Headlines September 24, 2021
Front Range Gets New WHO Air Quality Guidelines
The World Health Organization released new air pollution guidelines on Wednesday calling for more stringent reductions of ozone and particulate emissions. The WHO’s new guidelines pose challenges for regulators addressing poor air quality along Colorado’s Front Range. The Denver metro region experienced a spike in both ozone and small particulates this summer.
According to The Colorado Sun, Front Range counties have been failing air pollution limits for years. Hundreds of international scientists helped to develop the new WHO guidelines. Among them is environmental epidemiologist Dr. David Rojas of Colorado State University. Rojas told the Colorado Sun that in the past month, Denver had only four or five days that were below the new WHO threshold for small particulate matter.
Colorado Prepares For First Wave of Afghan Refugees
In recent weeks, an estimated 130,000 Afghans left their country after the Taliban’s rapid takeover of Kabul. Colorado aid agencies estimate between one thousand to two thousand are due to arrive by March with Denver Metro absorbing around 90% of the evacuees and the remaining 10% going to Colorado Springs.
The majority of the refugees will not initially receive refugee status, but rather “humanitarian parole” lasting two years. This emergency status does not offer access to any federally subsidized assistance programs. Congressman Jason Crow whose district includes Aurora is pushing for a bill that will allow the Afghan refugees access to a more permanent immigration status and other benefits not covered under the parolee status.
Third Congressional Redistricting Map May Go To Colorado Supreme Court
The Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission has released a third map for the proposed boundaries of Colorado’s eight congressional districts. The new map is based on the latest feedback from the commission’s 12 appointed members, four of whom are Democrats, four Republicans and four unaffiliated voters.
According to Colorado Newsline, if commission members are unable to approve a new map by a two-thirds vote within the next several days, the latest map will automatically go to the Colorado Supreme Court for review on September 30th. The latest map shifts the geographic boundaries of several existing districts without appearing to change the political balance of power.
Denver’s Police Chief Wants To Restore Numbers On Police Force
Denver’s Police Chief has requested $7.6 million for the police department’s 2022 budget in effort to pay for 144 new recruits that will fill current officer vacancies. Police Chief Paul Pazen made the request to the Denver City Council earlier in the week while blaming last year’s budget shortfall for current staffing shortages.
Pazen told council members that the hiring of new recruits would help restore numbers to previous staffing levels. According to Denverite, the department’s overall proposed budget for 2022 is close to $246 million, a 7.2% increase from its 2021 budget.
Hearing Will Discuss Changes To Electric And Gas Programs For Low-income Households
The Public Utilities Commission has announced that a judge will conduct a remote hearing on the proposed changes to the commission’s rules on electric and gas programs for low-income households.
According to the press release, changes include, “raising the funding ceiling to up to $1.00 per residential customer per month, allowing customers to participate in the assistance program without having to go on average monthly budget billing, and ensuring that customers who have electric heating in addition to natural gas services will be covered by the rules so they will not pay more than six percent of monthly income towards utility bills.”
The public comment hearing will take place on Monday, September 27th, starting at 9 a.m. and will conclude no later than 5 p.m. Members of the public may participate in the hearing by phone or computer. Instructions are found on the PUC’s Public Meetings and Events Calendar webpage.
Monsoons Relieved Drought On The Western Slope But Water Levels Remain Low Across Colorado
Reports presented during yesterday’s monthly meeting of the state’s Water Availability Task Force show summer monsoons relieved some of the two-year drought on the Western slope but higher than average demand for water has stretched some reservoirs to their lowest levels.
The Denver Gazette reports the Yampa basin is experiencing the worst drought it’s had since they started monitoring water levels, more than 20 years ago. Municipal water managers from Denver, Castle Rock, and Highlands Ranch all reported higher water demand than normal and no tapering has yet occurred for September. Increases in demand were attributed to population growth.