Good things are happening! Grassroots activism is making waves in Colorado, putting a toxic oil refinery under major scrutiny. Plus, construction workers get a big break, scientists inch closer to a clean energy future, renters get organized, and more.

Refinery Rebuffed

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cracked down on Colorado’s only major oil refinery last week, objecting to the company’s permit renewal after a series of chemical releases and air quality violations and requiring the state to enforce changes to decrease toxic pollution.

The Lever has reported on how this Suncor oil refinery, in a low-income Denver-suburb, has repeatedly poisoned residents’ air and ignored health and safety regulations while lining the pockets of its Wall Street shareholders with billions of dollars that could have gone towards maintenance and improvements.

National activist group GreenLatino, alongside lawyers from nonprofit environmental law organization Earthjustice, have been pushing the EPA to reject Suncor’s permits. This EPA decision is a big win, but it’s not the end of the battle. The EPA decision will require the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to evaluate carbon monoxide and opacity limits at the plant, look closely into any previous plant modifications, and potentially revise the plant’s permit — although the plant will continue to operate while investigations are underway.

The ultimate goal is to shut down Suncor for good, but small steps like this could help improve air quality for Denver residents and lead to further action.

Construction Workers Get A 40-Year Raise

The Department of Labor brought back crucial wage protections for construction workers on Tuesday, restoring and modernizing a New Deal-era rule in what could bring the biggest boost to construction worker wages in four decades.