2019 Suncor Settlement SEP Community Process

 
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2019 Suncor Settlement, Supplemental Environmental Projects

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’s website for additional information regarding the Suncor Settlement.

  1. How will the department be engaging the community for these Supplemental Environmental Projects?
  2. What will the Supplemental Environmental Project funds be used for?
  3. Where will the Supplemental Environmental Projects happen?
  4. How will potential Supplemental Environmental Projects be evaluated?
  5. What is the process for awarding the Supplemental Environmental Project funding?
  6. Who is on the Supplemental Environmental Project evaluation committee?
  7. How can I be part of this community engagement process or give feedback?
  8. How does the Supplemental Environmental Project community engagement process connect to other efforts happening in the area?
  9. What’s the timeline for the Supplemental Environmental Project process?
  10. How do I submit a Supplemental Environmental Project application for funding?

How will the department be engaging the community for these Supplemental Environmental Projects?

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 timing and format of engagement will depend on the relaxation of stay-at-home and other restrictions associated with COVID-19.

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What will the Supplemental Environmental Project funds be used for?

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. 

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Where will the Supplemental Environmental Projects happen?

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. 

The full list of priority areas and neighborhoods will be created during the community engagement process. Areas may include, but are not limited to, North Denver neighborhoods, neighborhoods in unincorporated Adams County, and Southern Commerce City neighborhoods near the Suncor refinery.

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How will potential Supplemental Environmental Projects be evaluated?

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).

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What is the process for awarding the Supplemental Environmental Project funding?

  1. Conducting community engagement in the communities around Suncor to learn about existing priorities and build the criteria for evaluating potential Supplemental Environmental Projects.
  2. 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.
  3. Forming an evaluation committee to evaluate Supplemental Environmental Project applications and make funding selections.

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Who is on the Supplemental Environmental Project evaluation committee? 

The number and qualifications of the evaluation committee members is still being determined. The committee must include at least one staff person from CDPHE, one Suncor representative, and representatives of the communities around Suncor. The final makeup of the evaluation committee will depend upon information from the community meetings. Committee members will be selected by CDPHE based upon feedback from community leader conversations, community meetings, and survey responses.

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How can I be part of this community engagement process or give feedback?

We welcome feedback from everyone in the geographic area. Anyone in the surrounding communities can participate. Please participate in the community engagement meetings if you live in the areas surrounding Suncor, to be held once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Community members of the area will also be able to complete an online survey to provide their input.

More information on the survey and how to be involved will be posted on this webpage and in other communication channels once available.

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How does the Supplemental Environmental Project community engagement process connect to other efforts happening in the area?

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.

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What’s the timeline for the Supplemental Environmental Project process?

At this time, projects must still be selected by October 2, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 response, the timeline for community engagement has been extended to allow for the possibility of in-person forums. An extension may be considered to ensure adequate time for community engagement and Supplemental Environmental Project application preparation and evaluation. 

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How do I submit a Supplemental Environmental Project application for funding?

The Supplemental Environmental Project application submission process will be opened after the initial community engagement takes place to determine the criteria and community priorities for the “Request for Applications.” More information about the Supplemental Environmental Project application process will be made available on this page once the application window nears.

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Contact for more information

Alex Helling

SEP Coordinator, CDPHE

alex.helling@state.co.us

303-692-2135

Over the phone interpretation is available.