The power plants producing our electricity produce a large quantity of pollutants. Due to stringent laws and regulations (which we applaud!), many of the stronger pollutants have been decreased and the worst polluting plants that burn coal are being closed. Unfortunately, the newer natural gas burning plants still create a lot of the harmful pollutants that cause our brown cloud. A recent article from the Denver Post does a great job covering the top 20 pollution sources in the Denver area. The top 10 sources are all power plants. In the north Denver area, the Cherokee Generating Plant emits a wide variety of pollutants less than 5 miles from downtown.
Oil and Gas drilling, fracking, pumping, storage, and transport activities are some of the largest air pollution emitters on the front range of Colorado. Recent studies have shown these facilities are a large contributor to ozone formation especially in north Denver where they are responsible for up to 40% of the mix.
The Suncor Refinery is in a special category all of it's own emitting large quantities and a wide variety of some of the worst pollutants. It is actually refining Tar Sands Oil, one of the most toxic, water and energy-intensive types of oil, just outside of Denver and in the middle of the Gloveville-Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods. In fact, it ranks amongst the state's top emitters for almost every major air pollutant tracked by the EPA. Please help our friends at 350 Colorado and Friends of the Earth shut down the Suncor Refinery and remove one of our most toxic air-pollution sources in the state right here in our backyard.
While we don't tend to think about it, our cars are one of the bigger contributors to the local air pollution we breath every day. Even today's cars with all their pollution control equipment still manage to generate quite a bit of emissions since they still burning fossil fuels to operate. Cars and trucks are 30 to 40% of the source emissions causing ozone and a major cause of ozone-alert days. Switching to electric vehicles will eliminate these emissions.
The small engines powering our lawn equipment produce a very high amount of pollution for their size. It is estimated that during the summer, mowing equipment is contributing to almost 10% of our air pollution on summer days (73). These motors, owing to the fact that none have any pollution control devices emit very high amounts of pollution. See our comparison tables and see just how much a leaf blower or weed trimmer emits. It will surprise you. (See Lawn Equipment)