Huge win against CEMEX, XCEL is under investigation after power outages and there’s a new study about ants

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    Huge win against CEMEX, XCEL is under investigation after power outages and there’s a new study about ants Alexis Kenyon

Cemex plant in Lyons gets order to terminate operations

Boulder County has ordered the CEMEX cement plant in Lyons to stop operations. Boulder County Community Planning and Permitting Director Dale Case sent a letter to the 14-billion dollar cement manufacturer telling the company that a more than 100 percent increase in traffic to and from the plant violated the plant’s operating permit.

The letter cited a Transportation Department study showing that traffic around the CEMEX plant in Lyons has skyrocketed in the past year. Case said in a letter to the company that the increased traffic creates a hazard and is an “expanded use” of the plant, which operates in an agricultural zone.

The increase in traffic comes after Boulder denied the 14-billion dollar, Mexican owned cement manufacturer, permits to mine at their Dowe Flats Quarry site in Lyons last year. Many hoped the move would encourage Cemex to move the cement processing elsewhere.

Instead, CEMEX decided to truck in thousands of pounds of raw materials. CEMEX’s cement operations opened in 1964 and is the single largest contributor to ozone pollution in Boulder County and one of the largest polluters in the state. Community members who have fought for years to evict CEMEX from Lyons say this ruling is a huge win. The company has thirty days to respond to the letter to terminate. During that time, they could provide evidence to dispute that operations have expanded, reduce operations, or file an appeal with the Boulder County Commissioners. In the meantime, the CEMEX plant in Lyons can continue to operate.

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Public Utilities Commission opens Xcel probe

State regulators have formally launched an investigation into Xcel Energy’s decision to cut off electricity to tens of thousands of its customers in Boulder County this past weekend.

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission announced the investigation yesterday, one day after Governor Jared Polis requested the probe. The three-member panel voted unanimously to open the investigation, according to Denver 7.

Power was cut off to 55,000 Xcel customers as a precautionary measure last Saturday, as winds exceeding 100 miles an hour whipped the Front Range.Most of those power cutoffs were in Boulder County.

Besides the precautionary outages, another 100,000 Xcel customers lost power because of downed power lines. Xcel says they cut off power as a precaution to avoid wildfire. Xcel faces hundreds of lawsuits for its alleged role in the Marshall Mesa Fire. Many say their dislodged power line was in part to blame for the fire, which burned 1000 structures and was the largest fire in state history. Xcel is facing similar lawsuits in states across the US.

Colorado’s Public Utilities Commission wants detailed information from Xcel about their response to last weekend’s wind storm, including their planning and communications. That includes getting input from those impacted by the power shutoff.

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Denver will spend close to $90 million to support new migrants

The City of Denver has announced it will spend $89.9 million on services for newly arrived migrants in 2024. The financing will come from citywide budget cuts affecting all city agencies except rec centers and DMV offices.

Both agencies will maintain regular operations and summer programs.

Public safety departments will see reductions. According to 9News, the Denver Fire Department and Police Department will trim their budgets by not filling vacant positions.

Additionally, the city plans to launch the Denver Asylum Seeker Program, which provides housing and workforce training to about 1,000 people in the shelter system seeking asylum. These reductions require approval from the City Council. They’ll be presented to the council’s finance committee on April 16.

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BoCo suing Clean Energy LLC for not clearing an encampment in Longmont 

Boulder County officials are suing the owners of Clean Energy LLC in Longmont, claiming they have ignored requests to dismantle a homeless encampment. The lawsuit, filed by Boulder County Commissioners, says that by allowing the encampment, the owners of the site are in violation of county land-use and zoning codes. According to the Daily Camera, the complaint says that the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office issued warnings and swept the encampment in 2022. But homeless people have still been living there.

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Colorado wildlife will pay to improve bear-human relationships

Colorado wildlife officials have launched a $1 million grant program to help Colorado communities tackle human-bear conflicts.

As bear populations become more active after hibernation, Colorado Parks and Wildlife aims to reduce conflicts through its Human-Bear Conflict Reduction Community Grant Program.

Human-bear conflicts, primarily driven by trash encounters, according to CPW data, are the focus of this initiative, which offers funding for innovative bear-proofing projects across the state.

With some thirty-five hundred human-bear conflicts reported in 2023, the program encourages local governments, NGOs, businesses, and individuals to apply for grants to foster community engagement and provide practical solutions to reduce these incidents.

Grant winners will be announced in July, marking a significant step toward enhancing Colorado’s wildlife management and community safety.
Applications are open to apply for the grants until May 24.

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Colorado Ants CU Study

A new study by a CU doctoral student has found that climate change is forcing certain ant species to move out of their original habitats in Gregory Canyon near Boulder.

According to a CU press release, Anna Paraskevopoulos and her research team are publishing a study in the journal Ecology.

The new study compares ant life to a similar CU study on Gregory Canyon ants, done sixty years ago. It notes that because ants are sensitive to changes in temperature, they’re an excellent marker to study the effects of climate change on ecosystems.

Because Gregory Canyon is mainly unchanged from six decades ago, Paraskevopoulos says it was an opportunity to study the isolated impacts of climate change. The finding shows that changes in ant biodiversity could be happening worldwide in both urban and wild spaces because of climate change.

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Alexis Kenyon

Alexis Kenyon is an experienced radio reporter with more than 15 years of experience creating compelling, sound-rich radio stories for news outlets across the country. Kenyon has master's degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism in radio broadcast and photojournalism. She has worked in KGNU's news department since 2021 as a reporter, editor, and daily news producer. In all her work, she strives to produce thought-provoking, trustworthy journalism that makes other people's stories feel personal. In addition to audio production, Kenyon runs KGNU's news internship program and oversees the department's digital engagement.
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