Lawsuit challenges Colorado’s endorsement of increased air pollution from Commerce City tanker truck installation

DENVER – Conservation and community groups today sued Colorado’s Air Pollution Control Division for issuing a permit allowing Polar Service Center, a fuel truck repair shop, to emit increased air pollution causing asthma and cancer.

The lawsuit was filed by North Range Concerned Citizens and the Center for Biological Diversity in Colorado State District Court in Adams County. The county is part of the Denver/North Front Range metropolitan area, which for more than 15 years has violated the national smog standard established to protect the health of people and wildlife.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently downgraded this area to the severe smog problem category. And the truck repair shop is located in an already heavily polluted part of Commerce City.

“It is outrageous that the state’s Air Pollution Control Division is approving a permit to emit more air pollution into this part of Commerce City, which already bears a disproportionate burden of pollution from various other sources,” said Kristi Douglas, president of North Concerned Citizens. “While there may be a lot of talk coming from agencies these days about environmental justice, the first step in that direction is to stop issuing permits for more pollution in neighborhoods that are already hammered by the pollution.”

The law prohibits the state’s Air Pollution Control Division from issuing permits for further air pollution unless it has evidence that the new source of pollution will not cause or contribute to harmful effects. violations of science-based pollution thresholds set by the EPA.

“Scientific methods and tools for determining whether a new source of pollution will cause a violation of EPA standards are well established and readily available,” said Robert Ukeiley, senior counsel at the Center. “We’re going to court to force the state to follow the science and obey the law, especially in cases like this where a community is already burdened with more than its fair share of pollution.”

Those most at risk of getting sick from smog are children, the elderly, people who exercise or work outdoors, and people with asthma and other lung problems. Scientific studies have also shown that air pollution increases the chances of people catching and dying from COVID-19.