At a Capitol press conference today, lawmakers and environmental justice advocates expressed support for the Public Protections From Toxic Air Contaminants Act that will help ensure Coloradans have clean, healthy air to breathe no matter where they live or how much they earn.
Coloradans don’t have the strong protections they need from toxic pollutants like benzene and formaldehyde that corporate polluters are pumping into our air, especially in communities of color. The Public Protections From Toxic Air Contaminants Act will put corporations on notice that polluting our air and endangering our health is no longer an option.
The bill will direct the state to establish health-based air quality standards for air toxics, protecting the health of industrial workers, communities of color, and working families. It will provide an opportunity for the state to ensure that corporations can no longer jeopardize our air quality and health by:
- Limiting toxic emissions based on science when permitting facilities
- Looking at cumulative impacts of air pollution from more than one facility
- Strengthening ongoing monitoring and reporting of hazardous air pollution
- Clarifying that Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment may regulate air more stringently than the Environmental Protection Agency
“Toxic air pollutants emitted from Colorado industrial facilities put workers and our community at risk of cancer and serious health impacts, such as difficulty breathing, nausea, birth defects, or even death, said Lizeth Chacon, executive director for Colorado People’s Alliance (COPA). “Communities of color and low-income communities that have disproportionately faced the impacts from these corporations deserve better, so we need to work to ensure that we are prioritizing our health and safety and not the bottom line of corporations. It’s time for us to eliminate pollution hot spots by putting people’s health first.”
“Colorado has fallen far behind other states in addressing toxic air pollutants that hurt communities throughout the state, particularly low-income communities and communities of color,” said Becca Curry, policy counsel for Earthjustice’s Rocky Mountain office. “By passing this bill, the legislature can send a strong signal to the residents of this state that their health and well-being comes first. It should be a no-brainer that corporations be required to report their toxic emissions and get them under control if they are harming people who live near these facilities.”
“Workers, people of color, and low-income communities are disproportionately impacted by working in and/or living near air toxics hot spots. Pueblo area residents experience increased rates of asthma, COPD, and cardiovascular disease compared to state averages but we need the ambient air quality data to better understand the connections between these health impacts and the air pollution in our community,” said Jaime Valdez, community organizer for Mothers Out Front. “Growing up in Pueblo, I suffered from childhood asthma and now so does my grandson. It’s distressing every time I see him coughing and struggling to catch his breath with his little face turning red while we’re out riding bikes or playing catch in the yard.”
Despite passing HB 20-1265 and HB 21-1189 requiring four facilities to conduct real-time fenceline monitoring of at least three air toxics and to notify communities when spikes in pollution occur, more action is needed to meaningfully reduce toxic pollution and protect community health.
The Air Toxics Coalition is supported by: Colorado People’s Alliance (COPA), Earthjustice, Conservation Colorado, Healthy Air & Water Colorado, 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.