Headlines May 4, 2021

Headlines May 4, 2021

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COVID-19 Vaccination Update

As of yesterday, almost two million Coloradans had been fully immunized against COVID-19, with 2.6 million Coloradans already having received their first dose. But new polling continues to show a political divide in the state over who wants to get them. The poll by Keating Research, OnSight Public Affairs and KOM Colorado Poll found that 63% of people surveyed had already received at least one vaccine dose, another 10% who said they planned on getting vaccinated but had not yet, 12% who said they were not sure if they would get vaccinated, and 15% who said they don’t plan to get vaccinated. The poll also found that 80% of Democrats said they had already received one dose, compared to 61% of unaffiliated voters and 46% of Republican respondents.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer for youngsters ages 12 to 15 by next week. That would make shots available for many before the beginning of the next school year. An official with the FDA said Monday that Pfizer has found that its shot – already authorized for those age 16 and older, also provides protection for the younger group.

Renewal of Suncor Refinery Permit Debated at Hearing

Many speakers reminded the AQCC of Suncor’s history of releasing dangerous pollutants which periodically have coated surrounding neighborhoods in ash-like material. Suncor angered residents by offering car wash coupons to the neighborhood affected by the chemical coating. The pollutants also disproportionately impacts low-income households and communities of color primarily in the 80216 zip code, which is frequently reported as the most polluted zip code in the United States.

The Colorado Sun reports that the environmental advocates have pointed out to the state’s air pollution control division that passage of HB 1261 in 2019 forces state officials to take more health factors into account before giving the permits.

A recent study by the Colorado Fiscal Institute found that by closing the Suncor refinery, Adams County would receive over $12.7 million annually due to reduced levels of adverse health impacts.

Phil Doe of ‘Be the Change’ said that Suncor has been operating for over a decade without a valid permit. He added that Cultivando, a Colorado Latinx Non-Profit organization, has received funds from the state to conduct continuous monitoring of pollutants from the plant. Doe feels that no permits should be considered for renewal until after Cultivando’s one year study is completed.

Suncor said that it takes its responsibilities seriously and they have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years to improve Suncor’s pollution record.

After tonight’s meeting, the AQCC will accept written public comments for another week.

24 Local Newpapers Purchased by Colorado Sun and Non-Profit

A Denver-based online news outlet is set to buy 24 community newspapers with the goal of preserving local journalism. The Colorado Sun, created three years ago by journalists who left The Denver Post has partnered with the nonprofit, National Trust for Local News to purchase the family-owned Colorado Community Media, which operates the 24 local newspapers. The arrangement adds to a growing number of newspapers collaborating with nonprofits devoted to protecting journalism in the United States where private equity or hedge funds have increasingly purchased and then consolidated financially struggling legacy newspapers creating news deserts across the country.

Capitol Hill Update

A bill that would prohibit insurance companies from using third-party consumer information to charge higher insurance premiums passed out of a committee at the Denver Capitol on Monday. It’s designed to prevent insurance companies from using information based on race, national or ethnic origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability to set insurance rates. Also yesterday, a bi-partisan bill was passed to remove a provision in state law that prohibits localities from requiring affordable housing opportunities in development projects. Sponsors says it reverses a decades old court ruling known to housing advocates as the Telluride decision and say it will increase local economic development opportunities, provide housing options for Colorado’s workforce, and help mitigate Colorado’s worsening housing crisis.