Statetap: ‘We don’t even open the windows anymore’

“We don’t even open the windows anymore,” Len Toews of Weld County told the Denver Post‘s Mark Jaffe, ever since fumes from the oil and gas tank battery across the street brought him to the emergency room last year. Despite Colorado’s having some of the strictest emissions regulations in the country, the state is on track for a record-breaking year in oil production – the effects of which, on public and environmental health, is the subject of much scrutiny. “There are a whole lot of hydrocarbons coming out of these wells,” said Pieter Tans, a senior scientist with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder. Studies suggest oil and gas operations are the source of substantially more pollutants than state and federal regulators had originally projected. One done by the University of Colorado shows that levels of benzene, a known carcinogen, over Front Range oil fields are around seven times higher than state estimates.

statetapLocal law enforcement made great use of social media for public communication during disastrous fires and floods last year, but embattled Sheriff Terry Maketa in El Paso County took down the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page this summer when it was inundated with nasty comments about a sex scandal unfolding with him at the center. Spokesman Sgt. Greg White told the Gazette they have a responsibility to shield the public from such vulgarity. The office also used to send out alerts and enquiries about crimes via social media, but now its Facebook page is completely removed and its Twitter account is significantly less active. When Maketa’s term is up in January, incoming Sheriff Bill Elder plans on reinstating the office’s social media presence back to full force.

Last Thursday, Boulder County commissioners authorized the county attorney to file an amicus brief in support of Longmont’s appeal of a decision striking down its voter-approved fracking ban. In 2012, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) sued Longmont over its new anti-fracking city charter amendment. In July, the suit was successful in getting the ban overturned. Similar rulings have come down against fracking bans in Lafayette and Fort Collins. The filing of this brief comes shortly after Boulder County decided to extend its moratorium on oil and gas development through July 2018. In an email response to an inquiry from the Daily Camera about whether COGA would pursue a similar lawsuit against Boulder County in light of its most recent extension of the moratorium, spokesman Doug Flanders said that “we are considering all our options.”

It’s official: Ski Town, U.S.A. is in Colorado, not Utah. Steamboat Springs, Colo., which has had a trademark on the moniker for decades, sued Salt Lake City tourism officials to get them to drop the “U.S.A.” from their $18 million marketing campaign. Just in time for ski season, the two parties settled the suit on Friday. Via the Durango Herald.

For the first time since Colorado voters approved proposition 104 — which requires school board meetings about employment contracts to be open to the public — by 70 percent earlier this month, local districts are heading into contract negotiation sessions. The message from both school board members and teacher union officials: “Transparency? Bring it on.” Via the Pueblo Chieftain.

In the first part of a new series on women in the brewing industry, Whitney Bryen at the Daily Camera talks to Rachael Cardwell of Left Hand Brewing Company in Longmont as she adds oats to the brewery’s signature Nitro Milk Stout. Cardwell is the first female brewer at Left Hand and the only in Boulder County. It’s far more common for women to have front-of-the-house jobs, but increasingly, they’re moving into the production side of things where duties include lugging huge bags of ingredients up stairs over and over. “I go home some nights sore and aching from work, but that’s just part of the job,” Cardwell says, “It’s never been about proving myself as a woman brewer, but about proving myself as a brewer in general.”