New report spotlights climate justice blind spots in Colorado

PROMO Climate - Environment Change Words Fire Drought Water Temperature Health Risk - iStock - tumsasedgars
Published Tuesday, December 27, 2022
by Eric Galatas

(Colorado News Connection) Colorado's low-income workers and communities of color along the Front Range said they face daily environmental threats, including poor air and water quality, according to a new report released by 9to5 Colorado and the Colorado Fiscal Institute.

Hannah Recht, senior organizer for 9to5 Colorado, noted sources of air and water pollution including highways, refineries and coal-fired power plants, have been zoned for and installed where low-income and communities of color call home for decades.

"And so we see higher amounts of pollution in those areas," Recht explained. "Both in terms of air pollution and difficulty breathing, but also polluted water."

She pointed to the City of Denver's move to replace old lead water pipes, which includes providing water filters to affected neighborhoods until the work is done, as one example of a known threat being tackled head on.

But Recht pointed out many of the 333 residents surveyed in 85 ZIP codes across the Front Range have been told by officials drinking water is safe, even though their water smells bad, is brown or cloudy, and leaves their skin feeling itchy.

Many respondents said they have experienced respiratory problems and breathing difficulties due to air pollution, from nearby industry and recent wildfires. Addressing climate justice is a big part of President Joe Biden's Inflation Reduction Act, and Recht noted the report's recommendations include centering investments in communities disproportionately impacted.

"We will need to be transitioning away from oil and gas and coal," Recht asserted. "What that provides is actually an opportunity to be creating new types of jobs, good-paying jobs, union jobs, to be able to bring everyone along in this transition."

Recht stressed the main obstacle to addressing decades-long climate injustices, and the root causes of climate change, continues to be the undue influence of industry on policies. She added the technological solutions are known, but what is lacking is the political will to make bold steps to address climate change in ways to benefit almost everyone.

"It may jeopardize the ability of a few large corporations to make billions of dollars," Recht remarked. "But it has the opportunity for more people to be able to live well, to be able to live sustainable, healthy lives." may earn an affiliate commission if you purchase products or services through links in an article. Prices, when displayed, are accurate at the time of publication but may change over time. Commissions do not influence editorial independence.

The Kiowa County Press is an independent newspaper published in Eads, Kiowa County, Colorado, and to the world at