Archive for the ‘Auto Emissions Testing’ Category


Last Thursday the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) voted 5-1 to exclude the Estes Valley from the current Front Range auto emissions testing program.  Three commission members were absent.

Mr. Doug Decker from the Air Pollution Control Division described adding the Estes Park area as the “final expansion of the Northern Front Range program.”  He presented a model of air flows from July 2, 2007 to demonstrate that air from the Estes valley flows to the Front Range and therefore contributes to regional air quality problems.  Staff estimated that the program would reduce emissions by 36 tons per year.  Staff’s cost estimate was that the costs of the program would be about 15 percent higher than the program for the rest of Larimer County and the Front Range testing area.

Mr. Decker conceded that the cost estimates had originally been based on a shorter “crow flies” distance between Estes Park and the Loveland inspection station.  Still, Control Division staff did not propose any alternatives to fixed station testing, with the nearest testing station 35 miles or more by car from Estes Valley residents.    “One trip every two years is not unreasonable,”  said Mr. Decker, noting that many residents could combine that trip with shopping or other errands in the Front Range.

Mr. Decker also suggested that 22 to 25% of residents would be excused from fixed point testing due to road-side “clean screen” testing.  Staff arranged for mobile testing to occur in Estes Park prior to the hearing.  One Commissioner asked pointed questions about who funded clean screen testing in an area not yet subject to mandatory testing.

Questions from the Commission members suggested that they shared some of the same concerns as our local elected officials.  In March 2010, the boundaries for mandatory testing excluded much of rural Weld County due to the distance to testing stations and small number of vehicles that were excluded.

Commissioners also challenged the contention that they had already decided to include Estes Park in the testing area.  Senate Bill 09-003 directed the AQCC to consider exclusion of areas from testing based upon air quality control science, and the impact of testing upon the public.

During public comment, State Senator Kevin Lundberg directly challenged the contention that Estes Park was already included in the testing area.  He explained that SB 09-003 only included Estes Park as a potential testing area.  “It is up to you to decide.” said Senator Lundberg.  Senator Lundberg explained his own experience with emissions testing.  He sold a pickup to a Cheyenne buyer, knowing it would not pass emissions testing.  He then purchased a used Suburban and had to undergo four tests before it passed.  He urged the AQCC to make their decision “based on the people, not the sales pitch.”

Estes Park Mayor Pro Tem Chuck Levine and Trustee Mark Elrod both spoke against expanding the program to Estes Park.  Trustee Elrod described the animated model of air flows as a “form of entertainment.”  Mr. Decker later responded by explaining that the model was based upon meteorological data.

Lindsey Lamson of the Local Marketing District explained that their Board also opposed the expanded program.  “The costs of the program outweigh the minuscule benefit.”

Public comment overwhelmingly opposed expanding the program to Estes Park.  There were many telling comments.  The testing would be especially burdensome for working people who would need to miss work without pay to be tested.  Part-year residents would find it very difficult to comply when they were out of state.  One resident challenged the use of July 2nd as the model.  “July 2nd is the worst traffic in Estes Park.  Most of us locals stay home on the July 4th weekend.”  He also contended that a lot of part-year residents would simply register elsewhere.

One woman urged perspective.  The 75 parts per billion standard involves tiny amounts.  “One billion seconds is 32 years. It’s a matter of perspective and we’ve lost it.”

A local activist came to ask for emissions testing, then changed her mind.  “I want emissions testing and I want clean air,” she said.  But after hearing the public comments she decided to support the people in opposition to testing.

An editor of TeaLiberty.com presented official statistics demonstrating that Estes Park is very different from the Denver Metro area.  Staff’s cost-benefit analysis used Denver metro driving data to support its benefit estimates.  In the Estes Park zip code, 25.2% of residents are 65 years old or older.  The statewide figure is 10.9%, meaning Estes Park has over 14% more senior drivers than the rest of Colorado.  Federal Highway Administration data demonstrates that seniors drive only 57% as many miles as the average driver.  In addition, commuters in the Estes Park zip code have commutes of 16 minutes, versus the Denver metro mean of 24.5 minutes.  Even Estes Park’s working age population drives far fewer miles than the typical Denver metro resident.

County Commissioner Tom Donnelly then presented several arguments for excluding Estes Park from the testing area.  Commissioner Donnelly’s statistical information echoed many of the public comments about the uniqueness of Estes compared to the Front Range.  Commissioner Donnelly also explained the huge impact of tourist traffic on air quality during the summer.

Evelyn King of Citizens for Larimer and Weld County stressed that citizens do not object to programs that work.  “We were deceived” when the program first started in 2007, since tens of millions of dollars have been spent on auto testing yet ozone readings are higher today, not lower.  Ms. King submitted data demonstrating that the Front Range auto emissions testing program was expected to reduce ozone readings by 6/10ths of one percent.   Estes Park was estimated to provide just 4/100ths of one percent of the total expected NOx reductions.  “We thought the reductions for Larimer County were ridiculously small, but Estes Park is even worse,” said Ms. King.  “It can’t possibly be measured.”

Commissioner comments and questions followed from many of the public comments.  Commissioner John Loewy said “the Commission is a citizen overlay” intended to ensure that decisions are made by the citizenry rather than just a bureaucracy.  Some commissioners expressed the wish that staff had presented more alternatives for implementing the program in mountain communities.   There was some debate over whether the AQCC would have the existing authority to add Estes Park into the testing area in the future, or whether legislative action would be needed.

After some extended whispering among the commission members, the Commission adopted a motion to approve Larimer County and Estes Park’s suggested action:  remove Estes Park from the testing area boundaries.


Tealiberty.com thanks Estes Park Tea Party Patriot supporters and other local citizens who attended the hearing.  Public participation provided crucial support.  Special thanks are also due to County Commissioner Tom Donnelly, who presented on behalf of the County Commission and the Town of Estes Park, and Evelyn King, who gave a presentation on behalf of Citizens of Larimer and Weld County.  Several supporters of the citizens group came from Loveland and beyond to support the effort.  Public comment and attendance was crucial in supporting Commissioner Donnelly’s presentation.   Liberty groups should consider this a success for the movement toward government accountability and removing burdensome regulations that achieve little or no benefits.

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The hearing on auto emissions testing for the Estes area will be on Thursday, starting at 12:30 pm in the Town Board Room, Municipal Building, 130 MacGregor Ave., Estes Park.

Barack Obama gave up on more stringent ozone standards.  There are lots of reasons to conclude that imposing auto emissions testing in Estes Park will be more burdensome and costly to local residents with less benefit than from any previous Colorado testing area.  Learn more here:   http://www.eptrail.com/estes-park-columnists/ci_18853177

Let’s have a lot of liberty-minded folks turn out for the hearing.

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As of last Friday, there was no reply from the Governor’s office to Mayor Pinkham’s request. 


The Town of Estes Park wrote recently to Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper to object to indirect lobbying by state employees in favor of auto emissions testing for the Estes Valley.  Staff of the Air Pollution Control Division urged local auto mechanics to lobby the Air Quality Control Commision (AQCC) to adopt emissions testing for Estes at a September 15 Public Rulemaking Hearing.  Staff efforts also included offering local mechanics the first chance to enroll in state classes in emissions repair salesmanship with food and refreshments included.

After describing such efforts,  Estes Park Mayor William C. Pinkham politely states “we request state employees refrain from further outreach of this nature in Estes Park until the issue is decided in September.”  Mayor Pinkham’s letter also summarizes the reasons why the Town Board of Estes Park and the Larimer County Commissioners oppose emissions testing for the Estes valley.   The Mayor’s letter was prompted by Town Trustee Jerry Miller, who raised the issue at a July 12 Town Board meeting.

It appears that Air Pollution Control Division staff responded to the Mayor’s letter by implementing remote emissions testing in Estes Park before the rulemaking hearing.   Let’s hope that Governor Hickenlooper is as broadminded about the excessive costs of rural testing for auto emissions as he has been about the safety of fracking. 

TeaLiberty.com thanks our elected officials for objecting to Control Division’s effort to enlist “vested interests” in their efforts to cram down auto emissions testing in the High Country.   The Public Rulemaking Hearing will be held on September 15 at 12:30 pm in Estes Park’s Municipal Building.  State staff made up their minds a long time ago, but it remains for the AQCC to actually approve–or deny–rules implementing emissions testing for Estes Park.

Mayor Pinkham was recently appointed to the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission (“IEC”) as an unaffiliated member.    The IEC was created by the passage of statewide ballot Amendment 41  in 2006.

TeaLiberty.com  reproduces the text of Mayor Pinkham’s letter below:

TOWN OF ESTES PARK [letterhead]

August 2, 2011

John W. Hickenlooper, Governor
136 State Capitol
Denver, CO 80203-1792

Dear Governor Hickenlooper:

SUBJECT:  Air Pollution Control Division employee communications with Estes Park auto repair businesses

On behalf of the Estes Park Town Board of Trustees, I request your attention to a matter related to state-proposed vehicle emissions testing in Estes Park.  The Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) is considering implementing emissions testing for Estes Park in January of 2012.  In response, the Estes Park Town Board adopted a resolution on July 12 which opposes emissions testing in Estes Park.  In cooperation with Larimer County, the Town of Estes Park has requested party status at the September 15 hearing of the AQCC to decide on the matter.

The Town Board opposes emissions testing in Estes Park for the following reasons:  The relatively small number of resident vehicles in the area; the extensive number of tourist vehicles during the summer ozone season; the long distances to drive to the centralized test stations; and, the hardship of driving to the test stations for a uniquely older population demographic.

Since early May, employees from the Air Pollution Control Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment have promoted emissions diagnostics and repairs classes to Estes Park auto repair businesses—in person, by telephone and via email.  Town of Estes Park staff members have been copied on email communications which also encourage the auto repair businesses to take part in the local discussions on the matter, inferring that these businesses should speak in favor of emissions testing to the Town Board and the AQCC at its September hearing.

The Town Board finds these communications inappropriate given its stance on the issue of emissions testing in Estes Park.  Therefore, we request state employees refrain from further outreach of this nature in Estes Park until the issue is decided in September.




William C. Pinkham

cc:          Doug Decker, Air Pollution Control Division, CDPHE

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Folks in the liberty movement don’t always disagree with government.  Let’s give a tip of the tri-corner hat to the Town Board of the Town of Estes Park and the Larimer County Commissioners.  They’ve been persistently opposing the state’s expansion of air emissions testing to the Estes Valley.  Their efforts will be enhanced if local residents attend the hearing and explain how the program will specifically impact them.  There are many assumptions behind the program that do not apply to Estes Park.  For example, do local (non-commuting) retirees average 10,000 miles per year driving?  If so, how much of that driving is out-of-state?  If you are a part-year resident, do you even license a vehicle in Colorado?  Did you know that you could be forced into emissions testing even if you are licensed out-of-state?  If you own an older vehicle, can you afford to spend hundreds of dollars on repairs?   Is the Air Quality Control Commission aware of the multitudes of tourist vehicles that overwhelm the local traffic each summer?   

Here’s a Town press release that explains why the County and Town are opposing expansion of the program: 

 News – For immediate release

State to determine emissions testing for Estes Park at September 15 public hearing
Larimer County and Town of Estes Park to speak against the program

Larimer County and the Town of Estes Park are taking an official position on local vehicle emissions testing at a rulemaking hearing of the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) on September 15, 2011. The AQCC will consider whether the Estes Park area should be included in the Enhanced North Front Range Automobile and Maintenance (emissions testing) program beginning with January, 2012 registration renewals. Citizens are encouraged to attend and comment at the meeting, which will take place at 12:30 p.m. in the Town Board Room of Town Hall, 170 MacGregor Avenue. This is updated from the previously announced time of 9 a.m.

The AQCC will conduct other business at the start of the hearing, and the topic of emissions testing will likely begin around 1:30 p.m. with public comment around 2 p.m. Additional public comment may be taken if necessary around 5 p.m.

The Town of Estes Park and Larimer County requested that the hearing be held in Estes Park so that local citizens could more easily participate, whether they are in favor of or opposed to the emissions testing program. More information on the AQCC and the hearing is available at http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/op/aqcc/index.html. More information on the emissions testing program is available at http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/ap/mobile.html.

Larimer County and the Town of Estes Park have cited several reasons why Estes Park vehicles should not be included in the emissions testing program. These reasons relate to the relatively small number of resident vehicles in the area, the extensive number of tourist vehicles during the summer ozone season, the long distances to drive to the centralized test stations, and the hardship of driving to the test stations for a uniquely older population demographic.




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TeaLiberty.com has learned that the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division will undertake emissions testing in Estes Park next week–before the September 15 Rulemaking Hearing to consider emissions regulations governing the Estes Valley.

Emissions testing before the September 15 rulemaking hearing presents local residents with a regulatory fait accompli.  State staff informed the Town’s Public Information Officer that “clean screening vehicles now will reduce the inconvenience for our citizens if the program is enacted in January of 2012.”  There was no explanation of why the testing would be conducted prior to the Rulemaking Hearing, rather than during the three-and-a-half month period remaining in 2011 after the public hearing.

The testing is being conducted during a lull in the Estes Park tourist economy, which occurs between the start of public school and the Scottish-Irish Festival on Labor Day weekend.

Francophiles have long referred to such maneuvers as a fait accompli.  Due to a long history of military conflicts with France, many Germans merely refer to such actions as being vollendete Tatsache.  In Italy, known as the home of political author Machiavelli,  the phrase is fatto compiuto.  Here at TeaLiberty, some editors argued for the phrase regulatory fiat. 

Regardless of language, the State of Colorado is implementing auto emissions testing in Estes before the rulemaking hearing called to formally adopt the rules.  That, my friends, is putting the cart before the horse.

Estes Park was included in the initial expansion of auto emissions testing to Larimer and Weld Counties, then deferred to a later date due to objections about the costs versus benefits of expanding emissions testing to the Estes Valley.

The Air Quality Control Commission will hold the hearing at 12:30 pm, September 15 at Estes Park’s Municipal Town Hall Board Room, 170 MacGregor Avenue.  The requested deadline for submitting public written comments is at least 14 days prior to the hearing (September 1)–after the first round of emissions testing in Estes Park.  The public will also have a chance to comment at the hearing.

TeaLiberty.com reproduces below the information obtained by Town of Estes Park staff from the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division:

From: Kate Rusch
Sent: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 2:27 PM
To: Jacqueline Halburnt
Subject: Remote Sensing in Estes Park 8/29

The State’s Air Pollution Control Division has notified us that they have received a CDOT permit to put remote sensing “Rapid Screen” vans in and around Estes Park from Monday 8/29 through Thursday 9/1.  The purpose of beginning data collection is to be prepared in case the Air Quality Control Commission enacts the emissions testing requirements for Estes Park. If the program is enacted in January of 2012, the emissions data collected by the remote sensing vans will be processed by the state and transferred from the state to the county approximately 60 days in advance of renewal notice mailings.  The county processes the data and then generates renewal notice postcards to mail 35 days in advance of the renewal due date.

Data technicians will park the remote sensing vans along state highways in and around Estes Park.  The white box vans with blue “Rapid Screen” logos will be parked in a coned roadside area.  There is a data technician in the vehicle who captures license plates and ties them to emissions records.  This technician is not able to tell passersby if their vehicle passed the emissions test as they do not have immediate access to the results.

Weather permitting, here are the locations of the vans for 8/29-9/1:


Registration renewal postcards will display one of three messages regarding emissions:

1.       Emissions test required (Did not “clean screen” or was not captured by a Rapid Screen van; must visit a testing site in the valley)

2.       Emissions test not required  (vehicles 4 years and newer)

3.       Passed roadside emissions test  (clean screen)

It was explained to me that clean screening vehicles now will reduce the inconvenience for our citizens if the program is enacted in January of 2012. The state provided the attached document explain how remote sensing works; a photo of the van operation is included on page 5.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Kate Rusch
Public Information Officer
Town of Estes Park
P.O. Box 1200
Estes Park, CO 80517

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Colorado’s auto emissions testing program is expensive for state residents as a whole, but can be lucrative for auto mechanics. In case mechanics don’t know that, the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment sponsors a class to educate mechanics on how to sell the auto emissions program to customers. According to the course description, “sales script examples of each type of service will be provided.” CDPHE also gave Estes area mechanics the first chance to enroll in the sales class in an effort to encourage their participation.

TeaLiberty.com has already described how CDPHE urged auto mechanics to become interested parties in the rulemaking hearing scheduled for September 15, 2011 at 9 am at Estes Park’s municipal building.

A Better Option

Emissions inspection stations do nothing to directly reduce auto emissions.  In fact, requiring Estes Park area residents to travel to Loveland, Ft. Collins or Greeley for testing can only increase emissions.

The proposed rules claim to be fair, but arbitrarily impose testing on some, but not others.  For example, the proposed rules exempt “classic cars,” which are defined as vehicles 25 years or older. Such vehicles are necessarily high emitters, due to later improvements in technology.

Colorado is imposing tens of millions of dollars of costs on drivers when a tiny percentage of light-duty vehicles account for most of the emissions. The only way to decrease emissions is to repair high-emitting vehicles or remove them from the roads.

Since testing does not in any way reduce emissions, it should be done at the lowest cost and in the most efficient manner to identify high-emitting vehicles. In 2002, Professor Donald H. Steadman of the University of Denver proposed that remote testing replace the current program. Estes Park would be a good pilot area for a transition away from fixed testing stations.

The CDPHE apparently wants to sell the current program, with its focus on fixed inspection stations, rather than move to a more efficient testing program.  The Larimer County Commissioners and the Town Board of Estes Park are both opposing expansion of the current emissions testing program to Estes Park.

TeaLiberty.com provides the full course description below, as contained in a CDPHE e-mail. Other courses described in the e-mail focus on how to diagnose the causes of emissions test failure.

Subject: Emissions Classes
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2011 11:41:51 -0600
From: [redacted by TeaLiberty] @dphe.state.co.us
To: [12 Estes area auto garages]
CC: [redacted by TeaLiberty] @dphe.state.co.us; [redacted by TeaLiberty]@dphe.state.co.us; [redacted by TeaLiberty]@dphe.state.co.us; [redacted by TeaLiberty]@dphe.state.co.us; [redacted by TeaLiberty]@dphe.state.co.us

Hello to All Estes Park shops and technicians! The following is advance notification of our upcoming emissions classes. We’re giving you first crack at these classes, so if you’d like to attend any of them, please RSVP to me at the phone # listed below.

Thanks, [redacted by TeaLiberty]
Administrative Specialist
Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment
Ft. Collins Emissions Technical Center
970-[redacted by TeaLiberty]

Emissions Classes

We’re starting a new round of training classes and we’re adding two new classes to the list. Course descriptions are below. Class dates, times, costs are as follows: [….]

Seats are limited. If interested in taking any or all classes, please RSVP to [redacted by TeaLiberty] (please do not reply using email). Food and drink provided at all classes. …

[TeaLiberty is only reprinting the relevant course description]:

NFR-601 Communicating IM240 Service for Service Consultants 4 hrs.

With many technicians now able to effectively diagnose and repair IM240 failures, it is important that the person communicating directly with the vehicle owner fully understands the IM240 program and is in lock step with their technician when communicating the repairs needed to return the vehicle to proper operating condition. This course will focus on the requirements of IM240 and the technical details that you need to be able to convey to your customer. Sales script examples of each type of service will be provided. This class is for anyone in the shop that communicates with the vehicle owner regarding IM240 repairs.

Pre-requisites: None, but IM240 diagnosis experience strongly recommended


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A state employee is lobbying local auto mechanics to call for more emissions testing in the Estes Valley.  TeaLiberty.com is the first to report the text of an e-mail sent by a state employee to Estes area auto mechanics.

In an e-mail dated June 10, a state employee urges Estes Park area auto repair shops to attend a September 15 public rulemaking hearing on
expanding the area for emissions testing to include the Estes Valley.  The e-mail told its recipients that “as business owners with a vested interest in
automobiles and the people in the Estes Valley, the Air Commissioners would like to hear what you think.” (emphasis added).

The e-mail encourages auto mechanics to seek formal party status for the hearing.  Members of the public will be limited to three minutes of comments each.  Party status would give auto mechanics a chance to make a longer formal presentation to the Air Quality Control Commission.  The rulemaking hearing will consider whether to change the boundaries for auto emission testing in Larimer County.

The state employee also offered auto mechanics a two-hour meeting with food and refreshments to coach them as to the public rulemaking process.

Under the proposed changes, all homes in the Estes area accessible from Highways, 7, 34 and 36 will be required to submit to auto emissions testing.  In theory, the Glen Haven area will be excluded.  But the new testing requirement will apply not just to vehicles registered in Colorado, but to “all vehicles registered or primarily operated in the program area.” (emphasis in original).  That’s according to a one-page FAQ flyer distributed by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment.  Thus a Glen Haven resident working in Estes Park could be ticketed for failing to obtain an emissions test.  It remains to be seen how the proposed rules will be applied to part-year residents who register their vehicles out-of-state.

The proposal will require Estes area residents to test their autos at fixed testing stations.  The nearest testing station will be at 70th Avenue and Highway 287 in north Loveland.  The current proposal does not allow for remote testing as an alternative.

On July 11, chemistry professor Donald Steadman of the University of Denver explained why the current emissions testing program is failing.  Steadman and his colleagues at the Fuel Efficiency Aut0mobile Test Data Center have researched auto emissions since 1987.  According to the FEAT Data Center, mobile sensors can test up to 2,000 autos per hour, and are the most cost-effective means of emissions testing.  In April, the Denver Post reported that the state of Colorado was inflating the reported failure rate for emissions testing.

The emissions test will cost $25 every two years.  Any vehicle that fails will require repairs in a private auto shop and a confirming test.  Auto mechanics therefore have an interest in mandatory testing.  Registration fees for all autos will also increase by $2.20 per year to fund the program.

On July 12, the Town Board of Estes Park adopted a resolution opposing expansion of auto emissions testing to the Estes Valley.   At that time, Town Trustee Jerry Miller objected to a state employee lobbying auto mechanics to testify at the September 16 hearing.  The Larimer County Board of Commissioners also opposes the proposed rules.

Here is the full text of the e-mail (with e-mail addresses redacted):

From:    [Doug Decker]

To:         [10 Estes area auto repair shops]

Dear Estes Park Auto Repair Industry Members:

Thanks to each of you for meeting with me unannounced in the past month regarding the potential for emissions testing requirements coming to Estes Park. The primary reason for this email is to provide you with a printed fact sheet/FAQ for your business and your customers. This fact sheet is attached. Feel free to copy it and make it available as you see fit. There’s a Larimer County Program map there too. Not very good detail for Estes Park, but I’m working on a better map for you.

My second reason for writing is to reiterate that the final decision on emissions for Estes Park residents has not yet been made.  There will be a public rulemaking hearing held on September 15, 2011, by the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission to decide if and how to proceed.  This is a public hearing and as business owners with a vested interest in automobiles and the people in the Estes Valley, the Air Commissioners would like to hear what you think. I would encourage you to talk with your fellow auto repair professionals and consider requesting party status as a team approach when presenting to the commission at the hearing, but that is your choice.  I will advise you by email when the hearing notice is posted.

Finally, I still intend to hold a small meeting some evening for just this group of us, for you to better understand both the emissions inspection program and how the hearing process will unfold. This will be an informal meeting of about two hours, somewhere in Estes Park. The goal of this meeting will be to make you better able to answer your customer’s questions and to prepare your business for what is coming.  I pledge to you that I will not waste your time and
this won’t cost you anything but a couple of hours in an evening.  I have chairs, a projector and screen, and sandwiches/refreshments, if somebody can
find room for 12 or 15 of us in their shop…

I will continue to be in touch as things progress and you will be hearing about technical training on diagnosis and repair classes in the late July timeframe, as well.

Call me or send me an email if you have questions.

Doug Decker
Air Pollution Control Division
CO Dept. of Public Health and Environment
(303)   [redacted]


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