The Environmental Protection Agency is investigating Colorado's air pollution policy for potential environmental justice violations. The investigation is concerning whether the state's regulation of air pollution from industrial facilities disproportionately impacts Hispanic residents as well as other racial minorities, reports The Associated Press.
Many refineries across Colorado have had instances of malfunctions increasing the level of emissions in their surrounding areas. These areas tend to largely be minority communities. "We've always prioritized the health and wellbeing of every Coloradan no matter their zip code, but we know we have even more to do," said Trisha Oeth, Colorado Director of Environmental Health and Protection.
The investigation is under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which states that nobody can be subjected to discrimination under a federally-funded program or activity. The EPA has been working on the investigation since March, and has been fully supported by the state, AP continues.
One of the EPA's biggest concerns was how the state managed Suncor, Colorado's only oil refinery. The state tried to provide an air permit to the facility but was promptly blocked by the EPA due to "significant environmental justice concerns" and the lack of public input.
This investigation is part of a larger agenda of the Biden administration to tackle environmental justice violations. KC Becker, head of the EPA region including Colorado explained, "Colorado has been one of the states that has been a leader in addressing environmental justice in the legislature."