Faith Leaders Write Letter Supporting Air Quality Legislation

March 2024

Dear Honorable Members of the Colorado State Legislature,

Together Colorado is a nonpartisan, multi-racial and multi-faith statewide organization working to place human dignity at the center of public life in Colorado. We are writing to express our support for SB24-166. We also support SB24-165 and HB24-1330.

Whether we live in the mountains, foothills or on the plains, whether we are Black, white or brown, we all need clean air to breathe and an environment free from pollution. Unfortunately, oil and gas corporations within our state have put profit over the health of Coloradans and the longevity of our planet. This has caused significant harm to Black and brown communities, and workers, who are trapped in nets of pollution, making it dangerous for our children to even venture outside on high ozone days.

In recent years, instead of being known for our beautiful views, our vibrant wildlife, and our gorgeous mountains, Colorado has been known for our dirty brown skies and track record of failing to meet the most basic of environmental standards. Our very own Colorado Department of Health and the Environment recognizes the impacts of this pollution and how it harms our people. Short-term exposure to unhealthy levels of ozone pollution can cause symptoms, such as: Coughing; eye, nose, and throat irritation; chest pains; breathing difficulty; and more frequent asthma attacks. Long-term exposure is linked to a variety of poor health outcomes, including lung and cardiovascular disease and premature death.

As moral leaders in our community, committed to a human dignity platform, we call on the legislature to prioritize changes in how we manage ozone in our state. Protecting the lives and well-being of our citizens should be our number one priority. SB24-166, and its partner bills, are working to do just that.

We have an ethical responsibility to hold industry accountable for violating air quality standards. While Suncor may complain about a $12 million dollar fine, they paid back shareholders $1.1 billion in the fourth quarter alone. Companies simply calculate these fines into operating costs and keep polluting. That does nothing to prevent harm to our communities. By supporting SB24-166, you protect the health and wellness of all Coloradans. By supporting this bill, you make a clear directive that clean air matters.

In many of our traditions, the word ruach means breath. The breath of G-d, the wind of G-d. That breath is what energizes our lives and gives us life. That breath is in our lungs and engages our very being. We need clean air to live. It was fundamental at creation and is fundamental to our well-being today.

Representing these traditions, we believe that all of Colorado’s residents, regardless of how they worship, what they look like, or what’s in their wallet, deserve a clean and healthy environment. We must legislate for all Coloradans. As clergy and faith leaders in your communities, we urge you to vote YES on SB24-166.

Thank you for your public service and leadership.

Signed by 60 clergy and faith leaders, listed in order by State Senate District on the following pages.

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