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May 11, 2022

Colorado’s Public Protections From Toxic Air Contaminants Act on Its Way to Governor’s Desk

Victory: Community and elected officials celebrate the passage of HB22-1244

Contacts

Angelica Prisciliano, (720) 203-1076, angelica@coloradopeoplesalliance.org

Perry Wheeler, (202) 792-6211, pwheeler@earthjustice.org

Garrett Wells, (321) 536-6019, garrett@conservationco.org

Denver, CO

The passage of HB22-1244 creates real progress toward prioritizing the health of communities impacted by air toxins. This is a huge victory for communities who have been impacted by air toxins for far too long.

“I used to drive past the Suncor facility every day for work, and you didn't need precise scientific equipment to realize something was seriously wrong with the air quality there,” said Dylan Mori, member of Colorado People’s Alliance (COPA). “Just smelling it was enough. Year after year this problem persists. It's bad enough to have to deal with worsening air during the summer from wildfires without industries in our community contributing to the problem. HB22-1244 makes sure that the toxins that are known to cause damage to human health, including cancer, are properly restricted, it ensures our health and wellbeing is prioritized.”

“Colorado’s air has become so bad,” said Farida Contractor, a Conservation Colorado member in Thornton. “We don’t even know what particles are in our air, but they can get into our lungs. I am prone to asthma, and when we have bad air quality days, I cannot go outside or even open the windows. If I do, I’ll start feeling congested, getting nosebleeds, and it only gets worse. When we had record ozone pollution and wildfire smoke last summer, I was scared to even go out for a walk, even though exercising is essential for my health. Between COVID-19 and air pollution, I felt trapped. HB22-1244 creates a comprehensive program to monitor toxic air pollution and protect our health.”

“The Public Protections From Toxic Air Contaminant Act will put corporations on notice that polluting our air and endangering our health is no longer an option,” said Lizeth Chacon with Colorado People’s Alliance (COPA). “We are excited for the passage of HB22-1244, this is a huge victory for our community, especially communities of color and low-income communities that have been disproportionately impacted by toxic pollutants for far too long.”

“This is a victory for the people of Colorado, representing a significant step forward in our ability to meaningfully address the harmful impacts of toxic exposure,” said Becca Curry, Colorado policy counsel with Earthjustice. “By reducing air toxins, communities across the state — who have been fighting toxic pollution for years — will have cleaner air to breathe and healthier futures. Now it is up to our state agencies to enforce this law and hold our polluters accountable.”

“Five years in the making,” said Ean Thomas Tafoya, Colorado state director with GreenLatinos. “Thank you to the sponsors and advocates. All across the state of Colorado people have been calling out to take on toxics. We traveled to 16 cities in April and we are certain people will remain engaged to ensure we do the most to reign in toxic pollution over the coming years.”

“Every Coloradan deserves safe and healthy air to breathe, but too many of us — especially in low-income communities and communities of color — are exposed to deadly emissions from polluters that spew chemicals into our air,” said Senator Julie Gonzales. “This legislation both empowers our state to ensure the health and safety of Coloradans and holds corporations accountable for their pollution. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Governor to get this policy signed into law.”

“Some of our most disproportionately impacted communities, my neighbors, are breathing in Colorado’s most polluted air,” said Representative Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez. “This bill improves the way we monitor air toxics in Colorado and takes a proactive approach to reduce these harmful emissions based on what is best for our health. Latino communities in Colorado are adversely impacted by poor air quality, one in three Latino children has asthma — this is our reality. Ongoing exposure to air toxics takes a devastating toll on our health and this bill protects vulnerable Coloradans and improves the air we all breathe.”

“With some of the worst air quality in the country, Colorado needs a better understanding of where our toxic emissions are coming from and how we can reduce them,” said Representative Chris Kennedy. “This bill is personal – ethylene oxide emitted by a manufacturer in my community is potentially increasing the risk of cancer for my constituents. Our bill identifies these hazardous air toxics based on their health impacts and empowers Colorado’s air quality experts to require polluters to clean up their act.”

What does HB22-1244 do?

This bill will empower Colorado to regulate air toxics more stringently than the federal government. It established the Colorado Air Toxics Program and will spur meaningful reductions of toxic pollution across our state. Specifically, the bill will:

  • Establish annual state-level and publicly-available reporting of toxic emissions from sources across the state
  • Significantly strengthen monitoring of air toxics, prioritizing monitoring in disproportionately impacted communities with the greatest risk of health impacts from exposure to hazardous air pollution
  • Direct the state to identify “priority” toxics of concern in by rule, based on input from the public
  • Direct the the state to set protective health-based air quality standards for each “priority” toxic identified, represented as benchmark concentrations in the ambient air
  • Require rulemakings to adopt control regulations to reduce levels of the “priority” toxics, which can include but are not limited to emissions limitations, technology upgrades, and practice standards, and
  • Require a study to assess the state’s needs to consider toxics in permit decision-making.

The Air Toxics Coalition is supported by: Colorado People’s Alliance (COPA), Earthjustice, Conservation Colorado, Healthy Air & Water Colorado, the League of Oil and Gas Impacted Coloradans (LOGIC), WildEarth Guardians, Green Latinos, Western Resource Advocates, Mothers Out Front, Together Colorado, Colorado Latino Forum, Moms Clean Air Force Colorado Chapter, Colorado Sierra Club, Cultivando and Colorado Mountain Mamas.

Additional Resources

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