DENVER — Colorado has taken the unusual step of inviting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to downgrade the air quality rating of the state’s biggest population center, and not everyone thinks that’s a good idea.

The EPA scheduled a hearing Friday on whether to lower the ozone status for Denver and eight other northern Colorado counties.

The agency acted after Democratic Gov. Jared Polis said Colorado would no longer ask for an exemption from EPA standards by claiming some of the pollution was drifting into the state from elsewhere.

He says it’s time to stop “sugar-coating” Colorado’s air problems.

But business groups say the state’s own data shows Colorado would meet EPA standards if not for out-of-state pollution.

They say lowering the rating would hurt the economy by increasing the cost of doing business.

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