01_09_24_AM_headlines Alexis Kenyon
Rocky Flats Trail Lawsuit
Colorado environmental groups have filed a lawsuit in federal district court to stop the construction of a hiking and biking trail through the former Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant site near Boulder.
Plaintiffs argue that anyone using the trail would be exposed to dangerously high levels of radiation, which still contaminate the site decades after it ceased nuclear weapons production.
Known as the Greenway, the proposed trail would pass through parts of the sprawling Rocky Flats site that were never fully cleaned up. An attorney with the group that filed the lawsuit said in a press release that the goal is to halt the Greenway until other trail routes are fairly considered.
The lawsuit, filed yesterday in district court in Washington, D.C., names the Federal Highway Administration and the Fish and Wildlife Service as defendants. Plaintiffs include Physicians for Social Responsibility Colorado, the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, and Rocky Flats Downwinders.
The U.S. government manufactured nuclear weapons at Rocky Flats from the early 1950s until the late 1980s. The site is now a National Wildlife Refuge. The plant was raided by the FBI for environmental crimes in 1989.
Colorado Climate Change Study
Climate change is definitively impacting Colorado, according to a new study by Colorado State University (CSU).
One of the authors of “Climate Change in Colorado” reports that the state’s annual average temperature rose 2.3 degrees from 1980 to 2022. This warming trend is expected to continue over the next few decades.
One effect of the warmer annual average is a reduction in the state’s overall snowpack. This decrease negatively impacts the Colorado River Basin, which provides water to seven states and Mexico.
The CSU report also indicates that climate change will lead to more weather extremes in Colorado, such as floods and droughts, and increase the state’s vulnerability to wildfires.
One of the study’s authors expresses hope that the report will raise awareness and emphasizes that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is key to combating climate change.
CU Energy Invests $43 million in Fossil Fuels Despite Protests
A climate advocacy group criticizes the University of Colorado Boulder’s (CU) plan to upgrade its energy plant, arguing it does not sufficiently reduce nitrogen oxide emissions. KGNU’s Steve Miller reports.
The University of Colorado Boulder announced that the Board of Regents approved a project to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by over 50%. This reduction will bring the plant into compliance with new Colorado air permit requirements, involving a $43 million upgrade to heating and power equipment this month. The upgrades include installing a combustion turbine and nitrogen oxide reduction equipment, and shutting down one of the plant’s boilers.
According to Colorado Newsline, the group Fossil Free CU claims that the university should do more to divest from fossil fuels. They argue CU was not transparent about their decision to invest $43 million in plant upgrades, which they say will “lock-in fossil fuel emissions and air pollution on campus for decades.”
Denver Sweeps Vote
The Denver City Council gave preliminary approval to a bill banning sweeps of homeless encampments during cold weather.
Councilmembers passed the measure in a nine-to-four vote yesterday. It bans sweeps within 24 hours of the temperature dropping below 32 degrees. The measure goes to a final vote next week.
One of its co-sponsors told Denverite that it is “only humane and logical” not to “shove people around when it’s freezing out.”
Denver Cold Weather Shelters
Meanwhile, Denver’s cold weather shelters will remain open for another week due to expected cold temperatures.
A new cold front is approaching Colorado, bringing freezing temperatures that should last through the weekend.
City officials opened Denver’s cold weather shelters last Friday. Denver7 reports that they decided to keep them open through Jan. 15. The Denver Navigation Campus and New Directions, both former hotels, will open each evening at 7 p.m.
Denver’s Department of Housing Stability will also have shelter access points to help people find the shelter that best suits their needs.
Williams Announces Candidacy
State Republican Party Chair Dave Williams is running for U.S. Representative from Colorado’s 5th Congressional District.
Williams formally announced his candidacy yesterday, aiming to win the seat being vacated by Republican Doug Lamborn, who is not seeking reelection.
Williams, a former three-term state lawmaker from Colorado Springs, describes himself as a “conservative wartime fighter.” He told Colorado Politics that he will remain the state GOP chair leading up to the June 25 Colorado primary.
December Avalanches in Colorado
More than 600 avalanches were reported in Colorado last month, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
There were no fatalities in any of the avalanches. More than half of those 600 avalanches occurred in the first five days of December. While there were no fatalities, ten people were caught in eight different avalanches, and three of them were partly buried.
The Information Center notes this is the first time since the 2018-2019 winter season that no one died in an avalanche before the new year. They also mention that about 2,300 avalanches are reported in Colorado every season, and many more go unreported.