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Headlines: Friday, March 31

Posted: March 31, 2017 at 2:19 pm by , in Headlines

Gov. John Hickenlooper was quick to assure Coloradans this week that the state will continue working towards a more sustainable energy portfolio despite President Donald Trump’s call to dismantle environmental regulations such as the Clean Power Plan.

“We will keep building a clean energy future that creates Colorado jobs, improves our health and addresses the harmful consequences of a changing climate,” he said in a statement earlier this week. Trump’s directive, he said, “will not deter Colorado’s efforts.”

The governor’s comments were welcomed from environmental organizations and industry alike.

But some critics worry that while Colorado’s action on climate may seem noteworthy when compared to Trump’s inaction, it will fall far short of what will be required to ward off catastrophic climate change.

Data supports Hickenlooper’s claim that Colorado is on track to achieving the target set by the Clean Power Plan: a 30 percent reduction in power plan emissions by 2030.

But power plant emissions make up only about one third of Colorado’s total emissions, and many say the state needs to be more proactive.

Kevin Cross, spokesman for Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate, called the governor’s congratulatory tone during a meetingWednesday “totally inappropriate,” saying that Colorado has moved backwards from strict emissions targets set by former Governor Bill Ritter.

Ritter’s goals called for deeper cuts and included greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors, such as agriculture and transportation, not just power generation.

Amid varying reactions from environmental and industry groups, one sector was particularly pleased with Trump’s order: The coal industry.

Stan Dempsey, president of the Colorado Mining Association, compared the looming Clean Power Plan to a “boot on the throat” of the coal industry.

Thanks to Trump’s order, Dempsey said, “that boot has been lifted.”

 

While Republican Congressman Mike Coffman of Aurora says Russia is one of the biggest threats to our national security, he told constituents this week that  he does not think the Russians changed the outcome of the presidential election.

That’s what he told callers in an hour-long telephone town hall Wednesday night.

“Do I think that Russia’s involvement changed the outcome of the election? No, I don’t,” he said. “I think what they achieved, though, was to, I think, delegitimize our political system, which is their objective. And so I think they’re doing pretty good at that.”

But when it comes to formal investigations into potential ties to Russia and the administration or campaign of President Donald Trump, Coffman said he doesn’t trust members of a hyper-partisan Congress to conduct a capable probe. He would rather the FBI do that.

“When we’re dealing with methods and sources in terms of intelligence, I just think that they are the best equipped to do it,” he said. “They’re certainly the least partisan to do it, they’re the most objective to do it whatever their flaws are. I’ve just got more confidence in them than I do in the Congress right now. So that’s where the investigation ought to be.”

The FBI, Coffman said, should finish its investigative work. “They’re doing a criminal investigation, and then let’s see where it lands,” he said.

Coffman told callers he will be holding an in-person townhall on April 12 at 6 p.m. at the Anschutz campus. The details will go up on his website soon, he said.

 

The state’s 26.8 billion dollar budget for 2017-18 has passed its first major test: approval by the Republican-controlled state Senate.

That approval on Thursday followed a day-long debate about film incentives, affordable housing, struggling rural hospitals, concerns about the changes the Trump White House is likely to make on scientific research and whether to use state money to survey teens about suicide.

Democrats were able to make several changes to the budget, including a $16 million dip into marijuana tax revenues to pay for affordable housing and assistance for the homeless, a proposal from Senator John Kefalas (Key-fall-as), a Fort Collins Democrat. The budget is crafted every year by the six-member Joint Budget Committee, a group of three Democrats and three Republicans.

They were unable to come to agreement on a number of issues, including whether to put three million dollars into tax incentives for filmmakers.

The committee also deadlocked on a seven hundred forty five thousand dollar request for the Healthy Kids Survey, which is conducted every two years by the state Department of Public Health and Environment. Republican Senator Kevin Lundberg of Berthoud, one of the budget committee’s most conservative members, argued against the funding, claiming that questions that asked kids about suicide would prompt them to consider it.

But fellow Republicans joined Democrats to approve the request, stating that while they might not like the questions, they want to do whatever they can to save the lives of Colorado teens. The state has one of the highest rates of juvenile suicide in the nation.