• July 20th, 2024
  • Saturday, 06:38:24 AM

Fossil Fuels Don’t Support Our Communities, or Yours

Photo: Renee Millard Chacón Renee Millard Chacón


Renee Millard Chacón and Jamie Valdez


Communities across Colorado have been subjected to decades of fossil fuel greenwashing. Meanwhile, disproportionately impacted communities with cumulative impacts of pollution have suffered in silence.


Millions of dollars worth of propaganda in radio, television and newspaper advertisements have attempted for years to portray oil and gas as an economic champion of development benefitting Colorado’s land, water and people; these companies will donate a new scoreboard to a local high school, buy a table at the local charity event, and claim to support local economies. All the while they deliberately ignore their responsibility to the health and safety of our people.


Photo: Mothers Out Front Jamie Valdez

The latest effort, Coloradans for Energy Access, also fails to authentically include meaningful representation of disproportionately impacted communities and any community-based organization actually focused on improving lives in historically marginalized and targeted communities in environmental sacrifice zones.


Instead, they’re employing scare tactics about alleged loss of economic stability of diverse communities. For years, oil and gas companies have participated in an unrelenting campaign to frighten the public into believing that life as we know it would end if oil and gas companies were overly regulated and monitored; companies would simply pull up their rigs and disappear. No cars, no heat, etc. Well, that’s a little extreme, but it is another way they try to pull the wool over our eyes.


We are in a transition away from fossil fuels and that’s a good thing for our health, equity, our climate and, yes, our economy. That transition will not happen overnight, but we are well on our way and now is the time to figure out how to make that transition just, equitable and fair for everyone across the state.


In reality, global energy markets are more directly responsible for current price increases. The companies don’t like to see those worldwide price increases because it means less profit for their executives and shareholders. Fossil fuel prices are going up because of a collective worldwide transition away from these polluting, toxic forms of energy production. Industry talking heads and apologists also claimed renewable energy production would be too costly. But now new wind and solar is cheaper than coal and on par with gas. We are also now seeing industry make the similar claim that switching homes and other buildings to utilize more electricity will again cause prices to skyrocket. Could it be that the people who make money selling gas want to keep us all hooked on gas? Have they forgotten we are all connected in our biosphere including our air, land, and water quality?


The fact is — which industry denies — renewable energy is more affordable, is healthier for future generations and the biosphere, especially those who live in “diesel death zones” and other polluted communities, and helps Colorado’s economy thrive with an awareness of industries’ predatory behaviors.


If industry truly cared about the health and safety of people and the environment, it would not be insisting that gas is safe to be used in our homes. Research continues to find that gas stoves emit dangerous levels of nitrogen dioxide and those indoor emissions are largely unregulated. It seems that there is no reprieve from the pollution — indoors or outdoors and that we all need to transition away from fossil fuels sooner rather than later.


It seems that there is no reprieve from the pollution — indoors or outdoors and that we all need to transition away from fossil fuels sooner rather than later.


We don’t see the transition to clean, renewable energy as economic disruption. We see this as economic opportunity for everyone and a way to restore resources for future generations. We will continue to work toward a just and equitable transition.


If fossil fuel companies want to show us they care about this transition for everyone, they’ll come meet us in our communities. We’ll be the ones doing the work to heal and protect.


Renee Millard Chacón is an Indigenous Cultural Educator at Womxn from the Mountain and co-chair of the Environmental Justice Task Force Equity Analysis Subcommittee. Jamie Valdez is a Pueblo native, a community organizer for Mothers Out Front, and a member of Colorado’s Environmental Justice Action Task Force. This article is republished from Colorado Newsline under a Creative Commons license.


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