Groups File Petition Against Suncor Emissions Permit

By The G.E.S. Gazette staff

Several community and environmental groups recently filed a petition asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to object to the Title V air permit for Suncor’s East Plant in Commerce City.

The groups claim that the revised permit put forward by the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division (APCD) in September continues to violate the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), fails to hold Suncor accountable for violating pollution limits, and underestimates the pollution that the refinery pushes into neighboring disproportionately impacted communities.

Earthjustice submitted the petition on behalf of the Elyria-Swansea Neighborhood Association, GreenLatinos, Colorado Latino Forum, Cultivando, Sierra Club, and the Center for Biological Diversity.

“For generations, the people in our neighborhood have been the collateral damage from noxious, harmful industries because our federal and state regulators refuse to take meaningful action to address their pollution,” Drew Dutcher, president of the Elyria-Swansea Neighborhood Association, said in a prepared statement. “The Suncor refinery has gotten away with polluting our air and water for far too long. Instead of increasing their monitoring—as they are required to do—they are expanding their pollution and deepening the harm to our communities.”

Suncor did not respond to The G.E.S. Gazette’s request for comment by press time. The Title V permit public petition process allows the public to submit a petition to object to a Title V permit to the EPA Administrator.

If a petition is received, the EPA is required to review and respond by granting or denying the individual issues raised, which could result in additional permit changes and public notice, comment, and EPA review, said Richard Mylott, a spokesperson for the EPA’s District 8 region.

The groups argue some of the minor modifications to the permit should have been treated as major issues, which should require more restrictive emission control requirements.

The EPA sent Suncor’s original permit back to the state air pollution control department in March for modifications but allowed the permit to go into effect in September after changes were made, specifically for monitoring requirements.

In addition to the issues raised around the East Plant permit, the groups requested that the East Plant permit be combined with the permit covering the West Plant portion of the refinery.

“By combining the permits, APCD could comprehensively assess the impacts of the refinery’s pollution on community health,” EarthJustice wrote in a press release.

The West Plant permit is currently awaiting approval from APCD before it is sent to EPA for review.

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