DENVER – Today 40+ environmental groups representing tens of thousands of Coloradans impacted by climate change and air pollution delivered a joint letter opposing the Suncor Refinery’s Line 1 “Rocky Mountain Pipeline Project” supplemental crude oil pipeline expansion, which will increase greenhouse gas emissions and the toxic burden on an already heavily polluted frontline community in Commerce City, Colorado.
The formal petition was delivered today to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), US Department of Transportation (USDOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), Army Corps of Engineers, and Colorado’s Congressional Delegation, calling on Colorado and Federal leaders to oppose Suncor’s Line 1 ‘supplemental’ pipeline from Cheyenne, Wyoming to Commerce City, Colorado.
Line 1 would replace an existing 10” pipeline with a 16” pipeline, nearly tripling the potential transport of crude oil to the Suncor refinery. It is planned to cross the South Platte River that supplies water for Eastern Colorado, and to go through a 100-year floodplain. Since this pipeline was built off an existing pipeline, the public comment period was bypassed and construction has already begun.
“This project is in direct opposition to the environmental justice needs of this disproportionately impacted community and to the mandatory climate goals for all people of Colorado and future generations,” says Heidi Leathwood, 350 Colorado’s Climate Policy Analyst. “Line 1 directly undermines Colorado’s efforts to seek environmental justice and meet climate targets.”
Colorado’s climate and environmental justice laws include the Colorado Climate Action Plan to Reduce Pollution (HB 19-1261), which requires and specifies greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets while prioritizing the health of disproportionately impacted (DI) communities; and the Environmental Justice Act (HB 21-1266), which creates an Environmental Justice task force to protect DI communities. Today’s petition delivery cites these laws and spotlights how the continued construction of Line 1 violates Colorado’s climate and environmental justice goals by increasing pollution and air toxics in disproportionately impacted communities surrounding the refinery and increasing Colorado’s climate footprint at a pivotal time as Colorado works to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet climate goals.
The Line 1 letter delivery comes on the heels of the August 30th formal petition from environmental groups to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to make new rules to protect the public against the harmful cumulative impacts of the oil and gas industry: a mandate enacted in 2019 by SB 19-181.
“The Line 1 expansion is another example of the rampant environmental injustice that occurs in Weld & Adams Counties. It’s no secret that Latino communities are disproportionately impacted by oil & gas operations.,” shared Patricia Garcia-Nelson of GreenLatinos. “This expansion impacts communities in two countries & four states. Suncor has a history of operating failures that harm communities; they should not be rewarded for bad behavior.”
Opponents of the Line 1 pipeline expansion cite long standing cumulative impacts in the nearby disproportionately impacted community, including ozone nonattainment, F-grade air quality according to the American Lung Association and the 80216 zip code listed as the most polluted in the nation. Suncor has been a major cause of these issues, with the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory reporting Suncor was in ‘significant violation’ of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and noncompliance with the RCRA (regarding disposal of toxics), all of the last 12 quarters; in non-compliance with the Clean Water Act for 10 out of last 12 quarters; and in ‘significant violation’ of the Clean Water Act for 7 of the last 12 quarters.
“Cancer, Leukemia, asthma, migraines and bloody noses have become a norm in our neighborhoods. In addition to the climate chaos, our community is already burdened by extreme deadly fracking and refining, will this be the fatal blow?” shared Lucy Molina, Commerce City resident and Community Organizer. “Instead of investing in ancient sources of energy, we must lead our state to a just transition without leaving anyone behind and instead take the lead into a clean and safer future. No to line 1.”
Opponents cite concerns that air and water pollution will significantly increase if Line 1 expansion goes forward and are calling for a halt in construction.
Groups who submitted today’s petition against Line 1 include: 350 Colorado, Moms Clean Air Force, Womxn from the Mountain, Be the Change, Cultivando, Collective for Another World, Colorado Coalition for a Liveable Climate, SmogFree Denver, Resilient Denver, Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) Colorado, Indivisible Colorado, Northern Colorado Community Rights Network, Spirit of the Sun, I-70/Vasquez Blvd Superfund CAG, Denver EcoSocialists, Healthy Air & Water Colorado, Mental Health & Inclusion Ministries, North American Climate, Conservation and Environment (NACCE), The Alliance Center, Green Latinos, TRUST Climate Action Strategists, Humboldt Unitarian Universalist Fellowship’s Climate Action Campaign, ClimateMovement.CO, Unite North Metro Denver, The Regenerative Recovery Coalition (RRC), Denver Moms for Social Justice, Wall of Women, Our Sacred Earth, Together Against Neighborhood Drilling, Colorado Rising, CASE (Citizens Alliance for a Sustainable Englewood)
Want to take action? You can still sign on in opposition to Line 1 here.