Environmental Justice

What is Environmental Justice?

Environmental justice recognizes that all people have a right to breathe clean air, drink clean water, participate freely in decisions that affect their environment, live free of dangerous levels of toxic pollution, experience equal protection of environmental policies, and share the benefits of a prosperous and vibrant pollution-free economy.

~ Colorado Environmental Justice Act

 

Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.  This goal will be achieved when everyone enjoys:

  • The same degree of protection from environmental health hazards, and
  • Equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.

~ United States Environmental Protective Agency

Featured Events

soilSHOP logo
Commerce City and North Denver! Come and test your garden soil for lead on May 28 at Swansea Recreation Center. 

Bring a soil sample from your garden for our free soilSHOP event, and we’ll screen it for lead.

The event is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on May 28 at Swansea Recreation Center. Register at https://tinyurl.com/2p82btdb.

When you register, we’ll hold your spot and tell you how to collect your soil sample.

Experts from state and federal agencies, a pediatrician, and a Colorado Master Gardener will be on hand to answer your questions. We’ll have lots of information on safe gardening practice and protecting children from lead exposure, plus information about the hazards of lead. If your soil tests high, we’ll give you a take-home gardening kit. Kids are welcome at the soilSHOP, and we’ll have activities to keep them busy!  

We’re hosting soilSHOP at the same time and place as a tree planting event led by Globeville, Elyria, and Swansea community members. If you live in Globeville, Elyria, or Swansea and would like to learn more about the tree planting opportunity, contact cdphe_ej@state.co.us

Commerce City, North Denver, and Pueblo

U.S. EPA & CDPHE want to hear from you on environmental issues affecting your community!

Share your input during these virtual community engagement sessions.   

 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) want to hear from you about:

 

  • Public health and environmental challenges in your community
  • Your priorities for enforcement & compliance
  • How our agencies can better engage your community about enforcement and compliance assurance matters.

 

The EPA and CDPHE signed an Environmental Justice in Enforcement Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on March 8, 2022, to strengthen our collaborative compliance assurance efforts and enforcement of environmental laws and regulations in disproportionately impacted communities.

 

We are committed to early engagement with community members and local environmental justice stakeholders to ensure our activities and actions are informed by the experiences and expertise of the community.

 

Pueblo: Please click here to register or join the discussion on May

 

Commerce City & North Denver: Please click here to register or join the discussion on May 25, 2022, 6pm.

Meetings and engagement

Open Embed

Upcoming events

Air Quality events

Upcoming Ozone Listening Sessions

CDPHE’s Air Pollution Control Division and the Regional Air Quality Council are working to find ways to reduce ozone in Colorado and are seeking public input. The next ozone listening sessions will

  • share basic ozone information, 
  • identify planning processes and potential reduction strategies, and 
  • provide opportunities to share concerns and suggestions.

Register here for the next session:

Suncor’s Proposed Draft Water Quality Permit

CDPHE asked the public to weigh in on a permit that will limit pollution and place more conditions on the Suncor oil refinery. The draft permit is a more restrictive permit than Suncor had before. It will further protect Sand Creek and downstream waters for recreation, fish, agriculture, and drinking. The permit will also increase transparency about Suncor’s site operations. Finally, it will require monitoring and limits for dozens of toxic metals and chemicals, like benzene and PFAS.

You can access the full draft permit information materials on the Suncor Water Quality Permits webpage.

The public weighed in on the draft Suncor water quality permit during the initial and responsive comment periods (comment period ended April 14, 2022). Now, you can provide feedback during the rebuttal comment period. This is a thirty-day period where you can address (rebut) others’ responsive comments. All comments will be recorded and the division will respond to all comments.

View the Draft Permit Package | Visit the Suncor Water Quality Permits 

The division is accepting feedback during Suncor’s water quality permit rebuttal comment period through Thursday, May 26, 2022.
  
ABOUT THE PERMIT

The draft water quality permit proposes to limit pollution and place more conditions on Suncor oil refinery to protect public health. The draft permit also aims to increase the transparency of Suncor’s site operations, implement monitoring requirements, and further limit dozens of toxic metals and chemicals, such as benzene and PFAS. You can view all the comments received during the responsive comment period and respond to what others have said.

VIEW AND RESPOND TO COMMENTS

Review comments received in this Google folder

Respond to comments using the rebuttal comment form:

Download the Microsoft Word rebuttal comment form.


Using the form you downloaded:

Copy and paste the comment you are rebutting in the form.  Type your rebuttal to the comment in the “rebuttal” box next to the comment.  Repeat for each comment you are rebutting. Save the document frequently to save your progress. 

When you complete your responses, email your rebuttal comment form to the division at cdphe_wqcd_suncor@state.co.us. 
Submit your comments in Microsoft Word format. Do not submit comments in PDF format.

You can email any documents or files related to your comments to cdphe_wqcd_suncor@state.co.us. Please reference the attachment(s) in your comment responses. 

**If you have electronic files that are too large to be emailed, let us know in your email and we will send you a link to a folder where you can submit the files.

Recordings of informational meetings about this draft permit and the stakeholder process can be found in this public folder.

REQUEST TRANSLATION

To request translation or interpretation, please email the division at cdphe_wqcd_suncor@state.co.us.

NEXT STEPS 

Once the rebuttal comment period ends on May 26, 2022, the division will organize all the received comments, consider them all in developing the final permit, and respond to comments in the final permit fact sheet.

If you would like to learn more about Suncor and the fenceline monitoring plan, please send questions to: cdphe.commentsapcd@state.co.us. Be sure to include your name and organization, if applicable.

 

Environmental Justice Action Task Force 

The Environmental Justice Action Task Force is a new body created by the Environmental Justice Act (House Bill 21-1266). It held its third, virtual meeting in 2 parts on Tuesday, April 19th from 12pm - 6pm, and Saturday April 23rd from 12 p.m. - 3 p.m. Simultaneous Spanish interpretation was available. 

The Environmental Justice Action Task Force has four subcommittees that will work to address specific topics. As required by the Colorado Open Meetings Law, these are public meetings. You can join the meetings at the following dates and times using the links below:

View recordings of past Task Force meetings here.

Environmental Justice Advisory Board

The Environmental Justice Advisory Board is a new body created by the Environmental Justice Act (House Bill 21-1266). You can learn more about the Advisory Board on the tab below. 

Advisory board meetings

EJAB Co-Chair Planning Meeting, Monday, May 23, 1-2:30 p.m.

The Environmental Justice Advisory Board will hold its next virtual meeting on July 21st (subject to change). Simultaneous Spanish interpretation will be available.

Agenda coming soon.

Suncor Air Quality Permits

Suncor Air Pollution Permit 

CDPHE is now soliciting feedback from the public on the draft permit for Plants 1 and 3 at the Suncor refinery in Commerce City. The permit includes additional requirements to reduce pollution and protect public and environmental health, such as new monitoring, testing, recordkeeping, and reporting requirements related to air pollution. 

Comments are due by Wednesday, June 8.

Suncor Fenceline Monitoring Plan

Suncor is the first of the four covered facilities to submit a draft fenceline monitoring plan under House Bill 21-1189. It must commence fenceline monitoring by 1/1/2023. Suncor’s draft fenceline monitoring plan is available in English and Spanish.

The public comment period for Suncor’s draft fenceline monitoring plan closed on April 5, 2022.

Future events - notification 

If you want to stay up to date about environmental justice events and other important updates, use our online sign-up to receive email notifications

Learning about environmental justice

What are Disproportionately Impacted Communities?

Some communities in Colorado have more than their fair share of environmental exposures. As a result, they may experience higher levels of environmental health harm. Many of these communities are home to people of color and low-income families.

The Environmental Justice Act (House Bill 21-1266) refers to these places as Disproportionately Impacted Communities. It defines Disproportionately Impacted Communities as:

  • Census Block Groups with one of 3 demographic factors:
    • More than 40% low-income households;
    • More than 40% people of color households;
    • More than 40% housing cost-burdened households;
  • Communities with a history of environmental racism perpetuated through exclusionary laws, including redlining, anti-Hispanic, anti-Black, anti-indigenous, and anti-immigrant laws; and
  • Communities where multiple factors (socioeconomic stressors, disproportionate environmental burdens, lack of public participation) cumulatively contribute to persistent public health and environmental disparities.

The Environmental Justice Program is identifying communities that meet this definition. For more information, visit our mapping tab, below. 

What is the Environmental Justice Act?

On July 2, 2021, Governor Polis signed the Environmental Justice Act (HB21-1266) into law. The Environmental Justice Act commits to strengthening environmental justice. It prioritizes reducing environmental health disparities in disproportionately impacted communities.

What is the Air Toxics Act?

On June 24, 2021, Governor Polis signed the Air Toxics Act (House Bill 21-1189) into law. The Air Toxics Act enhances air monitoring and protects the health of communities near facilities that emit higher levels of hazardous air pollutants. It requires meaningful public input on fenceline monitoring plans that will provide real-time monitoring of air pollutants.

What are other Colorado state agencies doing to strengthen Environmental Justice?

Many state agencies besides CDPHE are working to strengthen environmental justice:

In addition to the Environmental Justice Act (HB21-1266) there are many other laws that advance environmental justice in Colorado:

EPA resources for learning about environmental justice

 

What we are up to

Air Pollution Control 

The Air Pollution Control Division has a Climate Change Unit. The Unit works to protect a livable climate by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Climate Change Unit focuses on communities disproportionately impacted by climate change. 

Climate change will impact people who are already dealing with multiple stressors the most. Effective climate action will reduce harm to all Coloradans, including disproportionately impacted communities. At the same time, climate mitigation strategies could either worsen disparities or promote equity. We commit to using the fight to mitigate climate change as an opportunity to support racial equity and economic justice.

To achieve these goals, we have developed a Climate Equity Framework. The framework ensures that racial equity and economic justice guide our response to climate change. The Climate Change Unit worked with community organizations, community members, and environmental justice experts in state, federal, and local government to develop the framework.

The final Climate Equity Framework:

  • Provides principles to ensure that Colorado’s response to climate change considers equity at every stage,
  • Shares best practices for outreach and engagement with disproportionately impacted communities,
  • Outlines a plan for stakeholder engagement in greenhouse gas emission reduction rulemakings, and
  • Provides questions to help consider potential equity impacts of implementing rules.  

The Climate Change Unit has also developed a Climate Equity Data Viewer. It will help prioritize engagement efforts and evaluate the potential impacts of climate-related policy decisions. The Climate Equity Data Viewer uses population and environmental factors to calculate a climate equity score. Areas with a higher climate equity score have more potential impacts from climate change than other communities. There are scores for each census block group in Colorado.

Hazardous Materials and Waste Management

The Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division provides financial assistance and free test kits to low-income families to mitigate radon.

  • The purpose of the Low-Income Radon Mitigation Assistance Program is to enhance a safe living environment for low-income homeowners in Colorado. 
  • Radon is an invisible, odorless, radioactive gas that occurs naturally in Colorado. If there is too much radon in your home, it can pose risks to your health. 
  • The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that radon stay below a level called an “action level.” That level is 4 picocuries per liter. A picocurie is a measure of radiation exposure.
  • If a Colorado homeowner has radon levels above the action level, they may be eligible for assistance. The Program can pay to install a radon mitigation system. 
  • In 2021, the Program provided about 7,000 free radon test kits. The Program has mitigated 229 homes since it started in February 2018. It will continue to work towards providing a safe and healthy living space for all Coloradans, no matter their financial status. 
Water Quality Control

Data shows that people in Colorado who speak languages other than English are more likely to drink bottled water than tap water. To address this disparity, the Water Quality Control Division launched an outreach program about the benefits of tap water for Colorado’s immigrant and refugee communities.

Outreach to refugee and immigrant communities is part of CDPHE’s 2016-2017 strategic plan. That document set goals to advance environmental justice and health equity. 

Data shows that Morgan County is home to large populations of foreign-born residents. Many of them report drinking bottled water. Because of this data, we focus our outreach efforts in Morgan County. 

Most drinking water systems in Morgan County comply with regulations. But one system does not always provide safe drinking water. Because of this, our outreach does not just encourage people to drink tap water. It also teaches people how to read a consumer confidence report. Every community water system must create and distribute a consumer confidence report every year. This report provides information about water quality and any health risks that customers should know about. While the report contains important information, it is not easy to read. 

We taught classes for local health navigators to help refugee and immigrant communities better understand their tap water quality. We’ve also distributed information at mobile food pantries and at a local health festival. We placed educational posters in our partner locations. We even worked with a student group to paint a mural showing the benefits of tap water. 

In the future, we will work with refugee resettlement agencies to provide tap water information during the orientation process. We will also work with local health clinics to display posters in their facilities. 

Please contact Kaitlyn Beekman at Kaitlyn.beekman@state.co.us for more information! 

Recent environmental justice events
October 27, November 6, November 17, and December 4: Community Conversations about Air Quality

The Environmental Justice Act creates more opportunities for disproportionately impacted community members to get involved in decisions about air quality.
CDPHE recently hosted special outreach sessions for disproportionately impacted communities.

These sessions were about three air quality rulemakings:

  • Updating and clarifying standards for lead-based paint abatement. 
  • Protecting the air and views in our national parks and wilderness areas by reducing pollution that decreases visibility. 
  • Reduce air and climate pollution from the oil and gas sector.

During each community conversation, staff from the Air Pollution Control Division provided information and answered questions.

Review meeting materials: fact sheets about each rulemaking in English and Spanish and other meeting materials.

Meeting recordings in English and Spanish are available here: 

November 12, 2021: Commerce City Drinking Water Forum
Diverse group of people taste test multiple glasses of water

Cultivando is an organization that serves the Latinx community in Adams County. It focuses on community leadership to advance health equity through advocacy, collaboration, and policy change. 

Cultivando invited CDPHE to join the community in tasting the water in Commerce City. Community members were worried that their water was unsafe to drink because of its taste.   

What we did at the event:

  • CDPHE and South Adams County Water & Sanitation District joined community members to taste water samples from around Commerce City.
  • We discussed the causes of taste and odor in drinking water, and why that is different than chemicals that pose health risks.
  • We also discussed low-cost options to improve the taste of tap water. Drinking tap water provides many benefits. For example, fluoride in tap water is important to keep teeth healthy. There are ways to improve the taste of tap water that do not require spending money on expensive options like buying bottled water or installing whole-house filtration systems.
  • CDPHE and South Adams County Water staff answered questions from the community. 

You can learn more by reading the Taste and Odor Frequently Asked Questions document in English or Spanish.

You can also learn more by reading about the benefits of tap water in English, Spanish, or Somali

October 29, 2021: Elyria-Swansea Walking Tour

Elyria, Globeville, Swansea & Partners invited the department on a walking tour of the Elyria and Swansea neighborhoods.

Why did we go on the tour?

  • We accepted the community’s invitation to tour Elyria & Swansea because we’re committed to environmental justice. 
  • We know that listening and spending time in communities is the best way to understand the experiences of their residents.
  • CDPHE leaders went on the tour because many different programs within CDPHE work with residents of Globeville, Elyria, and Swansea. 
  • North Denver’s Globeville, Elyria, and Swansea neighborhoods are predominantly low-income and Latinx. They bear a disproportionate impact of environmental health risks compared to other communities in Colorado. 
  • We are working hard on reducing these environmental health disparities in north Denver and across Colorado.
  • We want to ensure that community voices are represented in our processes to make decisions about environmental matters.
September 28, 2021: Air Toxics Community Meeting

The department co-hosted a meeting with community leaders about air toxics. The purpose of the meeting was to provide information about how to get involved with implementing a new law: the Air Toxics Act (HB21-1189). The Air Toxics Act requires some companies to submit fenceline monitoring plans for public review and comment.

  • Community leaders gave an overview of the law and provided their perspectives. CDPHE staff described how to get involved with the fenceline monitoring plans. We also discussed fenceline monitoring technologies, and responded to questions from the public.
  • Review meeting materials: You can watch a video of the event, see survey results, and read fact sheets about the Air Toxics Act in English and Spanish.
  • Air Toxics Act Fact Sheet
  • Air Toxics Act Fact Sheet (Espanol)
Read our monthly EJ Program Newsletter
Newsletter issues
Commerce City/North Denver

Learn more about CDPHE’s efforts to advance environmental justice in the Commerce City/North Denver area in partnership with local communities.

Environmental Justice & Enforcement
  • On March 9, 2022, CDPHE signed a Memorandum of Understanding with EPA Region 8 to coordinate on enforcement actions that advance the environmental goals of both agencies.  Colorado is the second state in the nation, following California, to develop a memorandum of understanding with EPA on this topic. The memorandum further enhances CDPHE’s ability to identify the most serious threats to public health and the environment in communities that are disproportionately impacted by pollution.
  • The memorandum contains a number of provisions, including:
    • Strategically prioritizing inspections at facilities located in communities that are disproportionately impacted by pollution.
    • Enhancing enforcement coordination between CDPHE and EPA to reduce pollution burdens in disproportionately impacted communities.
    • Expanding transparency through public engagement about enforcement and compliance actions in impacted communities.
  • Read the Memorandum of Understanding with EPA Region 8.

Environmental Justice Act

On July 2, 2021, Governor Polis signed the Environmental Justice Act (HB21-1266) into law. The Environmental Justice Act commits to strengthening environmental justice. It prioritizes reducing environmental health disparities in disproportionately impacted communities.

The Environmental Justice Act creates the following roles:

  • Environmental Justice Advisory Board
  • Environmental Justice Action Task Force
  • Environmental Justice Ombudsperson

Read more about these groups and roles on the tabs above.

Environmental Justice Advisory Board


The Environmental Justice Advisory Board is a volunteer board. The Governor and Executive Director of CDPHE appoint its 12 members.

The Board serves Colorado by:

  • Coordinating with the Environmental Justice Ombudsperson.
  • Advising CDPHE on best practices for engaging disproportionately impacted communities.
  • Responding to environmental justice policy matters referred by the Governor’s Office or CDPHE.
  • Creating and overseeing an environmental justice grants program.

Members of the Environmental Justice Advisory Board

Jonathan Skinner-Thompson

Boulder, CDPHE Executive Director appointee

Headshot of Johnathan Skinner-Thompson

Jonathan is an Associate Clinical Professor at University of Colorado Law School and Director of the Getches-Green Natural Resources, Energy & Environmental Law Clinic. Jonathan also teaches Environmental Law and Climate Change Law & Policy, and he writes on administrative and environmental law issues. His scholarship has appeared or is forthcoming in the Washington Law Review, and the environmental journals at Duke, Stanford, Vermont, and Virginia law schools, American Bar Association’s Natural Resources & Environment magazine.

Before joining University of Colorado Law School, Jonathan was an attorney at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—first in the Office of General Counsel and then with the Office of Regional Counsel in Denver. Jonathan also has served in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environmental Defense Section and was an environmental associate with firms in New York and Seattle. For his federal service, Jonathan received the Administrator’s Award for Excellence, a Special General Counsel’s Award, and the Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Excellence, among others.

Jonathan graduated cum laude from Duke University School of Law and with high honors from the University of California, Berkeley.

 

Dr. David Rojas Rueda

Fort Collins, CDPHE Executive Director appointee

David Rojas-Rueda

David is an assistant professor at Colorado State University in environmental epidemiology. David's work focuses on assessing the health impacts of environmental and climate policies with an equity vision. He is the author of more than 90 scientific publications. David specializes in methods such as risk assessment and health impact assessment. His research actively involves residents, stakeholders, and authorities. He collaborates with international organizations, such as the World Health Organization, World Bank, and national and local authorities on environmental health and equity issues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bianka Emerson

Lakewood, representative of a nongovernmental organization that represents statewide interests to advance racial justice

Bianka Emerson

Bianka is a Campaign Strategist and has spent most of her professional career in electoral politics and the public & non-profit sector. She worked on several political campaigns, presidential and gubernatorial. She was the Coalitions Director for the Biden Harris campaign in Colorado, hosting the highest number of events for the Mid Western Region. Due to the pandemic, ninety percent of events were held virtually, which was a historic undertaking. Bianka was the Deputy Political Director for Colorado Governor Jared Polis’ campaign and Campaign Coordinator for Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. 
She worked as a graduate fellow for the Democratic National Convention Committee in Denver, Colorado, which led to her work on President Barack Obama’s 2007 campaign as a Field Organizer. 

Bianka was the Program Manager for the Colorado Civic Engagement Roundtable, where her role was to provide resources and organizational development for Progressive non-profit organizations throughout the state. She provides strategy regarding legislation in healthcare public options, financial equity, and education services in her consulting capacity. Bianka has a master's in social science and a law degree. Recently appointed by Governor Polis to the Environment Justice Advisory Board, she serves on many community and civic boards, including, Blue Flower, an organization that raises money for women running for public office, and Colorado Black Women for Political Action as President - Elect.

 

Philip Lopez

Commerce City, current or former resident of a disproportionately impacted community

Philip Lopez

Philip Lopez is a sixth-generation native of the San Luis Valley in Southern Colorado, where he grew up on a cattle ranch and gained a passion for issues involving Colorado’s most precious resource: water.  Philip obtained bachelor of science degrees in Finance and Economics from Adams State University in 2004, and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Colorado Law School in 2008.  From 2008-2014, Philip practiced law at firms in Alamosa and Denver, specializing in water rights.  From 2014-2020, Philip served as an Assistant Attorney General and Senior Assistant Attorney General in the Water Resources and Water Conservation Units of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.  In that capacity, Philip represented the State Engineer, the Colorado Water Conservation Board, and the Colorado Ground Water Commission in various capacities, including in water court litigation.  Currently, Philip is a director at the Denver law firm of Fairfield and Woods, P.C., where he represents clients in water rights litigation and transactions, as well as related real property issues.


 

Steven Arauza

Rifle, current or former resident of a disproportionately impacted community

Steven Arauza

Steven Arauza was appointed to the CDPHE Environmental Justice Advisory Board by the Governor and Executive Director of CDPHE in November 2021.  He is serving in the capacity of a current or former resident of a disproportionately impacted community. Steven is an Environmental Protection Specialist with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission with over 6 years of service with the Colorado Department of Natural Resources from the eastern plains to the west slope.  Steven is based in Rifle, Colorado and his current areas of responsibility include Garfield, Rio Blanco, and Mesa counties.  Steven also serves as district chair and board member for the state employees union, Colorado WINS Local 1876. Steven earned a B.S. in Geological Sciences from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Science in Geological Sciences from the University of California, Santa Barbara.  Outside of work, you can find Steven and his family hiking and biking the trails throughout the Colorado River and Roaring Fork valleys.

 

 

Christina Yebuah

Aurora, current or former resident of a disproportionately impacted community

Christina Yebuah

Christina Yebuah started off her academic career with an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Emory University. After college, she went on to get her Master’s in Public Health and Master’s of Public Administration, with a concentration in Community-Informed Policy. During her graduate program, she worked for the Eugene S Farley Health Policy Center, where she would engage in health policy research, mostly regarding behavioral health and primary care integration. She also worked for the Rocky Mountain Public Health Training Center, where she assisted in creating trainings for public health and medical professionals around health equity topics. She went on to work as the Health Research and Policy Analyst for the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, where she led work ranging from birth equity, alternative payment models, behavioral health delivery, Medicaid waiver services, and the creation of community-informed policy initiatives and anti-poverty networks across the state. Christina now serves as the Maternal Health Manager at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, working to prevent maternal mortality. Additionally, she serves on the board for the Colorado Black Health Collaborative, where she also co-chair’s a woman’s health program titled, HerHealth | HerTruth, which works to provide reproductive and maternal health resources, create space for community building, and give opportunities for storytelling for black women across the state of Colorado.

 

Jason Swann

Denver, representative of a nongovernmental organization that represents statewide interests to advance environmental justice

Jason Swann

Jason Swann is a serial entrepreneur, Land Policy Analyst, and advocate.  At Western Resource Advocates he focuses on making sure westerners have equal access to land, wildlife, and water.  Specifically, his area of expertise includes analyses on privatization of access and blocked access to public lands and water, equitable access to public open spaces, access to decision-making, and managing and limiting access in a fair manner for natural resource protection.  He helped usher the Colorado Outdoor Equity Grant Program into law in 2021 and launched Rising Routes to work with diverse communities to educate, empower, and transform individuals to act towards mental health and wellness, social and environmental justice, and environmental stewardship of our public lands for a better quality of life for all.  He’s leading campaigns for federal policy to ensure long-term investments in programs to serve all youth with opportunities to explore the great outdoors with the Outdoor FUTURE Initiative and amplifying BIPOC voices in the creation, designation, funding, and conservation of national monuments through Monumental SHIFT. He also sits on the Board of Directors of the Highline Canal Conservancy, a 71-mile-long canal, whose mission is to preserve, protect and enhance the canal in partnership with the public.  In addition, he’s a member of the Community Adaptation, Resiliency, and Environmental Justice Committee (CARE-J) to identify concerns and solutions that fit the unique needs of Denver’s communities and assist CASR in defining its role in facilitating systemic change to address environmental justice.  Most of all, Jason is a servant leader of humanity reimagining a system that ensures the needs of present and future generations.

 

Rupal Shah

Lakewood, CDPHE Executive Director appointee

Rupal Shah

Rupal has worked for organizations with a mission-focus for more than 17 years, and has gained comprehensive experience in fundraising, nonprofit development and grants management. Prior to her time in the philanthropic sector, Rupal was working in corporate America. She is drawn to organizations that are mission-oriented. Her nonprofit experience includes roles supporting missions related to health, financial literacy, early childhood development and education.

In Rupal’s current role, she is responsible for overseeing grants management, compliance protocols and supporting systems management at the Colorado Health Foundation. Rupal cites the importance of grants management as a vital function to ensuring the Foundation is successful in achieving impact across our state. Rupal’s passion for the world of philanthropy is rooted in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). She cites the Foundation’s intentionality surrounding DEI to all aspects of the work as a motivating factor in applying for the role as senior grants manager, which she began in January 2019. Her drive to make a difference extends beyond the workplace, where she seeks out volunteer opportunities for organizations like Girls on the Run, which is dedicated to fostering confidence, healthy behaviors and self-respect in pre-teen girls.

Rupal is committed to leading a healthy lifestyle, and aims to embrace some form of physical activity each day – whether it be a long walk after work, finding an immersive Colorado hike, going for a jog on the treadmill, taking a spin class or a moment to become centered through meditation.

 

Aaron Martinez

Pueblo, current or former resident of a disproportionately impacted community

Aaron Martinez

Born and raised in Pueblo, Colorado, Aaron began working at Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment in 2011 as an Environmental Health Specialist. Currently, as a Program Manager in

Environmental Health, he supervises several programs under Solid Waste, Residential Housing, and Air Quality. Prior to public health, Aaron worked in health care and the pharmaceutical industry. 

Having a lifelong love for the Arkansas River, the high prairies, and Wet Mountains, he believes we are stewards of this land. Aaron is interested in responsible growth, while preserving our natural resources. Aaron has deep family roots in Southern Colorado that can be traced to the mid 1800’s. Aaron is also the proud son, grandson, and nephew of Pueblo Steel Workers. He holds a B.S. in Biology from Colorado State University-Pueblo.


 

Jorge Figueroa

Lafayette, CDPHE Executive Director appointee

Jorge Figueroa

Jorge has worked as a river advocate and Colorado water policy analyst for 8 years with Western Resource Advocates. Shortly after Hurricane Maria devastated his homeland of Puerto Rico (September 20, 2017) Jorge co-founded El Laboratorio with Paul Cawood Hellmund and Nita Gonzales--- a social justice and environmental innovation laboratory incubated in partnership with Americas for Conservation + Arts. He worked for 3 years at El Laboratorio designing and facilitating co-creative processes whereby individuals and groups that are typically underrepresented in environmental decision- and solution-making collaborate with agencies, organizations, and subject matter experts to develop real and meaningful, placed-based climate change solutions for people and nature. Jorge recently started a new position as the Community Partnerships Administrator for the City and County of Denver’s Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency (CASR) and the Climate Protection Fund (CPF.) He is a Trustee with Water Education Colorado; served as Project Associate/Research Faculty Member for the Governors Climate and Forests Task Force at CU Law School; was a Fulbright Scholar in India with the India Institute of Science on Climate Change Innovation and Community Forestry; and graduated from the Elisabeth Haub School of Law's Environmental Law Program and the Yale School of the Environment. 

 


 

Josette Jaramillo

Pueblo, representative of worker interests in disproportionately impacted communities

Josette Jaramillo

Josette Jaramillo was born and raised in the East Side of Pueblo Colorado.  She received her undergraduate degree from Colorado State University Pueblo and completed her graduate studies at Adams State College in 2007.  Josette is the granddaughter of Henry Jaramillo, who was a long-time member of United Steel Workers Local 2102 in Pueblo, Colorado.  Her parents, Jake Jaramillo (mechanic) and Josie Simms (barber) are both self-employed with her father being retired. 

Josette began working for the Pueblo County Department of Human Services in 2005 and became a member of AFSCME Local 1335 in August.  She has risen through the leadership ranks of her own local union, state council, and the Colorado AFLCIO.  In October of 2017, she was elected to her first four year term as president of the Colorado AFL-CIO making her the first woman of color, first person from outside the Metro area, and first LGBTQ person to hold the office of President.  She was elected to her second two year term in October of 2021.  Josette currently serves on the National Executive Board of Pride at Work, COLOR Action Fund,  AFSCME Council 18, and is a delegate to the Southern Colorado Labor Council.  In addition to her volunteer roles with organized labor, Josette continues to work for Pueblo County as a Casework Supervisor overseeing the foster care and kinship program for the county.

 

 

Phuonglan Nguyen

Denver, CDPHE Executive Director's designee (non-voting member)

Phuonglan Nguyen


Phuonglan Nguyen joined the Office of Health Equity in March 2022 as Deputy Director. Many at CDPHE have come to know her from her work in the Prevention Services Division for the past seven years, leading public health strategic projects aimed at reducing health disparities among Colorado children and people of reproductive age. She is a long-standing leader in the Health Equity & Environmental Justice Collaborative and is a fierce advocate for building dialogues and strengthening the capacity of CDPHE staff across the divisions to embed and operationalize equity, justice and community inclusion into programming, services and policies in ways that are responsive and accountable to Coloradans.

In her role, Phuonglan works to ensure the success of SB 21-181 implementation, including monitoring and reporting on the state of Colorado’s health equity, engaging the communities most impacted by health disparities in the development of solutions , and aligning state agency work on equity to achieve meaningful impact. Phuonglan continues to be committed to supporting the growth and efficacy of the Office of Health Equity (as part of the Office of Culture, Strategy, Equity, and Innovation), CDPHE staff across the divisions, and community partners across our great state. 

Phuonglan received her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Denver with a focus on organizational development and leadership for community action. She has worked as a classroom teacher, economic analyst, state legislative affairs specialist, community organizer, evaluation researcher, professional interpreter and translator, and artist. She can’t imagine ever moving away from Colorado where she has lived for more than 30 years and the only place she’s called home after having left her home land of Vietnam as a teenager. She also can’t imagine life without cats, family, comfort food, or music and art, and looks forward to learning how an electric manual transmission actually works.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Submit a comment to the Environmental Justice Advisory Board

Please email your comments to cdphe_ej@state.co.us with “EJAB” in the subject line

Next Meeting of the Environmental Justice Advisory Board

The Environmental Justice Advisory Board will hold its next virtual meeting on Tuesday, April 5th from 11a.m.. to 6:30p.m. Simultaneous Spanish interpretation will be available. Read the agenda here.

Environmental justice grants portal [coming soon]

  • About the Environmental Justice Grant Program.
  • Apply for an Environmental Justice Grant.
  • Meet the Past Recipients of Environmental Justice Grants.
  • Read our Annual Reports (coming in 2023).
  • Conflict of Interest Policy and Bylaws.

Environmental Justice Action Task Force

The Environmental Justice Action Task Force has 27 members from across Colorado. By Nov. 14, 2022, it must create a comprehensive state government Environmental Justice Plan.

The plan must address many different topics, including:

  • Incorporating equity analyses into state agency environmental decisions.
  • Identifying cumulative impacts of state actions in disproportionately impacted communities.
  • Requiring permits in disproportionately impacted communities to avoid, minimize & mitigate impacts.
  • Setting measurable goals to reduce environmental health disparities.
  • Creating a plan to address data gaps
  • Recommending best practices for community engagement in disproportionately impacted communities
  • Suggesting revisions to the definition of disproportionately impacted community.
  • Recommending which agencies should conduct enhanced outreach in disproportionately impacted communities.

Attend the Next Meeting of the Environmental Justice Action Task Force

The Environmental Justice Action Task Force has four subcommittees that will work to address specific topics. All subcommittee meetings are open to the public. You can join the meetings at the following dates and times using the links below:

Meeting information

The Environmental Justice Action Task Force members will be collaboratively editing documents beginning in February 2022 and ending in November 2022 as they work towards drafting recommendations on environmental justice policy matters. This announcement provides public notice of that collaboration pursuant to the Colorado Open Meetings Law.

These Task Force documents are public documents. You can view all Task Force documents in the public Google Drive folder, including current and prior drafts of the documents that Task Force members are working collaboratively to draft and edit.

WATCH recordings of past Task Force meetings here.

Members of the Environmental Justice Action Task Force

Appointed by Governor Polis:

Robyn Wille

CDPHE representative with expertise in Air Quality

Robyn Wille

Robyn Wille serves as the Air Division's Chief Strategy Officer. Ms. Wille supervises the Air Division's Office of Innovations in Planning. Prior to joining the Air Division, Ms. Wille was a senior assistant attorney general at the Colorado Department of Law, representing the Air Division.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trisha Oeth

CDPHE representative with expertise in Water Quality

Trisha Oeth

Trisha Oeth is the Director of Environmental Policy at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. She provides policy direction and support for the environmental divisions in concert with the Director of Environmental Health and Protection, and the directors of the four environmental divisions. She also oversees the department’s Environmental Justice Unit, Boards and Commissions team, and Energy Liaison. 

Trisha has over 15 years of experience in water quality law and policy in Colorado, and has served as the Interim Director of the Water Quality Control Division, the Administrator for the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission, and has represented the Water Quality Control Division while practicing law at the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. Trisha served as co-chair of the Association of Clean Water Administrators’ Nutrient Policy Committee, was a member of the Western States Water Council, served on the Steering Committee for the Colorado Water Quality Forum, is an alumni of Water Education Colorado’s Water Leaders Program, and is a member of the Boulder Water Resources Advisory Board.

 

Dr. Sheila Davis

CDPHE representative with expertise in Health Equity

Dr. Sheila Davis

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Dr. Sheila Davis brings fifteen years of experience translating complex concepts and principles of health equity into actionable steps at the national and local levels. Her principal accomplishments in the struggle to achieve health equity include: (1) working on provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; (2) designing a disaster preparedness report card in the context of race and poverty; (3) serving on the writing team of a Department of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People Progress Review; and (4) co-authoring Cultural Competency Guidelines for Community Health Centers. 

Her career trajectory has also been informed by her interests in health professions education and systems science. Professor Jay Forrester, a pioneer in the field of systems dynamics, introduced her to systems thinking while she was an undergraduate student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Dr. Davis applied her systems engineering background during her tenure as Acting Director of the University of Denver’s Healthcare Leadership Program – a master’s degree program in emerging health careers. 

Over the past few years, Dr. Davis coordinated health equity initiatives at the Boulder County Health Department. She has led internal health equity work, developing work plans to change the organizational culture and training staff and key partners on a range of health equity issues. More recently, Dr. Davis has been deployed to work on Covid19 response and recovery efforts in the Metro Denver region. She also serves as a Colorado Vaccine Equity Champion and Health Chair of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Colorado-Wyoming-Montana Region. 

In September, Dr. Davis assumed the role of Director of the Office of Health Equity for the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment. She sits on the American Friends Service Committee West Executive Committee and the Medical Advisory Section of the Governor’s Expert Emergency Epidemic Response Committee

 

Elizabeth Schoder 

Representative of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

EJATF member

Elizabeth Schoder is the Water Planning & Community Outreach Specialist for the Colorado Water Conservation Board, an agency within the Department of Natural Resources. She works on community education & outreach, innovation and equity issues for the Water Supply Planning Section.

Previously, Elizabeth worked for the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment on their COVID equity team, helping expand vaccine access regionally across the state. Prior to that she worked on the Western Slope as the Education & Outreach Manager for the Eagle River Watershed Council. She received her Bachelor's degree in Environmental Policy from Colorado College. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Water Education Colorado.

 

 

 

 

Marsha Nelson

Colorado Department of Transportation (“CDOT”) representative

Marsha Nelson

Marsha Nelson is the Chief Equity Officer for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). She leads the departments newly created Environmental Justice and Equity Branch, established as part of SB21‐260, the comprehensive transportation funding and modernization bill passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Polis this Spring.

Nelson joins CDOT from the Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) of the City and County of Denver, where she helped lead the department’s priorities in transportation equity and the development, execution and prioritization of multiple high priority special projects and initiatives, including internal/external stakeholder relations.

Prior to her service with Denver, Nelson held multiple roles with M.A. Mortenson Company’s Denver Operating Group; most notably as a chief spokesperson and lead change agent in corporate compliance and social responsibility initiatives. 

In both her public and private sector roles, she has focused on the implementation of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion principles within practices, policies and procedures of large organizations, community and small business engagement, economic equity for disadvantaged, small, minority, women and veteran owned businesses, leading efforts to advance professional development and career opportunities for underrepresented industry professionals, and helping to eradicate opportunity gaps for students through exposure to industry related professional and trade skill jobs.

Over the course of her career, she has served on numerous boards and committees focused on workforce development, small business equity and supporting military veterans. Currently, she serves as President of the Colorado Chapter for the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO); the Colorado Contractor Academy board; and the Aurora Public Schools Foundation Board.

She is a Denver Business Journal ‘40 Under 40’ recipient and has completed numerous leadership development programs including Leadership Denver of the Denver Metro Leadership Foundation and the Chamber Connect Leadership Program where she received the highest award of “Distinguished” graduate and the “Empowerment” award ‘for being committed to bringing the best out of others.’ 

Marsha is a thoughtful, decisive, collaborative, and results driven leader that leads by convening diverse perspectives to weave together the collective. She leans in to ensure all voices are welcome and heard.

In her free time, she enjoys traveling and volunteering with the ‘Women of Hope’ of her home church, New Hope Baptist Church in Denver, Colorado.

 

Dominique Gómez

Colorado Energy Office (“CEO”) representative

Dominique Gómez

Dominique Gómez is the Deputy Director of the Colorado Energy Office which works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and consumer energy costs by advancing energy, energy efficiency and zero emissions vehicles to benefit all Coloradans. 

Prior to this role, she served as the Program Director at the Salazar Center at Colorado State University where she focused on climate adaptation and resilience, and as Chief Operating Officer at WaterSmart Software where she worked on operations at a fast-growing startup. 

Dominique is a Commissioner at Denver Water and a member of the Board at Cascadia Consulting, a sustainability consulting firm based in Seattle, as well as Communities Unlimited, a nonprofit serving rural counties with persistent poverty. She lives in Denver with her husband and young daughters.

 

 

 

Doug Dean

Public Utilities Commission (“PUC”) representative

Doug Dean

Doug Dean became Director of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in March 2005.
The PUC regulates rates and services provided by Colorado public utilities. These utilities include electrical, common carrier, pipeline, gas, telephone, and water corporations, all of which supply services to the public.

Prior to becoming Director of the PUC, Mr. Dean served as the Colorado Insurance Commissioner for two years. He was an active member of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, serving as Chairman of the Interstate Compact Implementation Task Force and Chairman of the Collaborative Actions Group.

Mr. Dean was elected to four terms in the Colorado House of Representatives, serving on the Business Affairs and Labor Committee, the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, and the Education Committee where he served one term as Vice-Chairman. In 1999, his colleagues elected him as House Majority Leader, and in 2001 he was elected Speaker of the House.

In his tenure in the legislature, he sponsored several significant pieces of legislation including education reform, increased funding for charter schools, creation of Challenger Learning Centers in Colorado, inmate fraud prevention, college savings plans, increased funding for Colorado tourism, and the new Denver Broncos stadium. He also received numerous 'Legislator of the Year' awards.
 
Dean is married to Jenifer Waller and is the father of 4 children, 2 step-children, and has 2 grandchildren.

 

Jordan Beezley

Department of Agriculture (“DOA”) representative

Jordan Beezley

Jordan Beezley is the Policy Advisor and Legislative Liaison for the Colorado Department of Agriculture. He has held several roles in state government, including heading the Broadband Fund grant program, overseeing investigations for the real estate industry, and managing the conservation easement tax credit and holder certification programs. Jordan has also worked for Colorado University-Boulder and several land conservation and environmental nonprofits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jonathan Asher

Governor’s Office representative

Jonathan Asher

Jonathan Asher serves as Governor Polis’s senior policy advisor for natural resources and environmental issues. Originally from Evergreen, Jonathan returned to Colorado in 2020 after fifteen years in Washington, D.C., with roughly half that time spent on Capitol Hill in senior energy, public lands and environmental policy roles. Jonathan served as an appointee of President Obama at the Environmental Protection Agency in the Administrator’s legislative affairs office. In that role he witnessed first-hand the impact of state and local governmental decision-making on environmental justice through experience gained during the Flint water crisis response. 

Most recently, Jonathan served as The Wilderness Society’s Director of Government Relations for Conservation Funding where he provided expertise on conservation funding and the federal appropriations process and served as the Co-Chair of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition, working for passage of the Dingel Conservation Act and Great American Outdoors Act. Jonathan is a graduate of the University of Colorado, Boulder and Evans Scholarship recipient. Prior to his time in Washington, D.C. he spent his days as a whitewater raft guide on the Colorado River and an adaptive ski and snowboard instructor.

 

Appointed by the General Assembly:

Hilda Nucete

Representative of disproportionately impacted communities (Congressional District 7), appointed by Speaker of the House Alec Garnett

Hilda Nucete

Hilda Nucete grew up in Caracas, Venezuela. In 2007 she moved to Colorado due to the difficult political situation in the country. Shortly after arriving in America, Hilda became greatly interested in social, racial, and environmental justice issues, which ignited her passion to become an environmental justice advocate fighting against climate change by promoting clean energy for a healthy future for all Coloradans. 

In January 2014, she studied International Business and French at the Université Blaise Pascal in Vichy, France. She also graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in International Studies with an emphasis in Latin America and Europe and a minor in French language and culture. Hilda began her career in environmental justice as an organizer and later transitioned as the Protégete Program Director with Conservation Colorado. 

Currently, Hilda is the Civic Engagement Director for the League of Conservation Voters where she supports the implementation of a multistate voter engagement operation that focuses on increasing civic participation of Black, Indigenous, Immigrants, and People of Color who are disproportionately impacted by environmental issues but also disproportionately disenfranchised at the voting booth. 

Hilda currently serves as the Co-Chair for the Health Equity Commission advising CDPHE through the Office of Health Equity on health equity issues, focusing on alignment, education, and capacity-building for state and local health programs and community-based organizations. In addition, the commission advises the Health Disparities and Community Grant Program and collaborates with CDPHE and the Governor's Office to develop a statewide equity report and strategic plan outlined in Senate Bill 21-181. 

Hilda is also a mentor at LIPS Institute (Latinas Increasing Political Strength) and a Volunteer Leader for Headwaters Protectors, a local nonprofit providing compassionate water and trash services to people experiencing homelessness in Denver, CO.

 

Mara Brosy-Wiwchar

Representative of the renewable energy industry, appointed by Speaker of the House Alec Garnett

Mara Brosy-Wiwchar

Mara Brosy-Wiwchar is a public policy professional with nearly 15 years’ experience at the state and national levels. Working with a “community first” approach, she has led government offices to be better partners with constituents and community leaders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ean Tafoya

Representative of an organization that carries out initiatives related to environmental justice, appointed by Speaker of the House Alec Garnett

Ean Tafoya

Ean is active in Denver Public Affairs, Colorado Public Policy, and Federal Environmental Policy. He has worked for three branches of local government, worked at three levels of American government, run for Denver City Council, and has directed many local and state political races. Currently, he serves as the Colorado State Director for GreenLatinos. Ean has received recognition for his work from both the Denver Regional Council of Governments, the Denver Regional Air Quality Council, and most recently was named a River Hero by the National River Network. He loves to dance whether it be at a concert or in politics! As Mr. Denver, a local music DJ and radio host, he uses the media to uplift locals in the community. Follow Ean @believeEan on all platforms. 

Ean is a water protector that holds a B.A. in Political Science with a Minor in Native American Studies, a Water Studies Certificate, and Early Childhood Education Certificate from Metropolitan State University of D
enver as well as a Horticultural Therapy Certificate for Colorado State University.

 

 

Renée Millard-Chacon

Representative of an organization that carries out initiatives related to environmental justice, appointed by Speaker of the House Alec Garnett

Renée Millard-Chacon

Renee M. Chacon, is Diné/Xicana/ Filipina from Southern Colorado and New Mexico. She is a Sahumadora for Kalpulli ColorAztlan and is the Co Founder and Executive Director of Womxn from the Mountain for transforming education through justice, art, and cultural education. 
www.womxnfromthemountain.com 

She works as a Cultural Educator in several environmental justice initiatives to stop environmental racism in Commerce City CO with Suncor Sundown. Check out the film and how to please share, support, and protect disproportionately impacted communities from the cumulative impacts of particulate pollution, climate change, and predatory behaviors.

 

 

 

Kimberly Mendoza-Cooke

Representative of disproportionately impacted communities (Congressional District 7), appointed by House Minority Leader Hugh McKean

Kimberly Mendoza-Cooke

Ms. Mendoza-Cooke is the Director of Policy and Advocacy for Oxy USA Inc. (OXY). Kim leads state and local affairs, including policy and external engagement for Oxy’s Rockies assets and is a member of Oxy’s Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Advisory Board. Kim has over 20 years of policy, regulatory and land development experience with a focus on energy and residential development issues. Kim is also an OXY advocate that works to maintain social license to operate by establishing and fostering relationships with local government officials and key stakeholders for the company’s Rockies assets.

Kim earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Nevada Las Vegas and received a Master of Business Administration from Regis University. She served on the Board of Directors for Girls Inc of Metro Denver for six years and continues to proudly serve on Girls Inc’s Advocacy Advisory Committee and the Jefferson County Planning Commission. She lives with her husband, ten year old son and two furry friends in Jeffco.
 

Michael Sapp

Representative of interests of people of color, appointed by House Minority Leader Hugh McKean

Michael Sapp

Michael Sapp is the Manager of State Government Affairs for Xcel Energy, Public Service Company of Colorado (PSCo). He works with public officials, state agency staff, industry representatives and other government affairs professionals to create positive public policy outcomes for Colorado’s environment, economy and customers served by Xcel Energy.

Michael is a former mayoral appointee with Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock.  He served as a legislative liaison in the Department of Safety. He was also responsible for coordinating various public involvement strategies undertaken by departments across the city to ensure alignment with the Mayor’s priorities and goals including the Platte to Park Hill Stormwater Systems program, Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) program and Coronavirus 19 public education and community response programs and services.

Michael’s greatest strengths are his compassion for people, work ethic, integrity and leadership. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Morehouse College, Atlanta GA. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Metro Water Recovery, Denver Park Trust and RISE 5280.  

Michael loves to travel, root for the Denver Broncos, and spend quality time with family and friends.

 

Tyson Johnston

Tyson Johnston

Representative of the nonrenewable energy industry, appointed by House Minority Leader Hugh McKean

Tyson Johnston is the Vice President of Gunnison Energy LLC, producing and developing natural gas resources on the West Slope of Colorado. Tyson has dedicated his work in the Oil & Natural Gas industry to the responsible development of our domestic resources. He believes that in the pursuit of a cleaner energy future, we must ensure energy remains affordable and accessible to all. Tyson has been an integral part of Colorado’s progression to a more environmentally sustainable Oil & Gas producing state as an expert witness and active participant in every major rule making the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission has promulgated since 2008. 

Tyson is also the Chairman of Senator James Coleman’s (Senate District 33) Energy, Environment & Natural Resources Cabinet. Tyson is not only passionate about Energy, but he is also a champion for the diversification of the industry professionals. He has worked with American Petroleum Institute (API) and urban leaders to promote the expansion of women and minority roles within energy. 

Tyson has 4 beautiful children with his wife Abby and enjoys spending his free time with them and their family dog Tilly. Whether coaching/spectating sporting events, fly fishing in the mountains or traveling to new places in the world, the “Johnston Clan” values their family time together enjoying Earth’s many adventures.

 

Beatriz Soto

Representative of disproportionately impacted communities (Congressional District 3), appointed by Senate President Leroy Garcia

Beatriz Soto

Beatriz is originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, through her childhood and youth she grew up in a bi-cultural setting between Mexico and the United States. She graduated from Basalt High School as an undocumented youth and went on to study architecture in Chihuahua City. Having the opportunity to work in both with the US and Mexico Green Building Councils, she has engaged in a diverse range of architectural and community projects, always with a focus on environmental and social justice.
 
In her 15 years of architectural experience, Beatriz worked on a variety of energy related projects, from Net-Zero affordable housing projects to high performance strawbale homes, sustainable developments in the pacific coast of Mexico, as well as providing professional trainings with the US and with the Mexican Green Building Council. Beatriz developed the first building science bilingual program for just transition and empowerment of construction workforce, which she ran for the Community Office of Resources Efficiency in Pitkin County.

 
Regularly being a part of two different worlds, she tries to bring people together and be a liaison for people in any community she’s a part of; from Chihuahua City, to the tiny beach town of San Pancho, to the Roaring Fork Valley.
 
She is former Director of Defiende Nuestra Tierra for Wilderness Workshop, co-founding member of  Voces Unidas de las Montañas, a local non-profit organization in the central mountain region, made up of latinx leaders that help create opportunities for leaders to speak and advocate for themselves, as well as Vision Latina, a local collaborative of women working together to empower Latinos in the Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valleys. She currently is the Director of Protegete, a statewide program from Conservation Colorado, who has the mission to elevate Latino driven solutions to protect our lands, water, air and fight for environmental and climate justice.
 
Beatriz volunteers in local schools to encourage latinx youth to see themselves as leaders in Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, become stewards of the land and to understand the importance of their voice in environmental and social issues. She is the proud mother of a 10 year old Colorado Native, together they enjoy camping, hiking, snowboarding and eating tacos.

 

Meera Fickling

Representative of an organization that carries out initiatives related to environmental justice, appointed by Senate President Leroy Garcia

Meera Fickling

Meera Fickling is a Senior Climate Policy Analyst at Western Resource Advocates (WRA), where she promotes policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, achieve state-level climate goals, and accelerate a transition toward renewables, energy efficiency, and lower carbon fuels. As part of this advocacy, she supports measures that benefit frontline communities, which have historically borne disproportionate harms from air and water pollution. 

Prior to WRA, Meera was an Industry Economist at the U.S. Energy Information Administration and a coordinator for USAID clean energy development projects that expanded energy access in the Caribbean, Central America, and Central Asia. She has research experience in carbon markets and climate change economics. Ms. Fickling earned a Master of Environmental Management degree from Duke University and a B.A. in Economics from the College of William and Mary.

 

 

 

Gary Arnold

Representative of an organization that represents worker interests in disproportionately impacted communities, appointed by Senate President Leroy Garcia

Gary Arnold

Gary Arnold is the Business Manager of United Association (UA) Pipefitters Local 208.

As Business Manager since 2017, and a member of the Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee since 2008, Gary has worked to enhance recruitment, training, and retention of pipefitting apprentices. He formed the Women in the Trades Committee in addition to the Apprenticeship Student Council. He develops educational standards, curriculum, operations, and funding to improve apprenticeship training, journeymen continuing education, and specialized training programs. He has 7 years of experience as a Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee Instructor and 2 years as Head Training Director.

Gary Arnold’s career includes 13+ years of experience as an industrial/commercial pipefitter, supporting expansion projects for Amgen Biotechnology Company, FedEx, Miller-Coors, and Breckenridge Brewery.


He earned 6 awards during his apprenticeship, including the UA International contest for welding. 

Gary’s leadership of educational efforts in the trade has earned him several appointments by state and city leaders, including a 3-year appointment by the Governor of Colorado in 2019 to the Business Experiential Learning Commission, in which he guides development of youth apprenticeship programs for multiple industry sectors. Gary also currently serves on the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission and the Air Quality Enterprise Board.

 

Jamie Valdez

Representative of the interests of people of color, appointed by Senate President Leroy Garcia

Jamie Valdez

Jamie is a multicultural native of Pueblo Colorado and a parent and grandparent with multigenerational roots in southern Colorado. His educational background is in Electronics Engineering Technology and Psychology and he is currently employed as a Community Organizer for Mothers Out Front, a climate justice organization with the goal of a livable climate for all children. 

Jamie is a former President of the CSU-Pueblo chapter of El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA), a national student organization with the goal of empowering the Latin-American community through higher learning, and a founding member of Occupy Pueblo, which was the local chapter of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Having come from these and similar racial and economic justice movements and recognizing the urgency of the climate crisis, environmental justice is a natural progression for Jamie. 

Along with his job with Mothers Out Front, he currently serves as Chair of the Sangre de Cristo Group of the Sierra Club and the Fountain Creek Water Sentinels and is a member of the Colorado Sierra Club Executive Committee. His activist background being primarily in equity and justice movements, he approaches all his work with an eye on equity, justice, and inclusivity.

 

 

Dr. Uni Blake

Representative that works to support public health and is an environmental toxicologist, appointed by Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert

Uni Blake

Uni Blake is a Senior Policy Advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API) with over 20 years of multidisciplinary professional experience in environmental health, focusing on exposure assessments, human health risk assessments, and chemical and toxicological regulatory compliance.  Ms. Blake received her undergraduate degree in Chemistry from the College of Wooster (Wooster, Ohio), her graduate degree in Toxicology from the American University (Washington, DC). She is currently working on a doctorate at George Washington University (Washington, DC) in Environmental and Occupational Health. Her research area focuses on environmental factors that influence population exposures.

 

 

 

 

 

Arthur Ortegon

Representative of the interests of people of color, appointed by Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert

Arthur Ortegon

Arthur is admitted to practice law in Colorado and brings expertise in municipal, state, and federal policy and regulatory issues. With a decade of public sector experience, he received professional political appointments in the Mayor’s Office for the City of Denver, Colorado General Assembly, Colorado Governor’s Office, and the White House. Arthur’s experience includes government relations, legal, regulatory, political, community investment, and external affairs operations within telecommunications, transportation, and mass media sectors. Early in his career, Arthur was a judicial law clerk for Justice Nathan “Ben” Coats of the Colorado Supreme Court and served as a Congressional Relations Assistant in the General Services Administration under President George W. Bush.

Arthur received his J.D. from Washington College of Law at American University and a B.A. in political science and psychology from University of Pennsylvania.

Arthur is married to McKinsie Ortegon and they have two children — a daughter named Isla and a son named Briggs. In his personal time, Arthur enjoys skiing, tennis, reading, and traveling to new and exotic places to pursue his passion for the collection and study of butterflies.
 

 

 

 

 

Appointed by Tribal Governments

  • [TBD]
  • [TBD]

Appointed by Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert  

  • [TBD]
  • [TBD]

Appointed by House Minority Leader Hugh McKean

  • [TBD]

Submit a comment to the Environmental Justice Action Task Force

Please email your comments to cdphe_ej@state.co.us with “EJATF” in the subject line

Meeting materials

 

Environmental Justice Ombudsperson

The Environmental Justice Ombudsperson is a new role within CDPHE. It was created by the Environmental Justice Act (House Bill 21-1266).

The Ombudsperson is appointed by the Governor. They report directly to CDPHE Executive Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan. The Ombudsperson receives administrative support from the Environmental Justice Unit, but is otherwise independent.

The Ombudsperson’s duties include:

  • Collaborating with the Environmental Justice Advisory Board to promote environmental justice.
  • Providing multiple means for residents of disproportionately impacted communities to contact the ombudsperson about environmental-related matters.
  • Working to improve the relationship between CDPHE and residents of disproportionately impacted communities through open, honest, frequent, and straightforward communication.
  • Earning the trust of disproportionately impacted community residents by responding directly to community questions that pertain to environmental justice matters.
  • Increasing the two-way flow of information between CDPHE and disproportionately impacted communities on environmental subjects.
  • Disseminating information through local schools, social media, local activity clubs, libraries, and other local services.
  • Prioritizing in-person meetings in communities with populations that are predominantly Black, Indigenous, Latino, or Asian-American, communities where median income is below the state’s average, and in rural locations.
  • Identifying ways to enable meaningful participation by disproportionately impacted communities in CDPHE decision-making processes.
  • Developing and implementing a process to receive complaints and inquiries for matters pertaining to environmental justice by maintaining a phone number, website, email address, and mailing address.
  • Establishing procedures to address complaints pertaining to environmental justice to the extent practicable.
  • Coordinating with the Office of Health Equity.
  • Working with CDPHE leadership to report to the Air Quality Control Commission on equitable progress towards Colorado’s greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.
  • Serving in an advisory capacity for other state agencies on engagement with disproportionately impacted communities in light of proposed agency actions.
  • Serving as an advocate for disproportionately impacted communities in CDPHE decision-making processes related to policies that implicate environmental justice.


Do you have a complaint about the performance of the Environmental Justice Ombudsperson?  You may submit that complaint to the Environmental Justice Advisory Board by emailing cdphe_ej@state.co.us.

Meet the Environmental Justice Ombudsperson

Marcus Howell, Envrionmental Justice Ombudsperson

Marcus Howell

Born and raised in Colorado, Marcus Howell graduated with a Bachelors of Political Science from Colorado State University.  As a devoted community organizer for the past decade and Director of Constituent Services in the Governor's Office for the past three years, Marcus is passionate about serving the state and its people. As the Environmental Justice Ombudsperson, he is eager to serve disproportionately impacted communities as a liaison and advocate. In his free time, Marcus enjoys spending time outside with his family and sharing good food with friends.

Environmental justice mapping

To advance environmental justice we need mapping tools that identify disproportionately impacted communities. We know that our mapping tools are only effective if community members are part of the process of creating them.
Our mapping tools help us direct funding and other resources to the communities that need them most. 

 

Colorado EnviroScreen

CDPHE is developing an environmental justice mapping tool called Colorado EnviroScreen.

 

Climate Equity Data Viewer

The Climate Change Unit has also developed a Climate Equity Data Viewer. It will help prioritize engagement efforts and evaluate the potential impacts of climate-related policy decisions.

The Climate Equity Data Viewer uses population and environmental factors to calculate a climate equity score. Areas with a higher climate equity score have more potential impacts from climate change than other communities. There are scores for each census block group in Colorado. You can learn more on the Climate Equity Data Viewer webpage.

 

Data Viewer of Disproportionately Impacted Communities

While Colorado EnviroScreen is under development, CDPHE has created an interim Data Viewer of Disproportionately Impacted Communities.
The map shows areas that meet the Environmental Justice Act definition of “Disproportionately Impacted Community.”

It shows census block groups where: more than 40% of households are:

  • Low-income
  • Housing cost-burdened, or
  • Include people of color. 

The Environmental Justice Act has other criteria for disproportionately impacted communities. We are identifying the areas that meet other parts of the definition through the Colorado Enviroscreen tool.
 

Environmental justice jobs

Current environmental justice positions open at CDPHE

About Us - Environmental Justice Program

Environmental Justice Program Manager

Joel Minor (he/him)  joel.minor@state.co.us

Photo of smiling gentleman in front of a mountain

Joel joined CDPHE in June 2021. He most recently served in the Natural Resources and Environment Section of the Attorney General’s Office, where he represented the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission staff in the agency’s rulemakings to implement Senate Bill 19-181. Prior to the AG’s Office, Joel was a senior associate attorney at Earthjustice, where he represented north Denver community organizations in environmental justice matters and conservation and tribal community groups in litigation over federal oil and gas regulations and leasing decisions.

Before joining Earthjustice, Joel clerked for the Hon. Carlos F. Lucero of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. Joel earned his J.D. and M.S. in environmental science with a concentration in atmospheric science at Stanford, and a B.A. in Environmental Policy at Colorado College.

Joel is a 6th generation Coloradan who spends his spare time reading and writing fantasy and sci-fi, running, and playing board games.

 

 

Environmental Justice Air Quality Liaison

Nathalie Eddy (she/hers)  nathalie.eddy@state.co.us

Smiling woman outdoor on a dirt trail

For over 20 years, Nathalie has focused much of her environmental and legal career on raising the voice of disproportionately impacted communities to strengthen environmental and public health outcomes and advocate for environmental justice. From Colorado youth-led dreams of adventure to international efforts to raise the ambition of the Paris Climate agreement,

Nathalie advocates for transparency, accountability, and community-driven change. In her recent role with Earthworks, Nathalie worked with communities impacted by oil and gas extraction across Colorado and New Mexico and conducted fieldwork to document oil and gas pollution. Prior to Earthworks, she was the Healthy Kids Director for Get Outdoors Leadville!, where she helped launch a community and youth-driven organization connecting kids to nature in Lake County.

Nathalie earned her J.D. focusing on international law and human rights from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., her D.E.S.S. in environmental law from the Université Robert Schuman (Strasbourg, France), and her B.A. from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Nathalie grew up in the foothills of Littleton and now lives in Leadville with her family. She loves high mountain living and spends as much time as possible playing outside in the sun and snow chasing kids and donkeys. 


Environmental Justice Boards Manager

Lubna Ahmed (she/hers)  lubna.ahmed@state.co.us

Smiling woman with long, dark hair standing in front of a wooden fence

Lubna Ahmed is passionate about working at the community level to build capacity and advance the sustainable well-being of under-resourced and disproportionately impacted populations. Lubna was born and raised in Ohio and holds a BA in Psychology from Miami University and a Master’s in Public Health from George Washington University.

After working at a variety of environmental conservation nonprofits in DC, Lubna served as an Environmental Educator with the Peace Corps in Nicaragua and returned to the states to work as the Director of Environmental Health at WE ACT for Environmental Justice in Harlem, NY. She most recently joined CDPHE’s Environmental Justice Unit after working as the Director of Water Program at Groundwork Denver.

Lubna loves all things food including cooking, baking, and of course eating. She enjoys hiking, dancing, drawing, gardening, watching and reading sci-fi, and playing the ukulele.

 

 

Environmental Justice Translation & Interpretation Specialist

Rosario Russi (she/hers)  rosario.russi@state.co.us

Smiling woman with short brown hair, black wire frame glasses wearing a headset with microphone

Rosario studied law, linguistics, literature, and French translation and interpretation in her native country of Uruguay. She emigrated to the US as a young adult, where she has worked as a Spanish translator and interpreter for the past 30+ years

Throughout her career, Rosario has specialized in Education/Special Education, Health, and Marketing, and freelanced for many years, providing services in all stages of the translation process for publishing houses like Pearson/Scott Foresman, McDougal Littell, and Houghton Mifflin, a wide variety of agencies, and several Colorado organizations. Rosario served as an in-house translator and interpreter for Jeffco Public Schools, Denver Public Schools and, most recently, for Children’s Hospital Colorado. She has translated a variety of materials, including some weather-related apps and a series of award-winning educational materials about the climate for UCAR.

Rosario thoroughly enjoys being a language conduit and is very passionate about advocating for language equity and empowering second language learner communities. She loves traveling and learning how other people live, as much across the globe as across town. Hiking, yoga, indoor cycling are some of her favorite practices, as well as reading or watching good survival stories. Rosario is also a Certified Massage Therapist and Aerobics Instructor.

Contact Us

Email us: cdphe_ej@state.co.us
If you have ideas, feedback, or questions about environmental justice, please send them to us!

Stay up to date: use our online sign-up 
Subscribe to email notifications about environmental justice events and other important updates.