For immediate release


Heidi Leathwood, Climate Policy Analyst, 350 Colorado,, 720.839.2549 

Lucy Molina, Suncor Action Committee Chair, 350 Colorado, Suncor community resident, 720.275.5479



EPA issues decision on petitions filed against Suncor’s Title V permit renewal  


EPA denies 350 Colorado’s petition requesting the termination of Suncor’s Plant 2 Title V permit, but sends permit back to CDPHE for revision, in response to Earthjustice’s petition 


DENVER – Today the EPA announced its decision to deny 350 Colorado’s request to terminate the Title V permit for Plant 2 of Suncor Denver Refinery. Suncor’s 2011 application for this Title V permit renewal includes over 40 modification applications submitted between 2009 and 2020. Since CDPHE didn’t take action on the renewal application or any of the 40 included modification applications within 18 months, 350 Colorado states the EPA was empowered by law to terminate the permit. EPA responded that the law states it can terminate a permit if the permitting agency “fails to act,” within 18 months, but since CDPHE finally did act after 11 years, it did not “fail to act” so there is no longer a reason for EPA to intervene.  350 Colorado also argues that Suncor’s ongoing history of violations and environmental justice issues show a pattern that is extremely likely to continue to harm the community unless the permit is terminated, and that environmental justice issues raised by EPA in their first objection to the permit have not been addressed. 350 Colorado asserts that due to the pattern of violation, CDPHE cannot show that Suncor will meet the requirements of the law, thus the EPA has authority to terminate the permit. See 350 Colorado’s petition here

Earthjustice also filed a petition on this matter. 350 Colorado’s petition was denied on all counts. Two of the issues raised by 350 Colorado were also raised by Earthjustice, and addressed there by the EPA as they granted those portions of the Earthjustice petition, along with a number of additional Earthjustice claims that were granted. The EPA order (linked here) will send the permit back to the CDPHE for revision, after which it will be refiled with the EPA. 

“It continues to be a toxic relationship between government and historically marginalized communities,” says Lucy Molina, Suncor community resident and Suncor Action Committee Chair, 350 Colorado. “They are just playing games. It’s like two tall kids tossing the ball back and forth and we are like the short kid in the middle who can’t even touch the ball. They give us the illusion that we can actually do something, but we can’t.”

In March 2022, EPA objected to the first filing of the permit and returned it to CDPHE for revisions. Along with their objection, EPA included a letter raising concerns about environmental justice, with strong recommendations for CDPHE to add a public comment process for minor modifications and to reconsider whether previous modifications were wrongly classified as minor instead of significant. Although the permit renewal was revised, and subsequently approved by the EPA, CDPHE did not conduct the EPA-recommended additional analysis of minor modification applications included in the permit. In response to a different recent regulation to address environmental justice, Suncor is suing CDPHE over a fenceline monitoring plan that is designed to protect the community.

Suncor has been polluting the surrounding neighborhood, a disproportionately impacted community, for decades. According to the US Toxic Release Inventory (TRI), in 2020 Suncor ranked above the 90th percentile in the US for toxic releases by petroleum facilities and released almost 290,000 pounds of TRI toxics into the air between 2018 and 2020. In the last 3 years it had 12 out of 12 quarters in noncompliance with the Clean Air Act, 10 out of 12 quarters in noncompliance with the Clean Water Act, and 12 out of 12 quarters noncompliance with the RCRA (disposal of toxics). In June 2023, after conducting an investigation into why Suncor has more air pollution incidents compared to other refineries, the EPA issued a report stating that Suncor has inadequacies in preventative maintenance, testing and inspection of liquid level control systems and electrical equipment.

“Suncor’s record of polluting the community speaks for itself,” says Heidi Leathwood, Climate Policy Analyst with 350 Colorado. “EPA should not hesitate to use its authority to address pollution in frontline communities, because the industry is not doing it. This is a prime example. How much more evidence do we need that Suncor is poisoning the community and doesn’t plan to stop doing it?”