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DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado is working to “right past wrongs” in communities disproportionately impacted by environmental harms under a new environmental justice law passed this year.

The Environmental Justice Act, which the Democrat-controlled legislature passed over the summer, focuses on environmental justice in a number of ways, including by involving communities in decisions that could have negative impacts on their health.

Some Colorado communities “bear a disproportionate burden of environmental and health harm,” the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division wrote in a press release. “In order to right past wrongs, we must focus on, listen to and learn from disproportionately impacted community voices.”

The law defines “disproportionately impacted communities” as those in areas where at least 40% of households are low-income, people of color or burdened by housing costs. A state agency could also designate an area as such if it has a history of exclusionary laws, like redlining, or where multiple factors contribute to public health and environmental disparities.

Communities who suffer long-term exposure to fine particle air pollution, like those who live near highways and industrial sites, have been shown to suffer worse health outcomes, according to state research that looked into COVID-19 at the census-level tract.

Air quality community meetings

Part of the act requires the division to reach out to the communities for feedback and involvement and be transparent about how its actions could have adverse effects.

The Air Quality Control Commission has already hosted meetings this fall on lead-based paint, regional haze and oil and gas emissions.

Another meeting on oil and gas emissions is set for Saturday.

The community session will last 90 minutes. It will allow public comment on air quality and air pollution and will also “inform the public of the content of upcoming air decisions (in layperson terms),” according to the AQCC.

They will also provide information on how community members can stay involved on the issue.

Air quality meeting info

There will be an opportunity at the end of the meeting to ask questions or provide comments, or you can submit a question or comment before the meeting using this form.

View the meeting notice in Spanish.