Headlines — June 17, 2022

June 17, 2022

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    Headlines — June 17, 2022 kiara

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Boulder Fire Crews Respond To Small Wildland Fire

Boulder fire crews responded to a small half acre wildland fire during the overnight hours. 

According to tweets by Boulder Fire Rescue, the fire occurred on the paragliding hill west of Wonderland Lake in North Boulder. 

The agency reported completed containment of the fire within an hour of response and will have crews remain at the scene to work on hot spots.

US Forest Service Officials And Boulder County Sheriff Enact Stage One Fire Restrictions

The United States Forest Ranger Districts of Clear Creek, Boulder, and Canyon Lakes of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, enacted Stage one fire restrictions Thursday.

The Forest Service restrictions follow a Wednesday announcement by Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle, who has also enacted Stage one fire restrictions for unincorporated areas of western Boulder County. The restrictions are due to dry and hot weather and increased fire danger. The restrictions include no fire outside metal or concrete fire pits, smoking except indoors or within cleared areas, chainsaw, welding, and torch use.

The Forest Service also reminds visitors that the agency prohibits fireworks on National Forest land. Boulder County’s restrictions also prohibit fireworks sales and recreational firearm shooting. Officials are asking the public to do their part to reduce human-caused wildfires as the forest regions faces another possibly challenging summer. 

Suncor Energy Installs New Automated Shutdown Systems At Commerce City Refinery

Suncor Energy Vice President Donald Austin told the Denver Post Thursday the company has installed new automatic shutoff systems at its Commerce City refinery. Suncor says they are trying to avoid a system malfunction that led to toxic air contamination and a clay-sand mixture spewing into surrounding neighborhoods in 2019.

During the 2019 event, workers at Suncor’s Plant Two  poured excess torch oil into a unit that makes gasoline. The reverse flow overheated the system, which then exploded, engulfing the surrounding neighborhoods with excess carbon monoxide and a clay-sand mixture.

Suncor, one of the state’s largest polluters with a record of violating federal emission levels, had another unit malfunction three months later, releasing a burst of hydrogen sulfide and an opaque yellow substance into the air. 

Austin said the company’s new $12 million system would detect build-up and pressure and close valves before a reversal occurs. After a series of malfunctions and excess emissions, Suncor entered into a consent decree agreement with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in 2020.

The consent decree issued multiple recommendations for Suncor to follow, including the installation of an automated shutdown system and measures to improve its relationship with nearby communities. According to the Denver Post, the new shutdown system will not eliminate the company’s emissions allowed under federal permits. Environmentalists aim to address the refinery’s pollution problems during public hearings in July as the company’s two air permits are under review by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Boulder County Planners To Consider Extending Lyons Quarry Mine Permit for 2037 Permanent Closure And Open Space Acquisition 

 Boulder County Planning officials have a big choice to make as the county considers the future of the Cemex quarry in Lyons. In exchange for the county to allow Cemex, a high pollutant cement plant north of Lyons, to continue operating, the company is trying to sweeten the deal. First, the company says it will only operate for 15 more years. 

Second, they say, when they close, the land can fade back into the designated Boulder County open space that surrounds it. Boulder County Parks and Open Space Director, Therese Glowacki signed off on Cemex’s application to renew the mining permit but told the Colorado Sun the community should have a seat at the table. 

“It needs to have a community conversation, without a doubt,” Glowacki said. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Cemex plant emitted about 357,000 tons of carbon in 2020. Some locals say letting the plant run another 15 years could create irreparable damage. Supporters say keeping the plant open will help sustain the region’s growth by providing materials for roads, businesses and schools. Once staff reviews the application, it will go to the county’s planning commission, where public comment will take place.

Boulder County Approves 10 Projects Set To Receive Funding From The American Rescue Plan Act

The Boulder County Commissioners approved 10 projects this week that will receive $36.5 million from the county’s second round of relief funding under the federal American Rescue Plan Act. Among the projects, the county approved funding for a direct cash assistance for low-income families with young children, the creation of a mental health services navigation hub, funding for mobile response teams, and more support for affordable housing projects including one that will help residents buy mobile home parks. 

County working groups who developed the plan used community feedback and data that explored what county residents were most affected by during the pandemic and what type of support they needed. The Daily Camera reports the county is still considering several other projects, which include a regional housing partnership, grants for small businesses, and seed money for the location of an early childhood community village in southeast Longmont.

Arapahoe County Clerk Warns Unaffiliated Voters To Cast Only One Party Ballot 

Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder Joan Lopez is warning unaffiliated voters in her county that they cannot vote in the primary elections of more than one political party and that they should only return one ballot for their vote to count.

Lopez remarked on Twitter Thursday the county’s election office is seeing too many unaffiliated voter envelopes coming back with both Republican and Democratic ballots and by law they cannot be counted. Since 2018, unaffiliated voters in Colorado have been allowed to vote in the state’s primary elections but must choose and return only one of the party ballots. 

Colorado voters have until 7PM, Tuesday, June 28th to cast a ballot in the state’s primary election.

Front Range Communities To Celebrate Juneteenth 

Along with Denver’s Juneteenth Music Festival and parade returning to Five Points this year, many communities along the front range will be celebrating Juneteenth starting today and throughout the weekend.

Erie and Fort Collins will hold celebrations and concerts Saturday and Longmont will have its outdoor celebration Sunday with a lineup that includes Congressman Joe Neguse. We’ll have more on Longmont’s celebration later in the program. 

As a reminder, both the City of Boulder and County offices will be closed Monday in commemoration of the Juneteenth holiday.

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