Headlines March 23, 2022
U.S. Interior Department Under Pressure For Lack Of Transparency on Climate Action
Climate and conservation groups have sued the U.S. Interior Department after it failed to respond to Freedom of Information Act filed in December. The groups allege that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management within the Interior Department withheld 75 percent of requested documents, and that the remaining documents have yet to have been received.
The timing of this lawsuit is critical as the Department of Interior announced plans to resume federal oil and gas extraction, all while scientists are warning against the long-term effects of climate pollution.
Boulder County Approves Marshall Fire Debris Removal Contract
The Boulder County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a contract for its Marshall Fire debris cleanup program on Tuesday.
The intergovernmental agreement will require reimbursement to Boulder County for costs of private property debris removal that is not covered by the state or Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The agreement involving the Marshall Fire cleanup previously gained approval in Louisville and Superior.
Commissioners also approved a $60 million contract with DRC Emergency Services. The approval will allow the company to complete debris removal work for more than 800 property owners involved in the program. After up to two weeks of preparatory work, the program is expected to last four months.
New COVID-19 Present Throughout Colorado
The BA.2 COVID-19 variant, also known as the “stealth Omicron” is now the dominant COVID-19 variant around the world. Multiple communities in Colorado, including Boulder County, have detected the subvariant.
BA.2 was first detected in Boulder County in early Feb., but now surpasses Omicron cases. On March 10, the Colorado Department of Health announced that 16 out of 39 total testing sites had detected the variant in their wastewater.
According to the World Health Organization, BA.2 now accounts for 75 percent of COVID cases around the world. The United Kingdom Health Security Agency estimates BA.2 is growing 80 percent faster than the original Omicron variant.
In recent months, Colorado officials have lifted mask mandates, calling for a “return to normalcy.” Although cases in Denver have begun to rise again, Denver officials say they are not as concerned about this subvariant. Like the Omicron variant, researches have found that BA.2 causes less severe illness than the Delta variant and a lower number of hospitalizations.
Loveland Welcomes Plan For New Amazon Warehouse
Amazon is building a new 600,000-square-foot fulfillment center in Loveland that could employ more than 1,000 people.
A city news release reported Tuesday that since 2010, Amazon has invested more than $5.5 billion in Colorado and has created over 20,000 jobs. Amazon senior manager for economic development and public policy says the company is “excited about being closer to our customers … and our ability to work with the city of Loveland to continue our investment in the state of Colorado.”
Colorado Lawmakers Consider Bill To Help Same-Sex Couples Adopt Their Biological Children
Colorado House Majority Leader Daneya Esgar is seeking to expand legal protections for same-sex couples looking to adopt their biological children. Esgar introduced HB-1153, created to streamline the adoption process of children born through assisted reproduction, such as in vitro fertilization, in February.
Same-sex parents are still adopting their own children to protect parental protections in all fifty states. Esgar says it’s up to Congress to “address proactive parental affirmation.” With bipartisan support the bill passed the House in Feb. and will move to the Senate for further discussion.
Boulder Library Champions Call Are Calling On Community Members To Garner Support
The Boulder Library Champions are asking community members to send emails to the city council and county commissioners ahead of a public hearing scheduled April 5.
The Champions argue that transitioning from a municipal to a district library model will enable more sustainable funding for the Boulder Public Library system. If successful, property tax would support the Boulder Public Library rather than the current sales tax revenue system.
Colorado Becomes Home To Ukrainian Refugees
Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette hosted a roundtable discussion Tuesday to address an influx of Ukrainian refugees into Colorado. DeGette urged lawmakers to grant temporary protected status and create an expedited immigration process ahead of what she says could be thousands of refugees in coming months.
According to Jennifer Wilson, Executive Director of the Denver chapter of the International Rescue Committee, about 20,000 Ukrainian Americans live in Colorado. As conflict worsens overseas, Wilson says many fleeing will likely seek refuge with relatives in Colorado.