Denver, CO (April 8, 2022) – In response to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) forthcoming decision to approve or reject Xcel Energy’s latest proposal to burn coal at Colorado’s biggest coal plant for 12 more years, a coalition of environmental and community groups rallied outside of Xcel Energy’s Colorado Headquarters calling for a coal-free Colorado on Friday, April 8th.

Participants called for the closure of the Unit 3 coal plant in Pueblo, a major source of emissions as one of the state’s few remaining coal-burning power plants. The group’s primary concerns included the region’s severe air quality issues, environmental justice, and greenhouse gas emissions reductions needed in order to reach the State’s climate goals.

“Closing coal in Pueblo is one of the most impactful environmental justice decisions in Colorado history,” said Ean Thomas Tafoya, Colorado State Director for GreenLatinos. “This facility is harming Latinos and low-income people in Pueblo with air toxics and harming us all with climate emissions. It’s time to Take on Toxics for a Coal-Free Colorado.”

“Pueblo is a great place to live and has a bright future. We deserve better than to continue being exploited as a sacrifice zone for Xcel’s coal-fired generation plant,” said Jamie Valdez, Pueblo community organizer with Mothers Out Front. “It doesn’t have to be either/or. We can have good jobs and a stable economy without sacrificing our health and environment. We’re sending a message to Xcel that it’s time to come clean! Close the C3 plant and do right by your workers, communities you’ve impacted, and future generations.”

The rally took place amidst growing concern that the PUC and Xcel Energy may opt for the continued burning of coal during a time when Colorado is breaking records for climate-related catastrophes, including increasingly devastating wildfires and worsening air quality. Both the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the International Energy Association (IEA) released reports in 2021 calling for a rapid transition off fossil fuel energy systems.

“This is our chance to stop the state’s dirtiest, most unreliable, most expensive coal-fired power plant from operating until 2035—five years longer than any other coal plant,” shared Heidi Leathwood, Climate Policy Analyst for 350 Colorado. “The longer it operates, the longer it spews the highest amount of carbon of any facility in the state, and the longer it emits air toxics that place a heavy burden on disproportionately impacted communities living nearby.”

Inaction at the state and federal level have left Colorado and the U.S. way off track on efforts to keep global temperature rises below 1.5-2° C. Climate advocates participating in the action warned that the state will not meet these goals unless there is a rapid transition away from coal-fired power and called on the PUC for a swift and just transition to renewable energy this decade.

350 Colorado is a nonprofit organization that is working to build a grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis and transition to a sustainable future. GreenLatinos is a national nonprofit that convenes a broad coalition of Latino leaders committed to addressing environmental, natural resources and conservation issues that affect the health and welfare of the U.S. Latino community. Mothers Out Front is a national nonprofit organization of over 24,000 mothers in the United States, working to protect their children and communities from the impacts of climate change.