I trust anyone reading this is familiar with the Suncor oil refinery, located in Commerce City, a few miles north of Denver. If you’ve ever driven Hi 270 to get around Denver, you’ve probably seen it (and smelt it). Although that is far outside Larimer County, the mission of those impacted by its pollution is the same mission we have here: to protect ourselves from the impacts of the O&G industry.
The zip code of those living around Suncor, 80216, is one of the most polluted in the entire country (evidence provided below), which has motivated that community to find some way to protecting themselves from Suncor’s pollution; this has resulted in the creation of the Cultivando Project, started in 1999. Many sympathetic organizations and individuals have joined the Cultivando Project to help them in that effort.
Why is this relevant to Larimer County? Because air pollution laws are implemented by the state. Although federal laws about air pollution form the legal bedrock, implementation is done at the state level. And although cities and counties have air pollution offices, they are governed by state and federal laws on air pollution. The EPA will only step in when a lack of local governance become so egregious that such action is needed (which air conditions on the Front Range seems on the verge of causing).
So the same challenges that the Cultivando community have found in trying to use state law to protect them (or not, evidence provided below) will be exactly the same challenges that we in Larimer County face — though our problems are not as acute as those in zip code 80216.
So it is very timely that this article appeared recently in Counterpunch, by the indominable Phil Doe:
I hope you are as outraged as I am after reading it. I had heard anecdotally how the poor communities living in the shadow of Suncor had been suffering for decades; but it never registered with me until Mr. Doe’s article brought it to life. He is a wizard with words, and wields his sword of action for a just purpose: we all need to unite in the realization that we are fighting an uphill battle against the O&G industry’s influence over our government. Even when we pass laws to attempt to protect ourselves, we find our efforts defeated, due to this profound depth of control that the O&G industry has over our government.
As Mr. Doe’s article makes clear, though SB-181 was passed to (supposedly) give local cities and governments the power to pass their own local laws to regulate the O&G industry, enforcement of the law has been hobbled by politics at the state level, basically due to actions (or inaction) by the Polis administration.
Meanwhile, the battle in the trenches against the grip of the O&G industry grinds on, at the city, county and regional level. I hope you will want to continue to support the Larimer Alliance in this struggle in our community — and realize we need to be in alignment with the citizens in the Cultivando Project.