Toxic air pollutants targeted in proposed bill from Colorado Democrats


Legislation would enact health-based emissions limits for polluters like Suncor.

A coalition of Colorado environmental and community groups on Monday unveiled the next step in a years-long effort to close what they say are gaps in federal regulation that have left low-income communities and people of color especially vulnerable to toxic air pollution.

Legislation set to be introduced by Democrats in the Colorado General Assembly this week will address so-called air toxics emitted by industrial pollution sources like the Suncor oil refinery in Commerce City, following up on previous legislation passed by lawmakers in 2020 and 2021.

“Communities of color and low-income communities that have disproportionately faced the impacts (of pollution) deserve better,” Lizeth Chacon, executive director of the Colorado People’s Alliance, said in a statement. “We need to work to ensure that we are prioritizing our health and safety and not the bottom line of corporations.”

Activists and lawmakers spoke at the state Capitol on Monday in support of a bill that sponsor Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, a Democrat from Denver, said would help create a “safe and healthy environment” for all Coloradans.

“I can’t tell you how many young people have had to miss school because of their issues with asthma and inability to just walk to school because of the air,” Gonzales-Gutierrez said. “Study after study has shown … that toxic pollution systemically and disproportionately harms people of color.”

House Bill 21-1189, passed by state legislators last year, required polluters like Suncor to conduct real-time, “fenceline” emissions monitoring and establish emergency notification systems to alert nearby communities of potentially hazardous incidents. The new legislation would go further, directing regulators at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to set health-based emissions limits and enact rules to enforce them.

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Colorado News Line, 15 February 2022