Press Release

March 30, 2023

Community Discussion Seeks to Create a Brighter Future for Commerce City: Reimagining a Healthy and Safe Future

Community members gather to discuss their concerns and hopes for a healthier future as the Suncor oil refinery, one of the most polluting facilities in the state, restarts production  

Commerce City – The Suncor oil refinery contributes significantly to the climate crisis and “F grade” air quality in the Denver Metro North Front Range Area. Suncor exposes community members to significantly higher levels of fine particle pollution when compared with the rest of Colorado, resulting in serious negative health effects.

Residents are uniting in an effort to reimagine what their future looks like without the continued threat of Suncor’s rampant pollution looming in the background. In 2020, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced a $9 million settlement with Suncor Energy to resolve more than 100 air pollution violations. Lack of serious action from regulatory agencies has resulted in the community taking the issue into their own hands.

“It would be nice to see beyond Suncor. The future can’t wait, and neither can our health. The future is now, and there are healthier options,” said Lucy Molina, a community member, activist, and Frontline Community Organizer for 350 Colorado, “I know our families are worth it.”

Participants heard from local organizers with Cultivando about their air monitoring results and the impacts on public health and from the Suncor oil refinery. Community members were involved in the discussion, sharing their personal stories of how the Suncor refinery has affected their lives and the future they want for their community beyond Suncor. Local elected officials and government staff, as well as former EPA staff, also shared information from previous local strategy sessions and success stories from other communities that have transitioned beyond extractive industries to bring in other economic engines and workforce development.

“Our children’s lives are more important than the price of a gallon of gas,” said Cristina Ruiz, a promotora with Cultivando.

“Our Coalition is working to support historically underserved communities as they take charge of their health and community’s future, because we believe that energy should not come at the cost of community health,” says Jolie Brawner, Director of the Regenerative Recovery Coalition with the Alliance Center

During the community brainstorming session, community members discussed a desire for a holistic approach to community redesign, including a plan for shutting down Suncor and establishing requirements for Suncor to financially facilitate cleanup and compensate workers and the community for harms done. Community members expressed hopes for securing funding to support workforce reskilling, upskilling, and next skilling, affordable housing, more community spaces, local food production and tree planting, better roads, bike lanes, sidewalks, and public transportation, youth programming and education on clean energy jobs of the future. The participants discussed a desire for Commerce City to become a hub for clean, renewable energy innovation and business development.

The coalition will prepare a report about the full results of the meeting and next steps. Organizers intend for this event to be one step toward creating a healthy and just future in Commerce City where everyone can thrive without fear of illness caused by excess air pollution. Additionally, the coalition plans to bring in additional resources to support the community in the transition to a healthier energy future.


About Cultivando

Cultivando is a grassroots, community-driven Latinx Non-Profit organization that relies on the involvement of diverse community members to create impactful change and thrive.

About 350 Colorado

350 Colorado is building the local grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis and transition to a sustainable future. Visit or email for further information.

About The Alliance Center

The Alliance brings people together to develop and advance solutions for a thriving planet. We are convenors for systems-level change and believe in a regenerative future where people and planet are treated with love, dignity, and respect.  We unite the collective power of environmental and social movements so that together, we can move from merely surviving to truly thriving.