Bill to establish health based standards for toxic pollution in CO signed into law
Today, in the West Foyer of the Colorado State Capitol, Governor Polis signed HB22-1244 (Public Protections From Toxic Air Contaminants) into law. HB22-1244 takes major steps toward protecting Coloradans’ health by requiring action to reduce emissions of toxic industrial pollutants.
The bill was backed by a broad coalition of community, public health, local government, and environmental groups. It was sponsored by Representatives Chris Kennedy and Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, as well as Senator Julie Gonzales. Read the final version of the bill. (Read a summary of the bill as passed.)
This bill directs the state to establish state-level public reporting of toxic emissions from industrial facilities across Colorado and significantly strengthen monitoring of air toxics, particularly in disproportionately impacted communities. HB22-1244 also directs the state to identify “priority” toxics by rule. For these priority toxics, the state must adopt control regulations to reduce harmful emissions and establish health-based ambient air quality standards to address the health impacts on Colorado communities.
“HB22-1244 is a critical step in ensuring that Coloradans have clean air to breathe that isn’t harming our health,” said Sabrina Pacha, director of Healthy Air and Water Colorado. “Health researchers have been sounding the alarm for years that toxic emissions lead to asthma complications, chronic lung disease, cancer, and numerous other conditions, and the health based standards in this bill will make a significant improvement in the health of people across the state.
“Because of histories of racism, and, now, gentrification, those living closest to polluting industries are mostly low income working families and people of color, and historically disenfranchised groups,” said Camila Restrepo, member of Colorado People’s Alliance. “And when the most marginalized people in our communities are left behind we collectively carry the burden of their lost and compromised futures. The passage of HB22-1244 is another stepping stone for our communities that will have an impact on all of us.”
“Over the past year, Colorado has experienced some of the worst air quality in the world driven by ozone pollution, forest fires, oil and gas development, and transportation emissions. For years Latinos have been breathing some of the worst air pollution in the nation and have been demanding action to address toxic air pollutants caused from other industrial sites and the cumulative effects of historical environmental racism in our state,” said Beatriz Soto, Protégete director. “Thankfully, HB22-1244 provides a monumental win for ALL communities across the state — this bill will empower the state to protect our health through better monitoring and control of toxic pollutants from these industrial polluters.”
“This is decades in the making, our elders and ancestors fought for the Clean Air Act in 1970,” said Ean Thomas Tafoya, CO state director of GreenLatinos. “Unfortunately, the work to regulate toxins wasn’t finished then and today, after 5 years of advocacy the people of Colorado are saying loud and clear — we have a right to clean air! Congratulations to the coalition that built power to get this done!”
“This bill moves us one step closer to a future where everyone in Colorado — regardless of what we look like or where we live — can breathe healthy, clean air,” said Tom Abood, community leader with the Together Colorado Climate Justice Committee. “We also know there is much more work to do, and we are committed to continue organizing in our faith communities toward environmental justice in Colorado.”
“This is a historic day in the fight to clean up Colorado’s air and improve the health of communities impacted by toxic pollution across the state,” said Rebecca Curry, Colorado policy counsel at Earthjustice. “But our work is not done with this bill signing. The true impact of HB22-1244 will be measured in its implementation, and it is incumbent upon all of us to keep the pressure on to hold industry accountable for its toxic air pollution.”
Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.