News We’re Watching: Suncor 

By the G.E.S. Gazette staff

The G.E.S. Gazette staff follows stories from local media outlets about events and issues concerning the Globeville, Elyria and Swansea neighborhoods and the RiNo Art District. Here are a few stories we’re watching this month.

On Jan. 28, the Denver Post’s Noelle Phillips reported on 13 malfunctions since Dec. 1 at Suncor Energy’s oil refinery in Commerce City. According to Phillips, “The malfunctions caused Suncor to release more pollutants than the company is allowed under its two federal air pollution permits, and on at least two occasions those excessive releases lasted for days. In one incident on Jan. 13, the amount of hydrogen sulfide expelled from the refinery was more than 169 times higher than what is permitted.” 

Denverite and the Denver Post reported on actress Jane Fonda’s Feb. 1 visit to Elyria and her ride-along through the Suncor oil refinery with environmental justice activist Lucy Molina. Fonda’s visit was prompted by an invitation from Harmony Cummings, director of The Green House Connection Center in Denver’s Elyria-Swansea neighborhood. Before boarding a small bus, Fonda heard from City Council member Shontel Lewis, Ana Varela and Alfonso Espino from the GES Coalition, former state Sen. Mike Foote, Jessica Campbell-Swanson of the Arapahoe County Board of County Commissioners, longtime resident Debora Montoya and others.

On Feb. 5, news began to spread about what was being called a historic $10.5 million settlement reached between Suncor and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for the excessive amounts of sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and hydrogen sulfide the Commerce City oil refinery had released into surrounding communities from July 2019 to June 2021. Coverage included stories in the Denver Post, Colorado Sun and on Colorado Public Radio, as well as stories in La Voz in Spanish and English.

Ean Thomas Tafoya, Colorado state director for GreenLatinos, appeared Friday, Feb. 9 on the City Cast Denver podcast to discuss the Suncor settlement news.

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