30+ CO Advocates Respond to CDPHE Draft Climate Equity Framework: Open letter offers feedback on draft framework and makes recommendations to ensure equitable climate planning process and outcomes
March 25, 2021
Contact: Ean Thomas Tafoya, Colorado Field Advocate at GreenLatinos, email@example.com, 720-621-8985
Denver, CO – More than 30 Colorado climate equity advocates sent a letter to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE) today to provide feedback on the Draft Climate Equity Framework ahead of its April 5 comment deadline and offer detailed recommendations for improvement. The letter calls on CDPHE to boldly address climate inequity by shifting decision making authority to communities disproportionately impacted by climate change and pollution, and putting in place concrete, measurable benchmarks for policy outcomes.
The recommendations in the letter include three key components:
- Identifying and analyzing historical and ongoing sources of environmental, energy, and climate injustice;
- Creating meaningful community engagement by shifting power and decision making rather than solely sharing information; and
- Ensuring equitable outcomes and concrete progress to improve environmental, health, and economic outcomes in disproportionately impacted communities.
“Historical and present-day environmental racism continue to threaten the health and well-being of marginalized communities across Colorado,” reads the letter, which is available in full here. “All people deserve the same right to clean air and water; however, state policies and corporate pollution have disproportionately polluted Black, Indigenous, Latino, and other communities of color and left them with less access to economic and social resources.
“Many communities in Colorado—especially rural—are also disproportionately impacted by the economic transition from traditional fuel sources. The oil and gas, electric generation, transportation, and manufacturing industries have covered towns and cities in hazardous smog, replaced vibrant economies with dependent, boom and bust ones, created and exacerbated serious health issues like respiratory diseases and asthma, and eroded local autonomy by disenfranchising disproportionately impacted communities. This cannot continue. Moving forward, we must center equity in climate decision making to ensure a safe and just future—and a transition to a sustainable economy—for all Coloradans.”
“We need to see actions that only have positive and regenerative impacts for families and communities,” said Commerce City resident Lucy Molina. “We spend so much time fighting other forms of inequity like wages and housing, that it becomes difficult to fight for what is right in the environment. We shouldn’t even have to do this—clean air and water are human rights! Add to this the unfortunate and tragic amount of time and money that we spend on healthcare. Somehow we still find time to fight this unjust system full of antiquated procedures that exclude our voices by design. Our comments reflect how this first draft was inadequate to meet the needs of our communities. We want this process to succeed because it means everything for the future generations. Work with us to dismantle these systems and build a better world.”
“We need a real commitment from our state regulators to not only be open to hearing voices from impacted communities, but to prioritize them and actually seek them out and work with them for the best outcomes based in health and equity,” said Pueblo resident Jaime Valdez.
“Pueblo has been used as a sacrifice zone by corporations as well as by state legislators and regulators for far too long. Part of the reason is because low-income communities are only empowered with political capital during elections and thereafter are seen as easy pickings for corporations. Time and resources to participate in regulatory processes is a privilege—a privilege that the CEO’s, attorneys, and lobbyists for corporations enjoy because it’s their job. It’s a privilege working-class people of Pueblo and other similar communities across Colorado simply do not share. This sets up a situation where our voices are systematically left out of the conversation and state regulators are left in an echo chamber where the voices of the very same entities they’re charged with regulating are amplified.”
Signatories include representatives from 350 Colorado, CatholicNetwork and Call to Action Colorado, Clean Energy Action, Climate Reality Denver Metro Chapter, Colorado Businesses for a Livable Climate, Colorado Fiscal Institute, Colorado Rising, Colorado Sierra Club, Conservation Colorado, Corazon Latino, Defiende Nuestra Tierra, E2, Earthjustice, Environmental Defense Fund, GreenLatinos, GRID Alternatives Colorado, Groundwork Denver, Healthy Air & Water Colorado, Mile High Connects, Moms Clean Air Force Colorado Chapter, North Range Concerned Citizens, NRDC, Protégete, San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council, Sierra Club – Beyond Coal, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, Vote Solar, Western Resource Advocates, WildEarth Guardians, Wilderness Workshop, and Wind & Solar Denver.
CDPHE is accepting feedback on the Draft Climate Equity Framework through April 5, 2021. Following the deadline for public input, CDPHE will revise and finalize the framework.