Colorado voters overwhelmingly support reducing toxic air pollution and holding corporate polluters accountable for breaking the law. Seventy-three percent of likely voters in Colorado’s November election statewide support a bill to expand emissions monitoring and emergency notification for uncontrolled emissions of hazardous air pollution (HB20-1265) according to a May 2020 poll by Keating Research. More than two-thirds of survey respondents also supported a new program to conduct air quality monitoring, research and analysis, and set fees per ton of pollution emissions (SB20-204), and a bill to increase Colorado’s maximum daily fine for air and water quality violations (HB20-1143). Each of these bills passed in this year’s abbreviated legislative session and has been signed into law by Governor Polis.
But, no polling statistic exists in isolation. A richer history of activism, politics and community power surrounds any legislative victory or promising poll result.
Protégete, an organizing-focused program that advocates for equitable access to a healthy environment, works closely with communities to understand and represent the true implications of policy. Community organizer Issamar Pichardo’s work includes leading projects that contextualize environmental injustices with data visualization. She and Koki Atcheson, Conservation Colorado’s communications and storytelling coordinator, partnered with a team of University of Colorado Denver graduate students to show the bigger story behind pollution in Globeville, Elyria/Swansea — and how community members’ experiences create that story.