safe, and
PSC would not have to make the expensive conversion to
burning natural gas for generating electricity.23 But
the process of creating the brown cloud is more complex
and cannot be explained by simply tracking emissions.
Deeper portions of the study recognize the atmospheric
complications, and do not provide PSC with a clean bill

of health.24
These events and the PSC response are discussed
further in Chapter V. What needs to be noted here is
the mutually supportive set of private and public,
business and government, interests brought together in
the Scenic Denver project. Such an arrangement is not
all that peculiar, for it follows a familiar pattern of
developing science and public policy in a mutually
supportive way. Decisions ought to be based on
knowledge, and research ought to have useful
application. But there is always the danger that they
may not fit exactly, and so compromises have to be made
which can cause science to mislead policy, or vice
The Better Air Campaign
This review of state developments in the realm
of air pollution control should provide a better
perspective for a look at the Better Air Campaign (BAC)
and some of the other anti pollution programs conducted
by the Colorado Department of Health (CDH). BAC is
essentially an annually recurring public information
appeal to the public which is intended to persuade them
to engage in less polluting behaviors. The campaign
operates directly through media advertising, and
indirectly through the mobilization of various community

communications systems, such as television news,
magazines and newspapers, and the public schools.
The BAC was the first voluntary program of its
size and scope in the country, and was designed
specifically to the task of reducing carbon monoxide
emissions from gas vehicles.25 Its first trial run was
from November 15, 1984 to January 15, 1985. It caught
public attention by promoting the idea of a voluntary
no-drive" day based on the last digit of a vehicles
license number. Public officials tried to set a good
example, and informal pressures were at work to promote
compliance with the plan. This influence was especially
evident in the press making public note of various
government officials using their vehicles on what was
supposed to be their "no-drive" day.
Later evaluations showed a 7 to 10% decrease in
carbon monoxide concentrations in downtown Denver.26 So
the program was repeated the following winter, for the
entire three-month period from the beginning of November
until the end of January. For the 1986-87 season it was
expanded in scope to include appeals regarding the use
of woodburning stoves and fireplaces. It also provided
public relations support for the mandatory oxygenated
fuels program which came into position in the middle of
the 1987-88 season. The actual contribution of the
advertising campaign to the reduction in driving is now

in question, as explained later.
The BAC is run by a special task force out of
CDH. It does two intensive studies each year. One is a
traffic study, employing multi-linear regression
analysis to sort out the various factors in the whole
traffic and pollution situation.27 It is from these
calculations that they derive the percentages of change
which can be attributed to different program strategies.
The second is a telephone survey conducted daily,
beginning a few weeks before the campaign period, to
evaluate modifications from the baseline in regard to
the woodburning limits.28
Recent surveys have collected basic demographic
information (age, sex, income, etc.) in addition to data
on driving habits, but no particular analytic use seems
to be made of these figures. They do not use them, for
example, to identify particular targets for more
intensive persuasive treatment. But they do use them to
measure their progress in moving people through the
"hierarchy of effects," from awareness to knowledge to
beliefs/attitudes to intentions to behavior.29 It is
straight out of the field of advertising.
BAC does aim its messages at automobile
commuters, and tries to get people to think about their
individual contribution to the problem and the solution.
But it does not seem to take full advantage of all that

market research and advertising technology might offer.
It needs a deeper understanding of why people drive when
they do and where they do, and why they do not. It
might then go beyond sweet reason and cute slogans and
really change the essential elements of driving habits.
Unfortunately, BAC has not had the luxury of
doing a lot of special surveys, according to Joe
Palomba, AQCC Technical Secretary. And there is a limit
to how far the advertising analogies go. In this case
the public "consumer" gets nothing that he can hold in
his hand and taste or use and then consider again. This
situation is a different sort of thing. But, he
acknowledges, it is the same in that reiteration is
essential, until people hear the name or program or idea
or whatever often enough to remember it and be open to
it in some way.
BAC does know that it has made progress in
breaking down the popular objection that an individual
contribution is not significant.30 And it knows that it
has to work on overcoming the objection that not driving
is inconvenient. It could perhaps use some more advice
from experts in the business of selling intangibles,
like health insurance or political candidates. But, in
all fairness, the BAC approach has been so successful
that it is now considered something of a model within
the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and has been

copied in a number of other metropolitan areas.
State and local leaders try to maintain a
positive point of view. Both the Governor of Colorado
and the Mayor of Denver took a rather up-beat public
relations style approach to the end of the 1987-88 BAC,
unfolding a large banner at a press conference, saying
"Thanks Colorado. You did it."31 But they conceded
that it was still not enough. They reported that the
BAC from November 2 to January 29 (weekends are
excluded) cut carbon monoxide with its no-drive days and
woodburning bans by 17* compared with 12* during the
previous year. Although the underlying validity of
these figures has since been challenged, it is
interesting to note the way in which they were used to
evaluate the progress of the program.
BAC had once predicted that they could make a
15* cut with no-drive days alone, but that strategy
seemed to account for only 9 or 10*. Brad Beckham,
director of APCD, observed that "we have a long way to
go to meet the federal standards."32 Woodburning bans
were responsible for most of the carbon monoxide
reduction over last years campaign, accounting for a 7*
reduction, compared with 3* last year. The oxygenated
fuels program, which was in effect for only one month of
the three, reduced carbon monoxide by an estimated 8 to

A number of prominent figures attended the
kickoff of the 1988-89 BAC. U.S. Senator Bill Armstrong
said "there isnt anything closer to my heart than the
clean air campaign."33 No one corrected his terminology,
although getting the name right is one of the evaluation
techniques employed in the telephone surveys. Armstrong
also noted that "this is a battle were in the process
of winning," to which Governor Romer added, "We may be
winning the battle, but the war is far from over." And,
speaking to the broader audience, Mayor Pefia pointed out
that "this is a metro problem that respects no political
boundaries," said Pefta.
This campaign included the same sort of
advertising appeals as in previous years, plus the
extension of the oxygenated fuels program to run for
four months, from November through February, with an
increased amount of oxygen additives. It also
discouraged woodburning on high pollution days, with
additional support from mandatory burning bans on those
days in Denver and most of the major suburbs. BAC
backed off a bit on the "no-drive" idea, deciding only
to ask commuters in the metro area to drive at least one
less day per week, and refrain from driving on high
pollution days.
Annual campaign slogans have included "Hop on
the bus, Gus," "We Want to Make it Clear," and "Goodbye

Carbon Monoxide, Hello Better Air."34 Display ads have
featured references to large and distant world problems
where individuals have little effect, and local air
pollution where they can. One of the more outspoken of
BACs critics has been State Senator Steve Durham, who
has used words like "stupid, idiotic, and inaccurate" in
referring to the ads.35 He tends to think the air in
Denver is overall pretty good, blaming the problem on
public hysteria created by BAC. He apparently chooses
to ignore the EPA and Denvers continuing violation of
the Clean Air Act.
Inadequacy of Voluntary Compliance
Durham may have overestimated the campaigns
influence on public feelings, for it has only recently
been discovered that BAC probably had very little real
effect in reducing driving and air pollution. This is
not to say that it has not had a positive effect. BAC
has made the public much more sensitive to the existence
of a problem. And, by developing public awareness, it
has been easier to establish and maintain the other
programs that really do have a direct and important
effect. But the direct appeal to refrain from driving
has apparently been largely ignored by motorists.
Both the Mayor of Denver and the Governor of
Colorado have claimed a 7% cut-back in driving because

of the campaign.38 But the reduction in driving was
never in actual VMT, but rather in comparison with a
theoretical figure based on an extrapolation from past
trends. That alone would not invalidate the claimed
effectiveness, for that was always what was being said.
BACs effect was considered to be the difference between
how much people drove on a particular day with BAC input
and how much they would have driven on that same day
without BAC, which can never be known and always has to
be "theoretical."
The problem has been in calculating how much
people actually drive on a given day. The state highway
department has 19 traffic counters installed at various
sites, mostly in central Denver.37 They have been in
place since the 70s and obviously no longer constitute
a representative sample of traffic in the greater
metropolitan area. But those counters have still been
used to make a daily estimate of total VMT for the whole
area. It is really just another "theoretical" figure.
Comparison of two such "guestimates" would be
all right, if no better measurements were available. But
the range of possible error would be much larger than it
would be with actual observations. Employing consistent
analysis techniques might reduce the importance of
random variations in the figures and provide a fairly
reliable indication of a trend. But there are good

reasons to believe that the variations in the daily
figures are not at all random, and a mistake was made in
the pre-BAC base-year of 1983-84 that tends to make the
possible margin for error ever larger.
Traffic patterns have changed so that now fully
half of all trips begin and end in the suburbs.3 The
downtown area is no longer the main hub of activity that
it once was, and several other centers for business,
shopping, and jobs have emerged. This pattern is one of
the main difficulties that has to be overcome in the
development of mass transit for the area. It is also
the reason for the difficulty in getting an accurate
measure of the private vehicle use that it would
presumably replace, or supplement. But more accurate
traffic counts are expensive, and may have to be related
to some larger transportation strategy.
The mere fact that the city and state are judged
on the basis of daily violations does not mean that the
program has to be linked so directly to that criterion.
If the BAC were to concern itself with reduction of the
overall amount of driving, or the most polluting kind of
driving, or with slowing the growth of traffic and
pollution, it might have a more definite though less
dramatic impact. Besides, if the average daily VMT
could be lowered, it would be less likely that
stagnation days would carry the pollution level over the

standard and into a violation.
It looks as if the BAC will remain, but the
direct advertising aspect will be cut from the program,
and it will focus less narrowly on high-pollution days,
no-drive days, and woodburning bans. It will also
realign its target from carbon monoxide to particulates
and the brown cloud. Steve Howards of the Metropolitan
Air Quality Council (MAQC) says "I dont think theres
any doubt cleaning up brown-cloud air pollution is the
goal the public most wants to achieve right now."39
This visible pollution seems to have more impact on
community consciousness than invisible carbon monoxide.
And, if the Brown Cloud Study is any indication, it
relates much more directly to the economic interests of
the city.
If voluntary no-drive days have not reduced
pollution, then the substantial decline in violations
during the past decade has to be attributed to other
factors. Part of it may be due to traffic having moved
away from the vicinity of the monitor which usually
indicated the most violations, at 21st and Broadway.
The improvement in the air may be largely a result of a
decline in the downtown economy. But, to the extent
that the improvement can be attributed to antipollution
programs, credit has to be given to those which are not
really voluntary.

It is the technological advances in vehicle-
emissions systems, mandated by federal law, and the
annual vehicle inspection and adjustment program plus
the oxygenated fuel requirement, mandated by state law,
which have been most effective in battling pollution.
And they tend to operate on a continuous, area-wide
basis, not just in one monitored location or when the
pollution threat is greatest. So, if the health threat
is something more than just what is gauged by exceeding
a standard figure at a monitor, these requirements are
improving the air.
But getting these involuntary programs in place
and keeping them there have not been without effort or
controversy, even though they would seem to be
relatively nonintrusive in terms of lifestyle. The
emissions inspection was conveniently brought in as the
former safety inspection was ended, so no big, new
requirement was imposedjust a change in focus. But
many objections were raised, just as they were when the
various anti pollution devices first began appearing on
vehicles. They still tend to be regarded by many as an
intrusion into their freedom in buying and operating
motor vehicles, and will be taken up in the next

Nonintrusiveness and Oxygenated Fuels
The plan which would seem to be the least
intrusive of them all is the use of oxygenated fuels
during the high pollution months. Just require the oil
companies to put a high-oxygen additive into their
gasoline during the winter months, engines would burn
the fuel more thoroughly, less carbon monoxide would be
produced, and the general public should not really be
inconvenienced. It was not that simple, as all
sorts of objections had to be overcome. Many of them
came from the oil companies, who complained about the
problems they would have, or their customers would have
and pass on to them.
The Colorado Department of Health (CDH) began
studying the oxygenated fuel strategy in 1982, and
Governor Lamm appointed a special task force which was
instrumental in bringing the idea into being. This
group ran into some very real complications, including
the difficult problem of determining how much of an
actual reduction in emissions could be expected from
changes in the composition of gasoline, a consideration
of what sort of damage or other problems could result
for various vehicles, depending on whether they were
older, newer, or computer controlled, and even how the
pipeline and other delivery systems brought fuel into

the state.
It is interesting that, as recently as 1985, Air
Pollution Control Division (APCD) publications were
discussing only ethanol-blended fuels in the context of
the oxygenated option.40 No mention at all was made of
methyl tertiary butyl ether (MBTE), though it eventually
became the dominant fuel supplied by the oil companies.
Ethanol is an agricultural product, is judged to be
superior to MBTE as a source of added oxygen, and had
been growing in popularity in the corn-growing states
since the oil crises of the mid-70s. Nevertheless,
problems were encountered in bringing the additives into
the distribution system when the requirement was finally
The Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC)
recognized that there were some very real technical and
logistical problems, though it may have been overly
patient. The CONOCO oil company came in at the last
minute and showed the commission their problems of
getting the distribution and pumps and everything ready.
So, because of the costs and time pressure, and because
it was the first attempt at the program, they were
permitted to slip the beginning date from mid-November
to the first of January, according to the AQCC Technical
Secretary. A legislative audit program came along later
and criticized the CDH for not having gone faster.

The oil industry had claimed that the oxygenated
fuels program was going to cost the consumer fifteen
cents a gallon at the pump, while the APCD staff felt it
would be more like two and a half to four cents a
gallon. The AQCC chose to believe the latter and
insisted on bringing them in. It turned out that other
costs went down, so prices stayed about the same. The
oil companies later said the program still cost the
consumers about $7 million because prices could have
been lower, and another $7 million because of lower
milage per gallon from the blends.41 Solid evidence for
these claims has not been presented, but it does fit in
with popular complaints.
CDH, as well as some private groups such as the
Colorado Corn Administrative Committee, an ethanol
promoter, have tried to dispel some of the rumors and
false information about oxygenated fuels. But they have
not done as much as could be done to provide convincing
evidence of the effectiveness of the additives in
decreasing carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions.
The references to expected percentage-reductions in
pollution levels is too abstract for the average
motorist to comprehend, especially in comparson with the
more specific negative publicity. The signs on Vickers
pumps attesting to the fact that their product contains
no alcohol, and their addition of MTBE only when

required by law, serve only to fuel public suspicion of
the program.
Governor Romer had predicted that people would
blame the new fuels for many totally unrelated problems
with their vehicles, and they did. CDH alone received
2,600 calls in just the two months in which the blends
were run in the pumps.42 After the first three months
of the 1988-89 season, they had only recorded a total of
125. The negative reaction the first year included an
attempt to put the program on the ballot as a referendum
issue, and the beginning of a recall movement against
the governor. But, even with increased levels of the
additives during the second year, complaints were much
less frequent.
Nevertheless, considerable evidence of a
volatile populist attitude about such matters exists,
and a readiness to take action against what is perceived
as unwarranted government intrusion to some people.
Some of these strategies may not impact lifestyle all
that directly, but they tend to elicit the same sort of
responses, especially when they touch a particularly
sensitive or intimate area. And people do care about
their cars and trucks, just as if they were loved ones,
or extensions of themselves. The reactions to anyone
messing with their vehicles suggest personal attachments
that are a lot closer and deeper than a simple

dependence on them for transportation.
Some other strategies also promise to be
nonintrusive and not depend on voluntary compliance by
the general public. One of these is better
synchronization of traffic signals. Slow-moving and
idling vehicles are especially inefficient, providing
zero miles per gallon and plenty of harmful emissions.
Adjusting green and red lights so as to smooth the main
flow of traffic is a relatively painless way of reducing
pollution. But before DRCOG can even think about ways
of tying the whole metropolitan area together with
synchronized signals, it has to find out how
electronically compatible they are.43 Then it must
coordinate the merger of different city and county
systems, each of which constitutes a fairly large local
Denver's Better Air Campaign (BAC) has received
much attention, nationally and even internationally, as
an approach to cleaner air. It does deserve recognition
for the way in which it has pulled various interests
together on particular strategies and encouraged public
support for different measures. But, if it has been the
success of a program of persuasion and voluntary
compliance that has been the main attraction, then they
might as well forget using the Denver model. If the BAC
experience has proven anything, it is that the voluntary

approach does not work. Or, better, it has not worked
without the associated involuntary control programs.
The possibility of control strategies remaining
nonintrusive is also in question as a result of the
Denver experience. Very little can be done in this area
that does not intrude upon sensitive areas of public
interest. And, when those intrusions are minimized for
the vast majority of the general population, they can
still provoke signficant negative reaction from
particular groups who have to bear a large part of the
burden of change, such as those who have to supply
oxygenated fuel or purchase new traffic signal systems.
It looks as if any signficant further progress
in securing cleaner air may have to come as a result of
programs which are intrusive, and involuntary. That
should really not come as any great surprise. If what
is involved is a substantial modification in individual
human behavior, the ample evidence in the psychological
field regarding the difficulties involved in changing
deeply engrained habits need to be considered.
Psychology can also provide some useful lessons in how
to go about the process of change. Most of them would
suggest a closer look at some of the comtemplated
changes, comparing the expected costs of the various
strategies as well as the consequences.

142 U.S.C. Sections 7401-7642.
2Ciruli Associates, "Request for Proposals and
Qualifications: Socio-Economic Impacts of Air Pollution
Control Options; 1987-88 Metro Denver Brown Cloud
Study," (Denver, 1987).
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid.
3 Ibid.
6Denver Post. March 6, 1989, 1A.
7Air Pollution Control Division, "Report to
the Public1987 (Denver: Colorado Department of
Health, October, 1987), 47.
3 Ibid., 1.
9Ciruli, "Request for Proposals."
10"Report to the Public1987," iii.
11Ciruli, "Request for Proposals."
12 Denver Post, April 11, 1989, 1 B.
13 Denver Post. Aoril 27, 1989, 2B.
14Carol E. Lyons, Stephen R.Andersen, and
David L. Dietrich, "Solving Denvers Brown Cloud
Problem: Science, Politics, and Money" (Denver: Scenic
Denver Progress Report, 1988), 2.
15 Ibid., 4.
16 Ibid.
17 Ibid., 6.
18 Ibid
Figure 3.

19"1987-88 Metro Denver Brown Cloud Study:
Project Summary" (Denver: Scenic Denver, October,
1988), 2.
20 Ibid.
21 Denver Post.
22"Brown Cloud
23Denver Post.
24Denver Post.
October 9, 1988, 4D.
Project Summary," 2.
October 9, 1988, 4D.
November 23, 1988, 1B.
25Air Pollution Control Division, "Report to
the Public1985" (Denver: Colorado Department of
Health, October, 1985), 5.
2BAir Pollution Control Division, "1985-1986
Better Air Campaign Final Report," (Denver: Colorado
Department of Health, May, 1986), v.
27Robert Booth, "Analysis of Vehicle Miles
Traveled; 1986-1987 Better Air Campaign," Air Pollution
Control Division (Denver: Colorado Department of Health,
April, 1987).
28Market Analysis Professionals, "Better Air
Campaign; Market Research and Analysis" (Denver:
Colorado Department of Health, March, 1986, and June,
Ibid. (1987), 151 .
Ibid., 156.
Denver Post. March 8, 1988, 2B.
Denver Post. November 2, 1988, CD CM
Denver Post. February 1 , 1989, CD a
Denver Post. May 11, 1988 , 1 A.
Denver Post. December 18, 1988, 1H.
3 7 Ibid.
38 Ibid.

39Denver Post. February 1, 1989, 1B.
40"Report to the Public1985."
4 1 Denver_Post, March 30, 1988, 6B.
42 Denver Post. February 1, 1989, 1B.
43Denver Post. January 3, 1989, 3B.

Public opinion surveys continually show that
people regard pollution control and air quality as very
important, and are even willing to pay extra to get it.1
Nevertheless, they continue to engage in activities
which unnecessarily pollute, and complain about programs
that require sacrifices. Their specific objections seem
to carry more political weight than their general
desires, for the state legislature and other public
officials have been reluctant to interfere with personal
liberties and popular lifestyles, confining themselves
to programs which have been more or less voluntary and
nonintrusive. However, the lack of success in attaining
national air quality standards, and the concern that
metropolitan growth will reverse the trend toward fewer
violations, suggest the need to consider programs that
are less voluntary and more intrusive.
This chapter examines some strategies for
reducing air pollution that do intrude, directly or
indirectly, by requiring, restricting, or restructuring
various activities. Intrusive approaches include
adjustments to rush hours, municipal woodburning bans,

and state inspections of vehicle emissions. A review of
such mandatory programs leads rather naturally to a
discussion of enforcement programs. This background may
then serve as the basis for considering some rather
different strategies, and adopting more appropriate
criteria for the evaluation of public policy.
Stricter rules and enforcement programs could
serve to enhance cooperation with those requests for
voluntary cutbacks that now tend to be ignored. The
Better Air Campaign (BAC) might be substantially more
effective if it were coupled with some penalties for
violating woodburning bans or driving restrictions. Such
penalties need not be so certain or so costly as to
require extensive police and court action. If people are
already predisposed to cooperate, and suitable
alternatives are available, they may require only a
pointed reminder of their civic duty to do what is less
The Intrusiveness of Various Approaches
Many strategies for reducing air pollution
involve closing off some areas of freedom and opening up
other areas which may not be as appealing, because they
involve signficant changes in individual lifestyles and
personal costs. It is often difficult to judge what is
an intrusion and what is not, because the distinction

rests on popular reactions to a change. Particular
strategies may also effect various segments of the
economy and the general public in quite different ways,
as new requirements frequently impose a greater burden
on some people than on others.
The oxygenated fuels program was considered in
Chapter III to be one of the less intrusive ways of
reducing harmful emissions from automobiles. It did not
really require a significant change in behavior on the
part of the average motorist. But the requirement for
additives to gasoline did intrude on the operations of
the oil companies. They had to deal with the details of
supply, mixture, and distribution to the filling
stations. The petroleum industry also had to protect
its market from invasion by the ethanol industry, which
would received an extra boost in sales if it had the
only appropriate additive to meet the new standards.
Requiring oxygenated fuels would seem to be
relatively nonintrusive in terms of general lifestyles,
but the new rule has not been perceived as such by many
people. They feel they are being restricted in their
freedom to choose the gasoline which is best for their
cars and trucks, and forced to use additives which they
might be harmful to their engines and fuel connections.
This attitude works to the advantage of the oil
companies, but it is difficult to implicate industry

interests in the perpetuation of popular complaints with
the program. Indications of dissatisfaction could be
plain, old-fashioned resistance to change, or modern,
up-to-date scapegoating.
Many are similarly disturbed by another proposal
which they think is further government interference in
their lives, extending daylight-saving time through the
high-pollution months of the winter. Americans have
become accustomed to moving their clocks ahead an hour
each spring, resulting in an extra hour of daylight time
for enjoyment in the evening during the warmer months.
Don Barbarick of the state Air Pollution Control
Division (APCD) is one of many who have suggested that
not setting the clocks back in the fall, and keeping
that extra hour of sunlight at the end of the work day
throughout the winter, would slow the development of
high concentrations of pollutants during the evening
rush hour.2 It would effectively delay the onset of
night-time temperature inversions by an hour, thus
shifting a large amount of traffic and carbon monoxide
production into the middle of the afternoon, when it is
more likely to be ventilated.
But Wallace Howell, a Fellow of the American
Meteorological Society with a Doctorate of Science from
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says that the
clock-change strategy will not work the way its

proponents claim.3 He says that their scenario of a
high-pollution situation is wrong, as it presupposes a
good venti1 ation day. But it is when ventilation is
already bad that then things becomes worse at sundown
and lead to a violation. Shifting the rush hour would
not make enough difference in accumulation to make a
significant change. Howell questions Barbaricks
argument for several other reasons as well, particularly
for ignoring the way in which pollution levels in the
morning would be affected, and for having several
results which fall within the range of chance.
Under the circumstances it would be difficult
for the legislature to make an abrupt change in the
federally established time zone, even if a waiver were
granted by Congressional legislation. It might be worth
experimenting to see exactly what does happen, but the
actual number of days on which a National Ambient Air
Quality Standard (NAAQS) is violated is so small and the
variations in the different variables are so large that
it would take many years to establish the relationship.
Making a marginal improvement on about 20 high-pollution
days each year may not be worth the trouble of another
154 days of "daylight-losing" time for those who must
venture out on cold, dark, winter mornings.
Consideration of the year-round daylight-saving
strategy soon degenerates from a theoretical debate

among atmospheric scientists into arguments over school
bus schedules and child safety, advantages of being on
the same clock-time as the Central Zone, problems with
farm animals and house pets, disruptions in sleep
patterns, tampering with "Gods Time," and all the other
points raised whenever this issue is mentioned. Many
interests that have little or nothing to do with air
quality are involved. A change in the clocks could be
made as a noble experiment. But it would require
substantial leadership efforts to enact and sustain it.
The broader ramifications of the winter
daylight-saving time strategy probably dooms it as a
viable approach, unless someone develops a convincing
computer simulation, indicating that substantial
improvements would be gained, and the scientific
community agreed with it. Still, opposition to ideas
such as clock changes should not be taken to mean that
substantial lifestyle intrusions will not be tolerated.
One of the best examples of the eventual acceptance of a
significant change in public behavior is in the use of
the once ubiquitous backyard incinerator.
It was as recently as the 1960s in Denver that
anyone with trash to burn could simply go out and set a
match to it. Joe Palomba, Technical Secretary to the
Colorado Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC), is one
of the old-timers who remembers, when it was first

suggested that burning be forbidden, many people were
upset. He says that it was almost as if they had some
kind of personal relationship with their incinerators.
And then, when the restrictions on burning were
established, many people wanted to know why the air did
not get better, as they thought had been promised in
return for their "sacrifice."
It was difficult to convince people that things
would have become worse if they had not stopped burning
trash. But acceptance of the restriction eventually
grew, so that now they would not even think of doing
such a thing. And, if today it does not seem to have
been a truly profound change in lifestyle, or even much
of an inconvenience, that is the very evidence of the
development of a new and different attitude. It remains
to be seen whether the same sort of change can be
brought about with regard to activities based on more
important matters and more deeply engrained habits.
It makes no difference what sort of change or
restriction is needed, what makes sense, what is viewed
as workable and desirable; every suggestion of some new
limitation on human activities is going to inconvenience
someone. And, with many of the anti pollution
strategies, many will be not only inconvenienced but
upset. Their feelings will constitute the basis of more
or less active opposition during the process of enacting

a new rule, and serve to undermine enforcement after
enactment. It is important to appreciate the importance
of a fairly high level of public cooperation and the
role of voluntary compliance, after a suitable
adjustment period, unless a very much more intrusive
governmental presence is accepted.
The idea is to get compliance based on
cooperation that is somehow automatic to the need,
thereby making coercion unnecessary in many cases. The
focus of government activity could shift from the police
power over to the public relations arm of state and
local authority. Enforcement might even be relegated to
the realm of the individual, personal reponsibi1ity of
citizens. Changes of this sort might involve some
simple adjustments, or some long-term, even permanent,
changes in lifestyle. But it has been done before, in
the matter of air pollution, in Denver, with those
backyard incinerators.
Woodburning Bans and Standards
One of the problems with voluntary compliance is
that it does not really get at truly bad, subversive, or
outright criminal behavior. It only reminds good people
of their duties. Nor does it really convey the
seriousness of the situation and the importance of a
rule to those who may be inattentive or forgetful,

rather than deliberate in their violation of public
policy. Law enforcement and penalties do command
attention to a problem, and emphasize the determination
to do something about it. Their effectiveness may be
seen in recent enactments of residential woodburning
bans and standards in many communities, and the public
response to them.
A large share of fine particulates and carbon
monoxide in the Denver air comes from home fireplaces
and stoves.4 It is estimated that a total ban on
woodburning would reduce the Brown Cloud by 40*.5 Since
both Governor Romer and Mayor PePia have declared a
common goal of cutting the Brown Cloud in half by the
Year 2000, anything that can be done to decrease
woodburning would have a significant effect.6 Others
estimate the stove and fireplace contribution to the
Brown Cloud at 22*, and to the carbon monoxide problem
at 15*.7
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible gas
consisting of free molecules, indistinguishable from one
another and unrelated to other substances in the
atmosphere. It cannot, therefore, be attributed to
particular sources in the same way as woodsmoke and fly
ash, which can at least be characterized as to their
origins in the burning of wood and coal. The estimate
that 15* of the carbon monoxide problem is caused by

woodburning is based on telephone surveys of professed
obedience to bans in force. Because people may be
reluctant to admit breaking the law, calculations of the
stove and fireplace component are not based on very
solid ground. Nevertheless, studies of different units
and their efficiencies indicate stoves and fireplaces
are a significant source of air pollution. Mitigation
strategies must therefore include standards and controls
for woodburning, even though they intrude on home and
hearth, by the tens of thousands.
The number of woodburning stoves in the
metropolitan Denver area has been put at 70,000, and
fireplaces at 270,000. Another estimate is a total of
300,000 such units altogether.9 These figures are in
sufficient agreement to give a reliable estimate of
their probable output, and the enormous task of
controlling their use. Two main approaches have been
taken. One is a broadscale ban on all woodburning on
high-pollution days, excepting only those homes where it
is the primary source of heat, or where special clean-
burning units have been installed. The second main
approach is the setting of design standards for
emissions and certifying units on a manufacturing-model
basis, similar to the way in which automobiles are
regulated at the federal level.
The first move by the state legislature was in

the certification of new stoves for sale. But the most
direct applications of new standards, as well as
outright bans, have been at the local level. Efforts to
establish state-wide, or even metropolitan area-wide,
rules have not been successful. Too many different local
interests and opinions tend to hinder development of a
broader consensus. But the Metropolitan Air Quality
Council (MAQC) has recommended that nearly all
woodburning in the metropolitan area be banned by the
mid-1990s, except for super-clean Phase III stoves.10
Units have been classified in three groups,
Phase I, II, and III, based on their increasing
efficiency and decreasing emissions. Phase I stoves and
fireplaces are basically those which have been around
for years, meeting no particular standards. Phase II
stoves are those that emit no more than 200 grams of
carbon monoxide and 12 grams of particulates per hour.
Phase III standards have not yet been set. Perhaps 5*
of the woodburning units in the area would meet the
Phase II standard, but very few would be Phase III.11
This ultimate standard for clean burning will be
nearer that of electrical and gas appliances, which are
often promoted as replacements for traditional
woodburning units. All conversions are expensive, and
various proposals have been made which would provide tax
credits, easy loans, or other help to homeowners making

the switch. Applying more stringent standards only to
new construction has not been considered adequate, as
the estimated 250,000 old, "grandfathered," stoves and
fireplaces would continue to pollute.12
In view of the enduring attraction of
traditional fireplaces, the effect on new home sales and
construction in comparison with the resale market could
be considerable. It might even serve to slow the growth
of sprawling suburban tracts, but at the risk of
concentrating the mass of woodburning addicts in older
neighborhoods. It is likely that there could even be an
increase in use of old stoves and fireplaces if they
were not included in new restrictions. Still, it is
important to recognize the enormous monetary costs which
are involved, as well as the emotional price for those
who are fond of a cozy fire.
Bob Kuyper of the MAQC says that the discussion
of standards has captured the attention of stove-buying
consumers, as indicated by their questions in
conversations with salespersons, and by their choices.
Dave Carlson of the Public Service Company (PSC) of
Colorado notes that only 350 natural-gas logs and
fireplaces were purchased in the Denver area in 1986.13
In 1987, when many cities enacted woodburning bans on
high-pollution days, 4,100 units were sold. And 4,200
had already been sold at the end of the first 9 months

of 1988. A new Denver ordinance permitting installation
of more popular but previously restricted gas-log models
should give sales an added boost.
Boulder, Littleton, and Thornton allow
woodburning on high-pollution days only in stoves that
conform to the state Phase II standard.14 Denver has
set a stricter standard of 100, rather than 200, grams
of carbon monoxide and 8, not 12, grams of particulates
per hour. Westminster is even tougher, allowing only 75
grams of carbon monoxide and 6.1 grams of particulates
per hour. Cities with total bans on woodburning on
high-pollution days include Arvada, Aurora, Broomfield,
Greenwood Village, Longmont, Sheridan, Louisville, and
Public response to these local ordinances and
the Better Air Campaign (BAC) has been encouraging.
Statistics regarding compliance and enforcement are
sadly lacking, but Mayor Pefla did note at the close of
the 1987-88 BAC that 62* of households had complied with
the mandatory woodburning bans, while 42* complied with
requests not to burn in communities with voluntary
programs.15 These figures may not be as convincing now
that other BAC calculations have turned out to be wrong,
but they do say something about public response in this
area. The majority cooperated, and most of them did so
without the threat of being fined.

More local governments are likely to enact
ordinances setting emissions standards and woodburning
bans. But, unless much greater pressure is applied, by
EPA or some other group, it is unlikely that the state
legislature will move much farther or faster in this
sensitive area of popular lifestyles. Even Steve
Howards of the MAQC, usually an advocate of strict
controls, acknowledges the political limits. Regarding
Phase III, he says that "we would like to see that
standard be equal to the emissions from the cleanest,
commercially available woodburning technology."16 "From
an air quality perspective, it would be preferable to
simply ban woodburning. But when youre dealing with
social realities, its going to be quite a while before
the public goes that far."17
Laws Against Smoking Vehicles
In some ways it is easier to proceed against
motor vehicles as a source of pollution than against
household stoves and fireplaces. Cars and trucks are
usually out on public roads, where they have long been
required to conform to various community standards and
be subject to police jurisdiction. It is generally
easier to identify and ticket a smoking automobile than
a nonconforming fireplace, and simpler to require an
emissions test for every motor vehicle as part of the

established, annual registration procedure than to
develop a home inspection program where none exists.
The Colorado State Department of Health (CDH)
has a Smoking Vehicles Program, designed to identify
those cars and trucks in need of repair which may not be
caught by annual inspections. It covers the older, pre-
1968 automobiles as well as other types of vehicles
which are not required to pass the annual standards
tests, plus those which happen to develop problems in
between test dates. And it involves not only law
enforcement officers and health department officials,
but private citizens as well. Anyone observing a
smoking vehicle may report it to the Air Pollution
Control Division (APCD) by phone or letter.
APCD then sends a letter to the offender,
mentioning the adverse report and discussing the
possibility of a violation. In the course of one year,
APCD sent out approximately 600 such letters.18
Acknowledgements were received from 231 owners, 55% of
whom indicated that their vehicle had either been fixed
or was no longer being driven. This approach does not
produce the high level of compliance some might wish to
see, but it is a very successful program, measured in
terms of the cost to the state, the relative convenience
to citizens, and the final results.
Local city and county laws pertaining to smoking