By: Shaina Oliver
Date: January 7, 2021
About: Suncor Plant 2 Title V Operating Permit Renewal
To: Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment
Thank you for letting me speak. I am Shaina Oliver, a field organizer for Moms Clean Air Force Colorado Chapter. We are a national organization of moms, dads, and caregivers united in fighting for our children’s right to breathe clean air and live in a safe environment where their health is number one.
Most importantly, I am an Indigenous mother of four children, a wife, a community member, and an advocate of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights over ancestral lands, and access to clean air, water, and lands. We are tribal affiliates of the Navajo Nation, descendant of the genocide of the “Indian Removal Act,” known to the Dínéh as “The Long Walk of the Navajo.”
Injustices have persisted on Indigenous lands with the mining of toxic minerals like coal, oil & gas, and uranium, along came testing sites, power plants, and bomb-making materials. With that comes health impacts ranging from asthma, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, leukemia, mental illness, adverse birth outcomes, respiratory diseases, and premature deaths at alarming rates higher than the general population.
When Indigenous people leave the reservation, we hope to live in a safe environment, but we often get redlined to live near polluted areas like highways, refineries, waste sites, power plants, and oil & gas sites. This injustice is also happening for people of color. Children who attend majority minority schools, like Bella Romero and Commerce City schools, are exposed to increased rates of air pollution that can impact their health and safety. Community members in this area suffer higher rates of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including increased reports of COVID-19.
It is beyond time for Suncor to clean up its act and for Colorado to protect communities living near this highly polluting facility with lower pollution limits, enforced oversight of regulations, required transparency with reporting, and continuous air monitoring in the communities.
Please consider denying any renewals until protections have been put in place and push for regulatory change to address greenhouse gas emissions reductions and health burdens inflicted on the communities.