Colorado Representatives Dominique Jackson and Serena Gonzales-Gutiérrez’s bill, HB20-1143, was approved on February 10, by the House Energy and Environment Committee. The bill would move Colorado closer to guaranteeing environmental justice by increasing air and water violation fines to the level of those imposed by the federal government and creating an advisory committee made up of individuals from the communities impacted these violations. The advisory committee would then direct the funds generated by this legislation towards environmental mitigation efforts, which would seek to minimize or avoid the adverse effects of an air or water quality violation. The committee approved the bill by a vote of 7-4.
“For far too long, big, corporate polluters have been infringing on the rights of Coloradans to enjoy clean air and water,” said Rep. Jackson (D-Aurora). “Today we’re making progress towards changing that. A broad coalition of advocates and organizations played a part in making this bill a reality. From the beginning, our objective has been simple: we set out to hold corporate polluters accountable and give communities affected by their pollution a say in how they will be made whole. I’m glad that the committee supported this mission today.”
“It’s just common sense: if a corporation recklessly pollutes your backyard, you should get to decide what will be done to repair the damage,” said Rep. Gonzales-Gutierrez (D-Denver). “Making corporations pay the price when they pollute our Colorado air and water while giving a voice to those who have been wronged is environmental justice, plain and simple. I’m proud to see this bill move forward today.”
HB20-1143 raises daily state fines for air and water violations to the federal level, which is a little over $47,000. Currently, state fines are $15,000 a day for air violations and $10,000 a day for water violations. Additionally, the bill sets up an advisory committee made up of people impacted by the air and water violations, and that committee would be responsible for directing the money collected by the fines towards environmental mitigation projects.
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