Bill to Require Monitoring of Toxic Air Pollution Advances

DENVER, CO– The House today advanced legislation on a preliminary vote to require real-time fenceline monitoring of air toxics at certain industrial facilities and community based monitoring in areas where people are most at risk. 

“Communities have a right to know when facilities release toxic pollution like hydrogen cyanide and benzene into the air,” said Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, D-Adams County. “With this bill, we’re requiring facilities to conduct fenceline monitoring, publicly publish the data in real time, and notify communities in the most prevalent two languages when there’s a violation. Mobile van community-based monitoring will ensure that we get the full picture of how, where, and when air toxins are impacting communities near our dirtiest facilities, especially Black and Brown communities that have been disproportionately impacted by toxic pollution.” 

“Time after time we’ve seen facilities try to conceal or alter the air quality and toxic emissions data they release–we’re going to ensure we have reliable data and hold facilities accountable,” said Energy and Environment Committee Chair Rep. Alex Valdez, D-Denver. “Air toxins cause cancer, reproductive health issues, ecological disasters, and when facilities violate the limits, they’ll be required to notify communities and take corrective action quickly. The bill establishes robust air monitoring programs so that we know when facilities release toxic pollution.”

HB21-1189 would require facilities to collect and publicly report real time air monitoring data and fund community-based monitoring programs to better understand the cumulative health impacts of air toxics emissions from multiple sources. Air toxics are pollutants that cause or may cause cancer or other serious health effects, such as adverse reproductive effects or birth defects, or adverse environmental and economical effects. Specifically, the bill expands the type of facilities covered by air toxin pollution limits. 

Importantly, the bill requires real-time “fenceline” monitoring and public reporting on the results of the monitoring. Facilities would be required to notify the public when emissions breach thresholds for toxic levels or exposure. The bill also requires the Department of Public Health and Environment to conduct community-based monitoring (mobile van monitors) of toxic air pollution in areas near covered facilities. Covered facilities must take corrective action within 15 days of a violation.

The bill requires covered facilities to conduct outreach to communities near the facilities, in particular disproportionately impacted communities. Outreach must be conducted in the two most prevalent languages spoken in the communities. Disproportionately impacted communities often include low-income neighborhoods and residents who identify as Black, Indigenous, Latino, and people of color. 

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