Afternoon headlines, March 15, 2017

With Boulder County’s five-year fracking ban set to expire in May, the County Commissioners are now considering a long list of new regulations intended to keep the oil and gas industry on a tight leash.

But at a rally and during a commissioner’s hearing yesterday, Front Range residents made it clear that nothing short of a total fracking ban will be enough.

“I don’t want to be poisoned just a little,” said resident Stuart Paul, arguing that the only “safe” way to frack is to not frack at all.

Boulder has a short-term moratorium on drilling activities in place, but that is set to expire on May 1st. County commissioners hope to have the updated regulations in effect by then in order to smoothly transition from an outright ban to a tight set of environmental and public safety protections.

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has filed a lawsuit against Boulder county over its temporary ban, which commissioners have repeatedly have extended since 2012.

Assistant Attorney General Jake Matter reminded the audience that state law prohibits fracking bans. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association wrote to express concerns about the proposed regulations.
Meanwhile, the majority of the audience seemed to have no patience for any oil and gas development within county limits. Many residents ended their speaking time with the same imploring question: “Will you protect us, or will you poison us?”

The commissioners will meet again on Thursday, March 23 to vote on the regulations. There will be no public comment period at that time.

Hundreds of environmentalists, scientists and concerned citizens rallied in downtown Fort Collins today to demand the protection of the EPA, which could be facing budget cuts of up to 25 percent under the administration of President Donald Trump. Speaking in the town square, local elected officials and representatives from groups like Food and Water Watch and the Sierra Club outlined what the proposed cuts could mean for the economy and environment of Colorado.

A CSU graduate student whose research centers around African elephants described her fear, and that of her professors, that vital funding could be cut.

One former EPA employee explained that agency funding made possible Superfund cleanup efforts, including that of Rocky Flats and the Rocky Mountain Arsenal.

The EPA sets and approves state standards for clean air and water, and undertakes enforcement efforts when states don’t want to. Environmental programs such as the Waters of the US Rule protect Colorado streams, even those which don’t flow year round — a major percentage of Colorado’s waterways.

The event’s organizers also circulated a petition to Congress to resist cuts to the EPA in the name of protecting health, the environment and the climate.

Four days after state Democrats held their bi-annual reorganization meeting, an election for the party official responsible for outreach to the county parties is still not decided.

New party chair Morgan Carroll, a former state Senator who lost a congressional bid last November, said the party’s delegates will have to reconvene to decide who holds that second vice chair seat.

That race, and another for first vice chair, is coming down to who holds sway in the Colorado party: those who backed Bernie Sanders for president last year or those who backed Hillary Clinton. The winner of the first vice chair race, David Sabados, was backed by Bernie supporters.

The leading candidate for second vice chair, Patricia Shaver, also had support from Sanders delegates, but she wasn’t the only one.

Delegates said this week they are hoping Carroll can harness the energy of the both wings of the Democratic party, and unite against a common foe – President Donald Trump.

The ski industry was the big winner this week in a bill to put Colorado on Daylight Saving Time year-round.

Ski industry representatives convinced the House Agriculture Committee to kill the bill that would have asked voters to put the state on one time zone and stick with it.
Their opposition is based on losing that hour of daylight early in the day, which ski reps said they need for inspection of chairlifts and to watch out for early day avalanches.

It’s the third time lawmakers have unsuccessfully tried to put the state on one time zone year round.

The measure’s sponsors, Representative Dan Pabon of Denver and Phil Covarrubias of Brighton, both point to public polling that shows coloradans would prefer to keep the extra hour of daylight in the evening and stay on Daylight Saving Time year round.

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