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Commerce City Residents Urge EPA to Reject Suncor Pollution Permit


Monday, February 21, 2022   

Commerce City residents living in the shadow of the Suncor refinery are calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to deny an emissions permit recently renewed by Colorado regulators.

Lucy Molina lives near the facility and is a Suncor neighborhood organizer with the group 350 Colorado. She said the EPA has an opportunity to finally hold industrial polluters accountable, and answer the calls from communities to protect their health.

"They make billions and I get cancer," said Molina. "We are the most polluted ZIP code in the nation. That is not something to be proud of. And it's time for the community to wake up, and fight back and protect the future of our children and the future of our planet."

Suncor has a long rap sheet with regulators. The EPA reported that the refinery has been in "significant violation" of the Clean Air and Water acts and federal toxic disposal laws for every quarter of the last three years.

Community members want the facility closed until Suncor can assure compliance and reduce emissions.

A Suncor representative said by email that the company is continuing to make improvements to reduce its environmental impact, and cares deeply about the communities surrounding the Commerce City refinery.

Environmental groups also are urging the EPA to reverse what they see as a decades-long injustice against the mostly Latino surrounding community. Molina is a single mother who said she would love to move her family far away from what she calls her "deadly neighbor."

"It's not as easy to just get up and go," said Molina. "I mean, I can't afford it either, you know what I mean? Just transitions need to begin in communities like ours that have carried the heavy and stinky burden of all these polluters for decades, really."

Communities of color in Colorado and across the U.S. disproportionately live near industrial polluters, largely because the tracts were the only places they could find housing due to redlining and other policies.

The EPA's Region 8 office has 45 days to review the permit's renewal after Colorado officials delivered the proposal on February 8.

Disclosure: 350 Colorado contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Environment, Environmental Justice, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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