Headlines — February 17, 2022

Headlines Feb. 17, 2022


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Douglas County Will Not Release Names Of Teachers Who Called In Sick To Protest

The Douglas County School Board has announced the district will not release the names of teachers who called in sick the day of a rally to support then-Superintendent Corey Wise. The school board emailed teachers earlier this week notifying them that those who took part in the sickout would have their names released by close of business Wednesday in response to a Colorado Open Records Act request.

After a closed session that lasted over an hour last evening, board member David Ray announced the unidentified individual who sought the names withdrew the request. 

According to the Denver Gazette, some teachers have found vitriolic flyers on their car windshields with statements that included, “Get out and leave! All teacher unions are bad!” 

The school board majority fired Wise, a 26-year veteran of the district, the day after the “sickout.”

Kerr-McGee Drilling Plan Near Firestone Put On Hold 

State regulators want Kerr-McGee, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum, to revise their plan to drill 33 oil and gas wells near a residential neighborhood in Firestone to include more safeguards and alternative locations.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission or COGCC voted Wednesday to put off a decision on the proposal by Kerr-McGee until March 10. The proposal is seen as a test of Colorado Senate Bill 181, a 2019 law that revamped state regulations to prioritize public health, safety and the environment when regulating oil and gas.

One of the new rules requires wells to be at least 2,000 feet from homes and schools, but allows exceptions. The exception with Kerr-McGee’s proposal would allow wells to be drilled closer if a company’s plan would provide protections “substantially equivalent” to drilling farther away.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said in a letter to the COGCC that it should deny the application unless Kerr-McGee agrees to 13 steps to minimize the potential health and environmental impacts. The company has agreed to look at adopting more of the department’s recommendations, including using electric drilling rigs and drilling with safer materials.

State Submits Draft Permit For Suncor Refinery To EPA After Court Order

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced Wednesday it has sent an air pollution operating permit for the Suncor refinery to the United States Environmental Protection Agency for review. The state is proposing a renewal of the refinery’s Plant 2 permit in Commerce City. The EPA has 45 days to review the permit. In its news release, the state health department says the draft permit includes more stringent controls and requirements while also highlighting monitoring and performance testing requirements. The refinery has been operating under long-expired permits that were the subject of a recent court order in Adams County.

New Legislation Targeting Toxic Air Contaminants

A coalition of environmental and community groups along with Democrat lawmakers announced support for the pending Public Protections From Toxic Air Contaminants Act. 

Colorado Newsline reports the legislation will seek to set health-based emission standards and enforcement on industrial pollution sources that emit hazardous air pollutants like benzene and hydrogen cyanide. 

According to activists, the federal government’s lack of regulations and enforcement leaves it up to states to address gaps and Colorado’s state-level air toxin rules have fallen behind. The coalition also stressed the gaps in federal regulation have left low-income communities of color — like the neighborhoods near the Suncor refinery in Commerce City — disproportionately exposed to toxic air pollution.

Boulder City Council Supports Most Staff Recommendations On Federal Relief Spending

The Boulder City Council voiced support for a majority of staff proposals on how to spend $4.4 million coming from the American Rescue Plan Act. 

The Daily Camera reports the city committed its initial round of funding last Sept. by focusing on restoration of services and staffing that were cut at the height of the pandemic.

This time around, the city is looking to identify solutions and programs that can address the community’s more complex problems.

Council members asked for more information on a guaranteed income program that would distribute $250,000 of funding to low-income residents. Council members asked how the city could provide flexible, regular cash payments to low-income residents without restrictions. 

The Daily Camera reports council members also discussed $1.5 million project that would offer daytime programming, peer support services, and in-home wellness services for people who are about to be housed or have become housed within Homeless Solutions for Boulder County. 

The Boulder City Council will hash out the funding proposals in a budget adjustment meeting scheduled for March. The federal government will release the next round of funding in July.