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Afternoon Headlines May 24, 2017

Posted: May 24, 2017 at 2:21 pm by , in Headlines

Greeley homeowners are heartened by an announcement from Extraction Oil and Gas Monday that the company will install a transport pipeline at its Triple Creek development site, eliminating the need for almost two dozen large storage tanks and thousands of truck trips to and from the area.

Extraction said in a statement that after two years, it has finally completed all “comprehensive engineering, commercial and land use steps” necessary to confirm the use of the pipeline.

Without the pipeline, which will carry produced oil to a regional terminal located northeast of Greeley, Extraction estimates that it would take approximately 100,000 truckloads over 25 years to transport all of the extracted hydrocarbons.

But despite the announcement, a group of Triple Creek residents will nonetheless move forward with a lawsuit against the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), the state’s oil and gas regulatory agency, which they charge failed to use its authority to require Extraction to build the pipeline.

A spokesman for the COGCC has previously told The Colorado Independent that the agency will not comment on the suit.
The Triple Creek development currently includes 22 wells and 22 oil tanks less than 1,000 feet from at least 14 homes.

2. Former U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar identified himself as a lawyer for oil and gas giant Anadarko immediately following a fatal home explosion in Firestone last month, International Business Times and MapLight are reporting.

Investigators say an improperly abandoned flowline attached to an Anadarko well caused the blast.

Salazar, also a former Democratic U.S. Senator who weighed a 2018 bid for governor but decided against it, spoke with Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper’s top attorney, Jackie Melmed, about the explosion, according to an email IBT and MapLight obtained.

In their story, International Business Times reporters David Sirota and Lydia O’Neal, and Andrew Perez of Maplight, report that Salazar, who currently works as a partner with international law firm Wilmer Hale, has “previously said he would honor federal ethics laws by walling himself off from matters in which he was involved at the agency.” He has been working for Anadarko in Colorado, they report, though he has not registered to lobby for the company there.

Luis Toro, director of watchdog group Colorado Ethics Watch, says Salazar’s decision to provide legal counsel does not count as lobbying. He says, “He promised not to lobby as a federal official, but he’s not lobbying the federal government, and he’s not lobbying after Colorado state law.” Says Toro, “Whether you approve of him working for Anadarko after being U.S. Secretary of the Interior is a matter of personal opinion, but it’s not an ethics issue.”

The authors also note that as interior secretary, Salazar led a department that oversaw Anadarko, and occasionally helped the company. In 2010, the Department of the Interior waived environmental rules for an Anadarko offshore drilling project after the Deepwater Horizon spill, even though Anadarko partially owned the well involved in that disaster. Anadarko, they report, has more than once quoted Salazar’s support for fossil fuel development in its own promotional materials.

Colorado Representative Joe Salazar, who is running for the Democratic nomination for attorney general, says he is sure the former interior secretary hasn’t done anything improper, but that it doesn’t look good. He said, “I think it’s utterly tone deaf concerning how Coloradans feel about the oil and gas industry.”

3. The Denver District Attorney’s office has filed charges against a man who reportedly removed another person’s testicles last week in a botched gender confirmation surgery.

The victim, a transgender woman whose name has not been released, says she asked 57-year-old airline captain James Pennington to perform the surgery in her home last Wednesday, May 17.

Pennington has been charged with second-degree reckless assault, a class 4 felony, and the unauthorized practice of medicine, a class 2 misdemeanor.

The procedure reportedly took 90 minutes and was performed using an Army surgical medical kit. When the victim began to lose blood several hours after the surgery, her wife called 911, and paramedics ultimately called police.

In a letter sent to 9News, the woman said that she was indeed a victim — but not of Pennington.

She wrote, “I am a victim of a society and healthcare system that focuses on trying to demonize transgender people and prevent us from getting the medical transition we need instead of trying to do what is best for us. She said that arranging the back-alley surgery was out of “pure desperation” due to a system that failed her, and implored the public not to paint Pennington “as a monster.”

Colorado has no law requiring insurance providers to cover gender confirmation surgery.

Ken Lane, communications director for Denver District Attorney Beth McCann, says the office is sympathetic to the victim’s viewpoint and concerns. But he says that under the law, the DA has the sole responsibility for determining whether charges are filed — and the facts of the incident match the elements of a criminal offense.

Noting that he didn’t mean to sound crude, Lane added, “You just can’t have people wandering around cutting off others’ testicles without a license.”

In Colorado, a class 4 felony carries between two to six years’ imprisonment and fines of up to $500,000. The DA set bond at $50,000, and Mr. Pennington is now out on bail.

4. After a critical report documented concerns about how African-American educators and students in Denver are treated, Denver Public Schools assembled a task force of more than 100 parents, teachers, community members and district staff to brainstorm ways to respond.

The group, which has been meeting for the past seven months, will reveal its recommendations at a public meeting Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Bruce Randolph School, 3955 Steele Street in Denver.

Attendees will have a chance to review and react to the recommendations before they are presented to the Denver school board, which is scheduled to happen next month.

District statistics show black students are suspended at higher rates than white students and earn lower average scores on state English and math tests.
“We have institutional racism,” school board president Anne Rowe said at an October press conference about the formation of the task force. She said that while DPS is committed to equity, “we have a lot to do.”

The task force was comprised of several layers, including six working groups that each tackled an area of concern. For example, one group was charged with examining the causes of disproportionate student discipline and coming up with recommendations for alternatives to suspension. Another group looked at how to better recruit and retain black educators.

Allen Smith, associate chief of the district’s Culture, Equity and Leadership Team, who led the efforts, noted Monday that the task force has identified “a number of possible next steps.”

“I know the root causes impacting our community are broad, deep and interconnected,” Smith wrote in a statement.

He added that, “We are excited about building trust by sharing the results of this first phase of work and [getting] feedback on how the African-American community’s experiences will be different once we are successful.”

For more on these and other stories go to ColoradoIndependent.com.