CDPHE seeks public feedback on plan to monitor for air pollutants and disclose more data from Suncor refinery

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REMOTE (March 10, 2022): The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is seeking public comment on a plan for additional air monitoring and data disclosure at the Suncor Refinery in Commerce City.  As part of its commitment to listening to feedback from those communities most affected by the refinery, CDPHE held the first of two public meetings Wednesday night to discuss a plan for fenceline air monitoring at the refinery. The Air Toxics Act (HB21-1189), signed into law by Governor Polis in 2021, requires Suncor Energy to submit the monitoring plan, which is available online in both English and Spanish, as well as public comment opportunities.  Coloradans can send comments to

“We know how important air quality monitoring at the refinery is to the surrounding community, and we are committed to listening carefully to the insight the community has to offer,” said Shaun McGrath, director of environmental health and protection at CDPHE. “We want to ensure Suncor’s plan is responsive to residents and their concerns and priorities.”

Under the law, CDPHE must approve the plan, which details how Suncor will monitor and disclose information about pollutants at the refinery’s perimeter. The public can submit written comments on the plan by April 5.

CDPHE provided Spanish interpretation at the meeting, which was held in the evening to allow greater participation. A second meeting is scheduled for March 12. Registration for the March 12 meeting is still open. 

The Air Toxics Act requires continuous air monitoring as part of the fenceline monitoring program, as well as collection and online distribution of data from that monitoring. 

Michael Ogletree, director of the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division, made the following statement at Wednesday’s meeting:

“Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak with you this evening. Before we get into discussions about Suncor’s fenceline monitoring plan that is the topic of tonight's meeting, I wanted to offer some more general comments about the refinery, and CDPHE’s approach to regulating its operations.

“The Suncor Refinery presents a monumental and complex environmental challenge for area residents and the state as a whole.  It is the largest single source of air pollutants in the Denver metro area, emitting close to 2,000 tons of harmful air emissions per year and nearly 1 million tons of greenhouse gasses.

“The refinery’s location within a heavily populated urban area that has been and continues to be disproportionately impacted by a multitude of mobile and stationary air pollution sources perpetuates the history of environmental injustice that plagues our society. 

“Given all this, it is essential that the Suncor refinery meet the highest standards for environmental performance.  But unfortunately Suncor is currently falling far short of this goal. The facility continues to have an unacceptably high level of non-compliance. As noted in the Root Cause Analysis Report required under the 2020 enforcement action against Suncor, there is a culture at the company that tolerates deviations leading to emission violations from various sources at the facility.  This needs to change, and Suncor can’t continue with business as usual or enacting half measures to improve performance.  What is needed is an aggressive and continual approach to improving performance built on sound science and a commitment to eliminating non-compliance and establishing additional measures to reduce emissions from the facility.  

“And the state needs to use its power to ensure that this happens. 

“We are making progress to ensure this happens, and are committed to further measures going forward. While we have made strides over the last couple of years with adoption of more stringent emission control requirements, increased air monitoring, and more aggressive enforcement of existing requirements, we recognize that we need to do more.

“The fenceline monitoring plan that we are discussing tonight is one part of that overall effort to better protect the health and well being of area residents. At the end of the day we need to ensure that the final monitoring plan serves this intended purpose and community voice is a vital part of this process  

“As representatives of the government, we need to hear your input to ensure information about air toxics emissions is made easily accessible to the communities who are directly impacted by it. 

“You are the experts in how to make information transparent and available in a way people in your community understand. Your voices matter because you know best how to communicate with your own community.  We will use your ideas to make sure that Suncor adjusts its draft fenceline monitoring plan to make information available to your community in a way that works for you.”