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Regional Quality Air Council receiving $600,000 through Supplemental Environmental Program from Suncor Settlement

Published: September 6, 2023

Funding will be used to directly reduce ozone precursors and other air pollutants on Front Range

In response to a recent violation at the Commerce City Suncor facility, the Environmental Protection Agency has fined the oil and gas producer $760,660 for noncompliant fuel produced by Suncor that resulted in excess amounts of hazardous air pollution, such as carcinogenic benzene and volatile organic compounds released into the air and neighboring communities. For details on that violation or fine, please refer to the release from EPA.

Supplemental Environmental Programs (SEPs) are state or federal programs that utilize a portion of fine money from industries to organizations doing work in impacted communities. The Regional Air Quality Council (RAQC) periodically receives SEP funds. This is the 10th time RAQC has conducted a SEP related to a Suncor violation. RAQC is receiving $600,000 of the overall $760,660 fine.

RAQC will be using the funds to electrify small engine equipment in the area through its Mow Down Pollution programs. Funding will be used in both the residential program, which offers residents $75 to $150 vouchers toward the purchase of electric or manual lawn and garden equipment, as well as the RAQC’s local government grant program, which offers up to $50,000 to electrify parks and other lawn and garden equipment. The residential program spending is specifically in communities closer to the Suncor facility and the grant program will support emissions reductions throughout the greater Front Range.

“No program can undo the damage from violations like Suncor’s, but initiatives like the RAQC’s Mow Down Pollution program directly reduce ozone precursors, greenhouse gas emissions, and other air pollutants in impacted areas,” said David Sabados, Communications and Programs Director for the RAQC.

The RAQC also applauds the EPA’s recent objection to Suncor’s plant 2 clean air permit, which directs CDPHE to evaluate whether additional operational requirements are needed.

Unlike some energy companies that are transitioning to cleaner energy products, Suncor’s CEO recently stated they are deemphasizing cleaner options and instead refocusing on oil production. The Suncor corporation, which operates multiple facilities in Canada and the U.S., including the Commerce City facilities, reported $1.88 billion in earnings in Q2. Based on Q2 earnings, the fines would represent less than one hour’s earnings to the corporation.

The RAQC is available to answer questions about SEP implementation and programs, while questions regarding details of the violation should be directed to the EPA or Suncor.

RAQC media contact: David Sabados, RAQC Communications and Programs Director