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 request for applications (RFA) is now available for organizations interested in applying for supplemental environmental projects funds resulting from the settlement with Suncor. The deadline for submitting project applications is extended 2 weeks, through 5 p.m. on January 15, 2021. All project applications must be received by the end of this application window. The request for applications is available in both English and Spanish.
Answers to many questions relating to the RFA can be found in the RFA Frequently Asked Questions. Please submit any additional questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Supplemental Environmental Project application process updates
- The deadline for submitting project applications is extended 2 weeks, through 5 p.m. on January 15, 2021. All applications must be received by this time. The request for applications is available in both English and Spanish.
- Two application information and discussion sessions, which are 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:
As a result of the extension for submitting applications, the deadline to submit questions about the RFA is also extended to 5:00 p.m. on January 5, 2021. To ensure all applicants have equal access to any discussed questions and answers, we are not able to answer any questions submitted after this time.
Engagement process updates
As of September 1, 2020, CDPHE has 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. Four focus groups with community members have also been conducted 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.
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. Notifications for committee members and applicants are being made the week of January 11.
- Feedback from community conversations show 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 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.
- Evaluation committee members will be asked to commit 20-30 hours of time through approximately five (5) two-hour meetings and 10-20 hours of application review time outside of meetings. Spanish translation and interpretation will be available. Stipends of $750 will be provided to each evaluation committee member from the community.
- The committee is expected to meet from January 2021 through March 2021. Project selections must be made by March 31, 2021.
The department’s engagement process for these Supplemental Environmental Projects includes:
- Working with a community advisor and external meeting facilitator to make sure engagement is centered on, and benefits, the area’s community residents.
- Hosting one-on-one or small group meetings with community leaders to understand and include their perspectives, priorities, and ideas on project criteria.
- Hosting several community meetings to talk with residents living in the area to inform the criteria and priorities that will be used to evaluate potential projects.
- Forming and empowering a Supplemental Environmental Projects evaluation committee, that includes representatives and/or residents of the surrounding communities, to review and select the projects to fund.
- Developing an online survey that residents and non-residents can take to provide feedback on Supplemental Environmental Projects evaluation criteria and funding priorities.
The money will be spent on projects that benefit the environment and public health of the communities around Suncor. The department typically 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 past Supplemental Environmental Projects include:
- Home energy and weatherization upgrades for low-income families.
- Solar energy installations.
- Building efficiency or lighting upgrades.
- Electric vehicle charging stations or purchases.
- Electric lawn mower purchases to replace gas powered machines.
- Environmental restoration projects, such as creek cleanups and tree plantings.
- Diesel emissions reduction projects.
- Environmental education projects.
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.
Potential projects will be evaluated with multiple criteria, including:
- Local community involvement and leadership.
- Amount of environmental or public health benefit.
- Cost effectiveness or bang for the buck.
- Likelihood of successful implementation.
- Incorporation of health equity and environmental justice principles.
- Project administrator experience and qualifications.
Additionally, the community engagement process will inform:
- The priority geographic areas where projects should take place or directly benefit.
- The types of projects that should get preference.
- Minimum or maximum dollar amounts of projects.
- Environmental project type (water, air, solid waste, and/or hazardous waste).
- Conducting community engagement in the communities around Suncor to learn about existing priorities and build the criteria for evaluating potential Supplemental Environmental Projects.
- Using information from the Supplemental Environmental Project community engagement process to develop the “request for applications,” or “RFA.” The request for applications will be made public and sent out to solicit applications for potential projects.
- Forming an evaluation committee to evaluate Supplemental Environmental Project applications and make funding selections.
The committee must include at least one staff person from CDPHE, one Suncor representative, and nine representatives from the communities around Suncor. Committee members will be selected based on guidelines developed though conversations with community leaders, community meetings, and survey responses. The goal is to form an evaluation committee that is representative of the different communities and demographics around the refinery.
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. Community members are also encouraged to apply to serve on the evaluation committee starting November 2, 2020.
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 March 31, 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.
The request for applications is open as of November 2, 2020, and will be open through 5 p.m. on December 31, 2020.