Bill that would improve air-pollution monitoring at Suncor refinery passed by House

By: - May 20, 2021 5:19 pm

The Suncor oil refinery, located just north of Denver city limits, is one of the region’s largest sources of toxic air pollution. (Chase Woodruff/Colorado Newsline)

The Colorado House of Representatives on Thursday approved a bill aimed at better monitoring toxic air pollution emitted by facilities like Commerce City’s Suncor oil refinery, advancing the legislation to the state Senate.

Democrats in the lower chamber passed House Bill 21-1189 on a 40-23, party-line vote. The legislation would require facilities that meet emissions thresholds for certain toxic pollutants, including benzene and hydrogen cyanide, to conduct real-time “fenceline” monitoring of their emissions, release the data on a publicly accessible website and improve their communication with nearby communities.

“Time after time we’ve seen facilities try to conceal or alter the air quality and toxic emissions data they release — we’re going to ensure we have reliable data and hold facilities accountable,” state Rep. Alex Valdez, a Democrat from Denver and lead sponsor of the bill, said in a press release. “Air toxins cause cancer, reproductive health issues, ecological disasters, and when facilities violate the limits, they’ll be required to notify communities and take corrective action quickly.”

“Corporate polluters don’t care about my community’s well being,” Cindy Rivera, a Commerce City resident and member of activist group Colorado People’s Alliance, said in a statement. “HB21-1189 is an opportunity for our elected officials to do more to bring transparency and regulate the horrible emissions being released by corporations.”

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Chase Woodruff
Chase Woodruff

Chase Woodruff is a senior reporter for Colorado Newsline. His beats include the environment, money in politics, and the economy.