Written by: Kim Osborn Mullen
A petition drive to shut down Suncor Energy Refinery kicked off last month with 350 Metro Denver volunteers and allies providing outreach to communities near the refinery in Commerce City, just North of Denver.
350 Metro Denver activist Sunni Benoit, noted the Suncor location near Sand Creek and South Platte River, is very close to primarily working-class communities who are 80% Latinx. These neighborhoods have been bombarded with polluting industries for decades including soil remediation from contamination at the Asarco Plant in Globeville.
The canvass has been well received said Benoit, “we focused on education and on the impacts of the refinery on those neighborhoods. The biggest surprise was how many people did not realize there was an oil refinery nearby.” In addition, many residents do not have internet service limiting access to information.
The petition drive began because the refinery is a heavy contributor to air pollution in Colorado’s Front Range and has repeatedly violated its air pollution permits. The Denver Post reported Suncor releases 866,000 tons of GHG annually in addition to 14 tons of dangerous hydrogen cyanide.
Suncor also has a recent history of toxic air pollution incidents. In 2012, Suncor was fined $2.2 million for exceeding air pollution limits. In March of 2017, a power outage at Suncor resulted in the release of 600 pounds of toxins. In 2018, the refinery exceeded emission limits of hydrogen cyanide and in March of this year, a gas line break resulted in a HazMat response after a vapor cloud was released into the air.
Suncor is currently seeking to increase the amount of hydrogen cyanide it can release yearly.
Benoit says Suncor needs to be shut down or, “it will continue to emit dangerous gases which harm people and impede the rest of the world’s ability to manage a climate-safe, equitable decline of oil and gas production.”
The petition calls for Colorado elected officials to close Suncor and rapidly transition to a clean, fossil-free future and toward a Green New Deal.
For details on next canvassing date check Calendar on 350.org website or Facebook, 350 Denver.