Headlines – July 28, 2023

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    Headlines – July 28, 2023 Por Jaijongkit

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Lowline Wildfire Reaches Over 700 Acres

Gunnison County is holding its mandatory evacuation order for Mill Creek residents near the Lowline Wildfire Thursday.

Local and federal ground crews and helicopters are battling the forest blaze between Gunnison and Crested Butte.

The fire, which was sparked by lightning, reached over 700 acres as of Thursday evening, with zero containment.

Aurora Petition Puts Strong Mayor Amendment on Ballot

A petition to empower the mayor and restructure Aurora’s government has garnered enough valid signatures to proceed to the next stage of appearing before voters in the fall. 

The petition collected 12,198 valid signatures, surpassing the required threshold of 12,017. The proposed charter amendment aims to eliminate the city manager’s position and merge their authority with the mayor, who would also gain veto power over City Council legislation. The amendment would also introduce an at-large council member and reduce term limits for mayors and council members.

Advocates for the amendment argue that it would create a more efficient government, while a bipartisan group of lawmakers opposes it, viewing it as a power grab by Mayor Mike Coffman. 

Opponents accuse canvassers of misleading the public when gathering signatures. The sponsors of the proposal have remained silent, while Coffman has expressed support for the amendment, presenting it as a term-limit item.

Voters who believe their signatures were solicited improperly have until Aug. 14 to submit written protests. The final determination will depend on the outcome of protests and potential litigation.

Attorneys General Blast 3M’s Water Damage Settlement

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser joined 22 other state attorneys general Thursday to denounce a proposed settlement between a chemical manufacturing company and hundreds of water providers. 

The lawsuit alleged that 3M, a chemical manufacturing company, contaminated drinking water across the country with PFAS–or forever chemicals. 

The suit sought compensation for water quality damages and health injuries caused by PFAS. PFAS have been found worldwide in the environment, as well as in the blood of people and animals.

Last year, Weiser sued 15 manufacturers of a firefighting foam that contains toxic PFAS chemicals. Companies included DowDuPont and Corteva, but not 3M.

3M offered to pay up to $12.5 billion to water providers. 

But Weiser—and other state attorneys general, say the settlement comes with a catch: In exchange for the money, 3M wants  every water provider in the U.S to take legal responsibility for the contaminated waste.

The company’s chairman announced the settlement in June, calling it an “important step forward for 3M,” and said the company plans to stop making all PFAs by the end of 2025. 

RTD Cuts Single, Monthly Train and Bus Fares For Metro Denver 

In what has been called an historic shift, Denver Metro transportation officials voted unanimously this week to cut train and bus fares in 2024.

Board members of the Regional Transportation District (RTD), agreed to reduce one-time fares to $2.75, a compromise between the current local fare of $3 and the regional fare of $5.25.

Trips to and from Denver International Airport are down 50 cents to $10.

Monthly bus passes will drop to $88, local service is now $114 monthly, while regional or airport service is $200 per month.

Users of Access-a-Ride will benefit as well, with monthly passes dropping to $27 per month for eligible riders.

And starting Sept. 1, riders 19 and younger can ride free during a one-year pilot program.

RTD officials say the changes address customer concerns about high costs, complicated rate tiers and greater access to transportation.

EV Charging Rebate For Businesses 

Businesses that install a public electric vehicle charging station can apply for a rebate. 

Efficiency Works, an energy efficiency collaboration across Northern Colorado, is offering local businesses a $5,000 rebate for installing a public EV charging station. 

Businesses are eligible if they receive service from Longmont Power and Communications, Estes Park Power and Communications, Fort Collins Utilities, or Loveland Water and Power.

Popular 14ers Reopening Tomorrow, With Waivers

Trails accessible to popular 14ers via private land are reopening today, but only to those willing to scan a QR code and sign a liability waiver on their smartphones. The trails lead to Mount Lincoln and Mount Democrat.

Landowner John Reiber, who owns mining claims on both 14ers, collaborated with outdoor recreation advocates, the U.S. Forest Service and the Town of Alma to address concerns that stemmed from a key court case a few years ago.

Private landowners with free trail access realized their legal vulnerability when, in 2019, a biker injured on an unofficial trail sued the land’s owner, the Colorado Air Force Academy. 

After the biker won in court and was awarded $7.5 million, Reiber was one of several landowners who closed access to popular 14ers. 

A coalition, which worked with Reiber towards the liability waiver solution, is urging that the Colorado Recreational Use Statute be amended to better protect landowners and allow recreationists to enjoy more of Colorado.

The Coalition and Reiber both say the liability waiver is a temporary solution to a larger problem.

 

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    Headlines – July 28, 2023 Por Jaijongkit

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