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Air pollution control in Denver is a metropolitan problem requiring a metropolitan approach. Pollutants emitted in one part of the metropolitan area are transported by the localized airflow to affect most communities in the area. Naturally, pollution is concentrated more over some communities than over others. While all areas contribute to air pollution to at least some degree, there is little relation between the location of the source and the area of maximum concentration.
Denver, the core city, covering approximately 87 square miles, is surrounded by nearly 50 square miles of incorporated and unincorporated urbanized area in three counties. The latest publication of the Intercounty Regional Planning Commission indicates that the urbanized area is expected to increase by a third, by 1970, to 170 square miles.
Within the present 135 square miles, 930,000 people live and work. The population is expected to increase a third by 1970, to 1,200,000, and industrial growth is expected to keep pace with the population growth.
The rate of increase of car and truck registration has been greater than the population growth and is expected to increase from over 400,000 in 1960, to over 800,000 by 1970. All of these growth factors will add to the air pollutants to be dissipated by the already overburdened air over the metropolitan area.
For many years, Denver conducted a smoke abatement program under the mechanical inspection department. In 1958, one inspector was assigned full time to smoke abatement. During 1961, two inspectors and an engineer were added to the staff. While emphasis has been on smoke abatement, the staff has cooperated in several studies of the intensity and movement of air pollution in the Denver area.
Denver, since it is the core city, at least in my opinion, has the responsibility of taking the lead in solving the problem. Since air pollution recognizes no political or physical barriers, we also must ignore these barriers in seeking a solution. Denver stands willing to cooperate with our metropolitan neighbors and will work with them on studies to gather information and, ultimately, to solve the air pollution problem on a permanent basis.
The U.S. Public Health Service has furnished sampling equipment and technical advice for many of the studies of air pollution in the Denver area.
“The Denver Air Pollution Problem" summarized the results of survey of the air pollution potential made by the U.S. Public Health Service during the winter of 1956–57.
Again, the Public Health Service, Division of Air Pollution, provided equipment and technical advice for the “Denver Metropolitan Area Air Sampling Survey,” a cooperative effort conducted by the “Denver Metropolitan Air Pollution Study Group," during the winter of 1960–61.
During the winter of 1961–62, the Technical Assistance Branch of the Division of Air Pollution and the Meteorology Section of the Taft Sanitary Engineering Center provided sampling and meteorological instruments for a small-scale study under the direction of the Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University. The results of this study were reported in “A Study of Denvar Air Pollution." These studies helped to show the intensity and motion of air pollution in the Denver area.
The “Denver Metropolitan Area Air Pollution Emission Inventory, a cooperative report completed in 1963 under the direction of the air pollution engineer of the building inspection department, city and county of Denver, points out the areas for further investigation.
The present air sampling program of the Colorado State Department of Public Health is much more extensive than past studies and is expected to confirm in more detail the results of earlier studies in the Denver area.
The Clean Air Act recently signed into law should help to encourage air pollution control. The most helpful provisions for the Denver area are:
Section 2, which encourages cooperative activities and uniform laws;
Section 4, which provides grants for support of and improvement of local air pollution control programs; and
Section 6, which provides encouragement for continued effort to find a solution for control of pollutants discharged from automobiles.
Denver is working with all possible speed to obtain the necessary disposal area to provide sanitary landfill for all refuse. This is urgently needed to eliminate the present burning dump near the Stapleton airport, which is used to dispose of certain combustible materials from the metropolitan area. This dump is a source of air pollution, a hazard to air safety, and a source of poor public relations, as I well know.
We wholeheartedly support the pending State air pollution legislation as amended. While this bill does not give the State enforcement powers, it permits cities and counties to establish air pollution control regulations.
Denver will work cooperatively with other jurisdictions in drafting a uniform air pollution control ordinance. Under the pending State legislation, enforcement would remain with each local jurisdiction. This should be only the first step toward uniform air pollution controls.
Past studies have shown that an air pollution problem exists in the Denver metropolitan area. Now is the time for effective, reasonable, uniform controls, and action.
Senator Muskie. Thank you, Mayor Currigan. You emphasized in your statement the need for cooperative action by the communities in the Denver metropolitan area. Is there any resistance to that kind of action in dealing with this problem?
Mayor CURRIGAN. I have not come across it, Senator Muskie. This has come up unofficially. There is a duly constituted body in the Denver metropolitan area created by State legislation called the intercounty regional planning commission, of which I happen to be a member of the executive committee. This has been very lightly discussed, but I am sure that we are in complete accord on the subject. I have discussed this on a personal basis with a number of urban mayors and I find the same sentiment exists. In fact, about 2 weeks or so ago the mavor of Littleton, which is one of the small communities—not too small—that is an adjacent neighbor of ours, of Denver. The mayor of this community, Mayor Tom Heaton, came to me and we discussed this very situation, air pollution, and I thought that he came up with an idea that certainly has much merit. We have notI say "we"-neither Mayor Heaton of Littleton nor I have had the occasion or opportunity yet to look further into this, but in general the idea that came from our joint meeting was that if all of the incorpo. rated areas of the Denver metropolitan area were to get together on one uniform model air pollution ordinance and the respective city councils of the respective communities, assuming they would agree and pass this legislation, that this would be a big, big step in the right direction, where all of the incorporated areas, at least, would have one and the same model ordinance on this subject.
He suggested possibly even another step which I think has much merit, at this point anyway, and that was that perhaps many of these smaller communities, Littleton might not be one of them, but there are other smaller communities, such as Edgewater, that it might not be economically feasible for them to hire a full-time air pollution engineer to work in the enforcement field once we have a model ordinance throughout the entire metropolitan area, and he suggested that perhaps not only his own community but perhaps others might, if we were so willing, meaning Denver, to contract out, since we are the core city, we would undoubtedly have a substantial staff, a professional staff of this caliber, that they might be willing to contract out and make a contractual agreement with the city and county of Denver to provide enforcement even in their community. I think, as I say, this has not been really researched out, but I think the core city might well provide a very real service.
Obviously, we would have to be properly compensated, but I do not believe this would be a problem, and I think this would also have a real effect and something that we are very much concerned with here, and that is a metropolitan approach to our metropolitan problems, air pollution just being one.
Senator MUSKIE. Do you have authority now, do communities have authority under State law now to contract with each other for the services of each other?
Mayor CURRIGAN. I believe so.
Senator MUSKIE. I think this has been a growing trend that is most encouraging to me in my State. We have legislation, which is fairly new, permitting communities to enter into cooperative arrangements of this kind. I think it is a desirable alternative to investing everything into a central State government, if you can avoid it.
Mayor CURRIGAN. I think it has much merit to it. Your local communities are able to retain their sphere of jurisdiction, and from an economical standpoint, by contracting out to someone who is in a better position to provide a better service, this ends up, I think, to the mutual benefit of both parties.
Senator MUSKIE. It should be cheaper.
Senator MUSKIE. Do you now have sufficient authority to put into effect a uniform municipal code dealing with air pollution if you should get agreement from all of the jurisdictions in the metropolitan area that such a code would be desirable?
Mavor (TRRIGAV. It is my belief-again I will not pretend to be any expert in the field—but I believe that we do. Of course, in each a rea or each community, from our smaller neighbors to our larger neighbors, it would be up to their respective councils, as it would be here in Denver, to enact the legislation, but if the council of the community of Littleton enacted the same ordinance that our city council did, I can see no possible conflict with any existing piece of legislation.
Senator MUSKIE. I have before me two documents which appear to be sections of your local ordinances here in Denver, one dealing with fireplaces, barbecues, incinerators, and crematories. Is this the Denver ordinance, do you know?
Mayor CURRIGAN. Yes; this is our current ordinance. It is my understanding from Mr. Dobler here, who is much better informed. of course, on the subject than I, that this ordinance probably will be “beefed up" in the relatively near future, and we are very hopeful that the present legislation pending before the State legislature on air pollution will be enacted, and if this is enacted we hope to use that as a springboard in our local ordinance and tighten this up, and I hope it would be a more effective piece of local legislation.
Senator MuskIE. Then you have also appendix A, article 762 of the revised municipal code dealing with control of smoke and other emissions pertaining to air pollution.
Mayor CURRIGAN. That is correct, Senator.
Senator MUSKIE. I think we will include both exhibits in the appendix of today's hearing record. They might be useful to other cities.
So that in general you have sufficient authority to deal with the air pollution problem now?
Mayor CURRIGAN. Well, of course, if we should go along on a basis of each individual community and if we can all get together. I am very hopeful that we can.
Senator MUSKIE. Could you, for example, yourselves enact into ordinances the standards, the air-quality standards, which are now being considered by the legislature; could you enact those into law here for the Denver area if you could get agreement among the various communities?
Mayor CURRIGAN. Len, you are much more familiar with it than I. What is your position? You are so much closer to it than I.
Mr. DOBLER. I think we could. I don't believe under the pending law we would have to actually write these into our city ordinance because they would be a State law and would be enforced by the city without being enacted within the city code.
Senator MUSKIE. You mean that is the situation now or that will be the situation if the legislature acts?
Mr. DOBLER. If the legislature acts favorably on the bill I think it would be the situation, anyway, because through the city health department they can enforce the regulation, but, of course, if there is no State regulation then the city would have to pass these before they would be enforcible.
Senator MUSKIE. The question I wanted an answer to is this: If the legislature doesn't act so that the standards which we discussed earlier this morning are not made part of the State law, is it possible, do you have authority to enact such standards as part of your code here in Denver ?
Mr. DOBLER. My understanding is the city council definitely has that power as a home-rule city.
Senator MUSKIE. Are your powers in this respect different and greater than those of the other communities in the metropolitan area?
Mr. DOBLER. Yes. The other municipalities have certain authorities delegated by law and the counties in the matters of air pollution have essentially no authority under existing law.
Senator MUSKIE. So that for them to act in order to get a uniform ordinance dealing with standards you do need this legislation by the legislature! Mr. DOBLER. This is correct.
Mayor CURRIGAN. And there is a distinction that some of these communities are home ruled. Denver is a home-rule city, and, generally speaking, on matters affecting Denver we have the same authority that the State legislature has on State matters at the State level. But not all communities surrounding Denver are home-rule cities. Also, it should be noted that not all of the area surrounding Denver is incorporated, and, in fact, the very heavily populated area immediately west of Denver is not incorporated, and thus you get into a county situation where I am guessing that it would definitely require some State legislation.
Senator MUSKIE. Unincorporated areas, then, are ruled by the county?
Mayor CURRIGAN. Yes.
Senator MUSKIE. Is Denver the only home-rule city in the State or are there others?
Mayor CURRIGAN. There are quite a few others, and there are some that are immediately surrounding us, but there are some non-homerule cities that also immediately surround us.
Senator Muskie. Air pollution isn't the only metropolitan area problem that you have, I am sure.
Mayor CURRIGAN. Unfortunately, no.
Senator MUSKIE. Is some consideration being given to creating governmental authorities and agencies to more effectively deal with metropolitanwide problems?
Mayor CURRIGAN. We are working on this. In fact, this is what really was one of the main purposes of this intercounty regional planning commission that was formed several years ago, and now we have an urban mayors association, and I know that there are three surrounding counties here that are governed by three county commissioners each, and in the relatively few months that I have been the mayor of this city we have met on numerous occasions with the county commissioners. There has been, unfortunately, built up over a number of years some barriers, some real and some not so real, but I am very hopeful with the atmosphere and the attitude that prevails today our chances of solving metropolitan problems on a metropolitan basis are much closer to reality today than they were some time ago.
Senator MUSKIE. It strikes me that you have a problem, though, in this respect. You have a cooperative attitude but you don't have all of the authority that you need to implement that cooperative attitude.
Mayor CURRIGAN. Yes.
Senator MUSKIE. Isn't something going to have to be done about increasing the authorities of these other jurisdictions?