2019-2020 Suncor settlement
Supplemental environmental projects
Spanish language web page: sitio web en español.
Spanish language PDF version: información en español en el formato PDF.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on March 6, 2020 announced a $9 million settlement for air pollution violations at the Suncor refinery in Commerce City. The settlement addresses many events where Suncor emitted pollutants over set limits as well as violations relating to requirements of how facilities are operated and monitored. These events occurred since July 2017, including a significant increase in violations that occurred during the period from January through June 2019. The settlement also includes penalties for the “operational upset” and other violations that happened in December 2019.
$2,624,100 of the Suncor settlement will be used for Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) to benefit the surrounding communities. The settlement provides for a community process which involves community members serving on a committee to review and select the projects to implement.
Please see the CDPHE Air Pollution Control Division website for additional information regarding the Suncor Settlement.
How you can be involved in this process
The Evaluation Committee is currently meeting to review, score, and select the projects that will be funded. The previous deadline of selecting projects by March 31, 2021 has been extended to April 30, 2021, as the Evaluation Committee requested more time to make their decisions.
Meetings of the Evaluation Committee are open to the public. We request that anyone that is not a member of the Evaluation Committee turn off their camera and mute themselves upon entry to these meetings. Meetings are available in both English and Spanish.
Upcoming Evaluation Committee meetings
Upcoming meetings of the full Evaluation Committee are:
- April 15, 2021, 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. April 15 meeting Zoom link.
- April 19, 2021, 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. April 19 meeting Zoom link.
Past Evaluation Committee meetings
- January 28 meeting presentation slides.
- January 28 meeting minutes.
- February 13 meeting presentation slides.
- February 13 meeting minutes.
- February 27 meeting presentation slides.
- February 27 meeting minutes.
- March 8 Spanish language support meeting minutes (no slides were used).
- March 9 English language support meeting minutes (no slides were used).
- March 11 meeting presentation slides.
- March 11 meeting minutes.
- March 12 Spanish language support meeting minutes (no slides were used).
- March 22 meeting presentation slides.
- March 22 meeting minutes.
- March 26 meeting presentation slides.
- March 26 meeting minutes.
Evaluation committee updates
The application window to be on the Suncor settlement SEP Evaluation Committee closed on November 30, 2020. The application window was reopened for one week from December 14, 2020 through December 21, 2020 for applications from community members from unincorporated Adams County to ensure representation from these areas.
- The settlement with Suncor requires that community members, 1 Suncor representative, and 1 CDPHE representative be part of the evaluation committee. There are 9 spaces for community members on the evaluation committee.
- Feedback from community conversations showed a strong desire that evaluation committee members either live or spend a large majority of their time in the areas immediately around the Suncor refinery. Residents, organizational staff and leaders, school staff and teachers, youth, individuals that work in the health or environmental fields, members of the faith community, and elders from the communities around Suncor were encouraged to apply.
- The nine community members on the evaluation committee include four residents from Commerce City, four residents from North Denver, and one resident from Unincorporated Adams County. The group includes both monolinguist Spanish and English speakers and several bilingual participants.
- Evaluation Committee members include:
- Emily Broome - community member.
- Kyra Ann Dixon - community member.
- Armando Guardiola - community member.
- Maria E. De Luna Jimenez - community member.
- Lucy Molina - community member.
- Joshua Molock-Sanders - community member.
- Jose Palacios - community member.
- Leo Urbano - community member.
- Maria Zubia - community member.
- Brandy Radey - Suncor representative.
- Heather Wuollet - CDPHE representative.
The evaluation committee: Guidance, policy, and template disclosure form for addressing conflicts of interest.
Supplemental Environmental Project applications update
20 applications were submitted in response to the Request for Applications (RFA):
We participated in 36 conversations with community leaders, community organizations, and elected officials from the areas around Suncor, resulting in a draft request for applications document and draft parameters for the evaluation committee. We also conducted four focus groups with community members to help ensure community perspectives are being accurately reflected in the developed materials.
- Two virtual community forums for residents of the areas around Suncor were held to discuss the Suncor settlement and resulting Supplemental Environmental Projects process.
- A Spanish language virtual community forum with English interpretation was on September 23, 2020.
- A second community forum, in English with Spanish Interpretation, was on September 26, 2020.
- Both community forums covered the same topics. You can access the meeting notes from these community forums.
- A short survey in English and Spanish was also available through October 15, 2020 for community members unable to attend the community forums. This survey covered questions and topics similar to those explored during the community forums.
- Calls to seniors were also made.
We continue to work with the resident led evaluation committee to review, score, and select applications for funding.
The money will be spent on projects that benefit the environment and public health of the communities around Suncor. The department prefers that Supplemental Environmental Projects relate to the underlying environmental violation, which in this case would be air pollution. Any preferences for project type are guided by community engagement for large Supplemental Environmental Projects like this one. CDPHE will be meeting with the surrounding communities as part of the Supplemental Environmental Project community engagement process to determine their priorities and the evaluation criteria for using these funds.
Examples of ideas that came up during the community engagement process include:
- Restoration of natural areas, such as rivers.
- Urban restoration projects, like tree plantings or restoring park natural systems.
- Removal or mitigation of contaminated materials, such as contaminated soils, asbestos, and leaded paint.
- Installing solar power systems or connecting low income residents to renewable energy sources, such as solar coops or other innovative programs.
- More efficiently using energy, water, or other materials. Energy efficiency upgrades in buildings, home weatherization improvements, installation of equipment that reduces water usage, or the replacement of high emission gas or diesel equipment or vehicles with electric alternatives.
- Increasing community member awareness, understanding, and capacity on environmental issues, such as the connection between environmental pollutants and public health.
- Increasing community organization capacity to be involved in environmental work.
- Community environmental or public health liaisons or navigators.
- Installing pollutant monitors in partnership with communities, making the data readily available and transparent to community members, and identifying steps to take when pollutant levels are high.
- Increasing health equity and environmental justice in area communities.
- Research on impacts from environmental pollution on individual and community health.
- Mitigating the impact of environment pollutants on public health, such as through indoor air quality improvements (e.g. installing air filtration systems in buildings, schools, or homes).
This Supplemental Environmental Project funding may go to these or other types of projects that the community identifies as priorities for creating environmental or public health impacts.
Potential projects will be evaluated by the Supplemental Environmental Project evaluation committee, including consideration for which geographic communities will benefit. Priority will go to projects that provide benefits to the areas surrounding Suncor. These priority areas may include North Denver neighborhoods, neighborhoods in unincorporated Adams County, and Southern Commerce City neighborhoods near the Suncor refinery.
The community engagement process strongly informed the evaluation criteria and priorities that are being used to evaluate project applications, as captured in the request for application materials. This includes:
- Expected environmental or public health benefits, including the “bang for the buck” and feasibility of the projects.
- Inclusion of priority communities.
- Supporting community identified needs and delivering community impact.
- Clear and measurable results.
- Communication with the communities in the area.
Additionally, the request for applications identifies two priorities for applications. This includes:
- A geographic priority area that includes a 2 mile proximity to the refinery where Tier 1 priority projects should take place or generate benefits.
- A Tier 1 priority for community based applicants or full partnerships with community organizations and community members.
The committee must include at least one staff person from CDPHE, one Suncor representative, and nine representatives from the communities around Suncor. Committee members were selected based on guidelines developed though conversations with community leaders, community meetings, and survey responses. The names of the evaluation committee members were recently released at the top of this page.
Thank you to everyone that participated in the two community engagement meetings, four focus groups, many small group or one on one conversations, or completed the survey. We welcome ongoing feedback from everyone in the geographic area. The broad community engagement phase of this process has ended, but anyone can listen in to the ongoing meetings of the evaluation committee. Meeting links are at the top of this page.
Numerous large scale projects are currently active or planned in this area, including the CDOT I-70 corridor construction, the City and County of Denver’s planning and construction of the National Western Center complex, and state and EPA Superfund site work. Each of these efforts includes a component of community engagement as well, which can place additional burden on already overburdened residents and community leaders. To respect our community members' valuable time, CDPHE is coordinating with other projects in the area to identify areas for collaboration while keeping our focus on community priorities for Supplemental Environmental Project funds.
Projects must be selected by April 30, 2021. Due to the COVID-19 response, a first extension from October 2, 2020 to December 31, 2020 was granted. This timeline was further extended to March 31, 2021 to ensure adequate time to conduct community engagement and incorporate community guidance into processes and materials, and ensure the evaluation committee has enough time to make project selections. A final extension of one month to April 30, 2021 was made as the evaluation committee requested more time to make their decisions.
The application window to apply for funding closed January 15th, 2021. You can view or download the Request for Applications document or Convocatoria de Solicitudes document in Spanish, but applications are no longer being accepted.
You can access the Answers to questions about the RFA that were received during the application window.
- Two application information and discussion sessions, which were optional for interested applicants, were held. These sessions were intended to answer any questions from organizations interested in applying and provide a space for discussion.
- The sessions were held: