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_* INDEPENDENCE ISSUE PAPER 5-89 [_ independence Institut + 14142 Denver West Parkway #101 * Golden, CO 80401 + (209) 279-6536 May 26, 1989 RESTORING THE PEOPLE'S VOICE IN AIR QUALITY PLANNING Governor Should Free Metro Denver From Top-Down Bullying By C. Edwin Baker, Ph.D. Introduction by the Editors Is the air pollution in metro Denver actually hazardous to public health? Experts differ, but’ one thing is cer- tain. Murderous rhetoric envelops the policy debate, whether or not medical risks are present in the atmosphere it- self. Reauthorization of the air quality plan- ning structure, which must be decided in the next five weeks, has become the latest target for a lethal crossfire. The existing structure was assailed in the Rocky Mountain News on Hay 3. as “an angry warrior on a bureaucratic holy war, an adversary group breathing fire at anyone who dares to cross its path." But a proposed alternative setup was scorned by the Denver Post on April 12 as “limitled] to the Towest common de- nominator, [biased toward] the very development that causes air pollution, akin to asking Manuel Noriega to take over the war on drugs." An incident in April 1989 indicated some of the structural and philosophical reasons why the existing air quality council has become controversial. First the director, annoyed with dis- agreement he had encountered from DU atmospheric researchers, overstepped his authority by circulating an official letter charging that the University of Denver is carried away by “zeal to se- cure financial support Land] may be (Continued on Page 3) Renewal or Replacement for MAQC? Current authorization and funding for the Denver area Metropolitan Air Quality Council (NAQC) is scheduled to expire on June 30, 1989, On or before that date, Gov. Roy Romer must decide whether to recommission the MAQC or designate a new air quality planning agency. 1977 amendments to the Air Act, the Denver Re- gional Council of Governments (DROCOG) was delegated authority to becone the original air quality planning agency for the Denver area. Pursuant to the federal Clean DRCOG served in that role until 1985, when Gov. Richard Lamm, at the urging of Denver Mayor Federico Pena, decided to form an ad hoc committee to relieve DRCOG of its air-related duties, and ‘thus MAQC was created. Apparently, Pena and Lamm were not satisfied that DRCOG was doing its job. (Continued on Page 3) SE DESCRIPTIVE TABLE OF CONTENTS Federal Mandate Ignored... . +++ 4 Unhappy History of MAQC.... +--+ 5 Plan I Differs Little. ..---.-+ 6 Merits of DRCOG Plan. -- +. +++ 7 Recommended Action. ..++++++ 8 Comparative Table... ...+ +++ 10 Note: The Independence Issue Papers are published for educational purposes only, and the authors ‘speak for themselves. Nothing written here is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of the Independence Institute or as an attempt to Influence any election or legislative action, THE DENVER POST Tuesday April 25, 1989 DRCOG's director makes the case for Plan D. Note the statesmanlike omission of any reference to Plan M or Plan I. DRCOG can cure our sick air HE DENVER Regional Council of Govern- ‘ments is looking into taking back responsibility in the battle against air pollution, an idea edito- rially damned by the Denver Post while still on the drawing board. ‘The Post's April 12 editorial was obviously based on the presumption that DRCOG would seek to con- trol air quality planning — a structure not being even remotely considered. In fact, while not ready to en- dorse the Post's proposal for “an independent. group of gadflies,” probably only the “gadflies” would pro- voke a strong difference of opinion, DRCOG was denounced for operating “by consen- sus — not by advocacy.” We are pleased to plead guilty as charged. In our 4 years of Working for met- Fopolitan cooperation, we haven't found contentious. ness to be productive, but, of course, it makes great Teading. By way of advocacy, we've been there on every issue facing the metro area — state participa. tion in funding for a new convention center, construc- tion of a new state corrections diagnostic cénter, and, for the past four years, financing for transportation improvements. Isn't this advocacy? ‘The Post then charged that DRCOG is dominated by pro-growth suburban lawmakers competing for development. “They surely aren't going to endorse ‘mass transit — or any other anti-pollution strategy - if it means they won't get money for new roads or wil have to accept limits on growth.” In fact, DRCOG has endorsed rapid transit since 1971 — nol only in our transportation plans, but also in both the 1978 and 1982 regional air-quality plans adopted by the board, But while DRCOG advocates rapid transit, I would be guilty of perpetuating the ‘same myth as The Post if T were to imply that transit, will dramatically reduce air pollution. ‘The recent Metro Denver Brown Cioud Study pre- pared by the state, EPA and the Denver Chamber of Commerce estimated that proposed transit improve- ments would reduce oxides of nitrogen, hydrocarbons and particulates by less than 2 percent, and achieve no reduction in sulfur dioxide. As that study conclud- ed, air-quality improvements resulting from transit, ‘would be no more than a by-product of what is essen- tially a transportation strategy. On the other hand, our airquality analysis of the 2010 Regional Transportation Plan revealed that building a combination of roads and transit to meet expected travel demand would cut carbon monoxide emissions by 36 percent and hydrocarbons by 29 per- by ROBERT FARLEY cent, while raising nitrogen oxides only 14 percent. ‘Two major points The Post missed are who has the responsibility for designating the lead air-quality planning agency and what agencies are to be consid- ered for air-quality planning responsibilities. To quote from the Clean Air Act, “after consultation with elected officials of local governments . .. (the gover- nor) shall designate an organization of elected offi cials of local governments in the affected area or a state agency to prepare such a plan," Who fits that description if not DRCOG? When all is said and done, DRCOG may not want this designation, which is why the staff asked the board to explore the idea rather than pursue the job. ‘A major product of the staff proposal was identifying needed elements to make planning process work. ‘These include cooperation and open communica- tion between the state, EPA and DRCOG; a specific Work program for the preparation of ‘air-quality plans; commitment of adequate levels of funding, Staffing and technical resources to da the job; com. munication and coordination among key air-quality agencies, and coordination of air quality and trans- portation planning activities and goals. These are es- sential components if the air-quality planning process is to have any chance of success, as is an organiza- tional structure acceptable to all parties concerned. So given the pitfalls, why is DRCOG considering taking ‘on this role? Because in our role as a regional planning agency, we can bring together transporta- tion, air quality and regional growth and development planning under one umbrella; because we have a proven track record in meeting our obligations in all. planning areas; because we have the technical capa- bilities required to do the job; and because we are a consensus-building organization that can bring to- gether the various interests and move this issue for- ward. Who can do it better? obertD Faye executive decor of he Conver Region! Counc Continued Introduction seriously compromising the integrity of [its] reputation as a scientifical ly-based research institution." Then the council chairman, saying he was “caught by great surprise," hastily wrote DU to “deeply regret" the attack, which he said was “unauthorized, neither reviewed nor approved" by that body. Furious DU officials described the allegations as "false, malicious, derogatory, and unacceptable," and threatened a lawsuit against the air quality council. The counci] chairman has stated that "steps are being taken to make sure that [such abuses do not recur] in the future." But many observers believe that the only adequate step is to dismantle the existing structure and start over again with closer attention to the relevant federal law. Independence Institute asked Edwin Baker, a practicing scientist who is experienced in analyzing Colorado environmental policy, to review the controversy and make recommendations. Here is his report. 5g a Renewal or Replacement - Continued For the past four years, MAQC has served as the lead agency for air quality planning in the Denver area. The purpose of such an agency under the Clean Air Act originally was to assist in the development and/or revision of the state implementation plans (SIPs) for attaining and maintaining compliance with the EPA carbon monoxide and ozone ambient air quality standards. Although these plans were supposed to have been completed ten years ago, the Denver area still is without an approved SIP for carbon monoxide. DRCOG may not have carried out its initial charge as well as could have been expected, but apparently MAQC has not done any better. MAQC seems to have lost sight of its mandate, and rather has chosen to become an advocate of piecemeal control measures in its zeal to reduce already-low carbon monoxide (CO) levels in and around metro Denver. DRCOG has expressed a strong interest in resuming its role as the lead planning agency under the Clean Air Act, and accordingly has made a detailed proposal to the governor for replacing MAQC in this capacity. In addition, an intergovernmental agreement, serving the same purpose, has been drafted with assistance from the Gradu- ate School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado in Denver, which also helps to staff the existing MAQC. This paper, to avoid acronym overload, will refer to the three major options (in the order just mentioned) as Plan M, the status quo; Plan D, the Council of Governments proposal; and Plan I, the intergovernment agreement proposal. The objective is to compare the three plans and arrive at a recommendation as to which plan should represent the chosen alternative to lead Denver into the 1990s on a course to achieve compliance with all applicable air quality standards.