Headlines April 13, 2020
Headlines April 13, 2020 KGNU News
The air quality along the Front Range has seen significant declines in levels of major pollutants as thousands of cars are off the road due to the statewide stay-at-home order. However, three gases closely linked to operations of oil and gas facilities have continued to spike.
The Times Call reports that the increase clearly shows the industry’s effect on the Front Range’s air quality.
On March 26th, the air quality specialist hired by Longmont to analyze oil and gas emissions, saw the highest levels of methane he has ever seen.
The expert, Detlev Helmig, said that the spike lasted only about 10 minutes, but it was like someone had opened up a spray can. He said that the level of methane increased to 35 parts per million, while the highest level they have ever seen at Boulder Reservoir was about a tenth of that.
Helmig said that it is difficult to know what caused the spike in methane, and added that the wind was blowing from the north. The closest active fracking site to the monitoring station at Union Reservoir is slightly less than one mile to the north. Helmig said the gas was likely to have come from a well site to the north.
There were also large spikes of benzene and ethane on another day at the end of March suggesting the spike came from an oil and gas operation.
While industry leaders have said they are committed to limit their contributions to Front Range air pollution, Helmig’s data would seem to suggest the opposite, at least for some fracking sites.
On Friday the Denver Public Health Department released data that shows black residents in the city have been impacted by COVID-19 at higher rates than whites or Latinx residents.
It is important to note the small size of sampling numbers, but Denver’s black population has been represented at higher numbers of total infections, hospitalizations and deaths from the coronavirus.
Thirteen percent of those with confirmed infections in Denver have been black, while the city’s black population is only 8 percent.
Infection rates of whites and the Hispanic or Latinx population in Denver are less than their proportionate shares of residents.
Rates of hospitalization and deaths show the same disproportionate effects on blacks.
State Representative Leslie Herod, a Democrat of Northeast Denver – has been calling on the state to release more data detailing the race of people testing positive for COVID-19 and wants the state to provide a response focusing on people of color.
The Denver Post reports that the initial data from Denver reflects much of what has been seen in other cities like Detroit and Milwaukee.
New data released yesterday from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment show that through Saturday the state has more than 7,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 cases. The true number of infections is likely four to 10 times higher than that number. Nearly 300 people have died in the state from the virus.
The union representing 3,000 employees of the JBS meat packing plant in Greeley is urging Governor Jared Polis to close the facility after the second death of a worker related to the coronavirus.
Union leaders believe the plant should be closed for one week and that deep cleaning be conducted.
The Denver Post reports that a spokesman for JBS said the facility was to close for the three-day weekend plus Tuesday to ensure employees can be tested; but, this is not as long as the union is demanding.
Union spokesperson Kim Cordova said she knows of 42 union members as well as 8 non-union employees at JBS who have tested positive. However, they believe that number may be significantly more.
JBS USA operates 65 facilities in the US and has shut down one in Pennsylvania for two weeks.
Representatives of Boulder County and educational leaders will host a virtual town hall this evening to discuss the impact of the coronavirus on higher education.
Led by state representatives Jonathan Singer, democrat of Longmont and Sonya Jaquez Lewis, democrat of Lafayette, the town hall will also include CU Boulder’s Chancellor, Phil Di Stephano, a regent of the CU System among others.
The participants will share resources, updates and answer questions from the community.
The Daily Camera reports the town hall will take place from 6 to 7:30 this evening and will be conducted through a zoom link.
In other news, the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that a federal lawsuit challenging Boulder’s gun ordinance should wait until the state supreme court makes a decision on whether the measure violates Colorado law.
In 2018 the Boulder city council passed a ban on the sale and possession of assault weapons and high capacity magazines. The measure also raised the minimum age for gun possession to 21. Colorado Politics reports that several people and organizations then sued alleging violations of the state and federal constitutions.
A federal trial court said that it would defer its ruling until the Colorado Supreme Court decided whether Boulder’s ordinance violates state law.
The federal appeals court has now agreed with that lower court and will wait for a decision in the state courts.
Headlines April 13, 2020 KGNU News
Speaking earlier today, Governor Jared Polis said that 304 people in Colorado have died from the novel Corona Virus. Two people who have died were employees at the JBS meat packing plant in Greeley. The union representing workers there say more than 50 of the nearly 6,000 employees at the plant have tested positive. JBS announced today that they will close the Greeley facility until April 24 due to the outbreak.
The company has been criticized by workers for not providing protective equipment or enacting social distancing measures to deal with the spread of the virus. Governor Polis said today the company is working with state and local health officials on testing and containment.
Governor Polis said today that members of the National Guard will be deployed to help with testing of workers at JBS.
This evening Denver City Council will consider an emergency measure to enact a rent freeze in the city to help with those impacted economically by the pandemic. Governor Polis thus far has not supported a rent strike and he reinforced today that he encourages other measures to help protect renters.
“I encourage the council members of Denver and other cities to join with the state in making rental assistance more widely available at this time.”
Gov. Polis has issued an executive order directing the state’s department of local affairs to work with property owners and landlords to stop evicting tenants just because they haven’t paid rent.
Going forward the state will report the racial breakdown of those dealing with the health effects of COVID 19. Today’s announcement comes after the Denver Public Health Department released data showing that black residents in the city have been impacted by COVID-19 at higher rates than whites or Latinx residents.
State oil and gas regulators today fined a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum Corp. with an $18.25 million fine for its role a house explosion in Firestone that killed two men three years ago. Federal investigators concluded the explosion was caused by natural gas leaking into the home from an underground pipe that had been severed.
The fine is the largest ever imposed by the state against an energy company.
The Denver Post reports that the fine was levied against Kerr McGee, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum Corp. Kerr McGee was a subsidiary of Anadarko Petroleum, which oversaw the pipeline at the time of the explosion. Anadarko was subsequently purchased by Occidental.
You can find more of our local news coverage online at news.kgnu.org as well as up to date information and resources on the COVID 19 crisis.
Headlines April 13, 2020 KGNU News