An oil and gas firm’s Colorado refinery is systematically poisoning the air while the company massively expands stock buybacks and dividends.

by Matthew Cunningham-Cook and Andrew Perez, The Lever

An oil refinery is poisoning the air in Colorado due to poor maintenance and inspection, according to a new report from federal environmental regulators. But instead of devoting money to deal with the problems, the refinery’s owner, Suncor Energy, has massively increased payouts to shareholders — at the urging of one of the world’s largest hedge funds.

The case illustrates how Wall Street’s investments in fossil fuels directly threatens the health of local residents and, in particular, vulnerable populations.

A view down a residential street in Trona with a prominent smokestack releasing emissions into the air.

The Canadian oil and gas giant Suncor has made headlines in recent years for a series of chemical releases and air quality violations at its 92-year-old refinery just outside Denver. In its new report, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that the problems are systemic.

“The Suncor petroleum refinery in Commerce City, Colorado, may experience more air quality incidents because of inadequacies in preventative maintenance, testing, and inspection of liquid level control systems and electrical equipment,” the EPA declared last week.

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