Colorado Public Radio

It’s a Colorado credo that the Western Slope is far different from the Front Range. But is it separate and distinct enough to deserve its own specific oil and gas regulations? 

The question divided a recent meeting of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in Glenwood Springs. The regulators were in town to give presentations and hear public testimony ahead of the major overhaul of state oil and gas rules mandated by the passage of SB 19-181.

Critics of the Trump administration’s decision to move the Bureau of Land Management headquarters to Grand Junction fear the real goal is to weaken the bureau. 

These concerns and suspicions have only been heightened by recent statements and actions from administration leaders. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt appointed William Perry Pendley as acting BLM director. For years, Pendley advocated selling off the public lands of the agency he’s now leading.

For 10 years Hunter Hobbs was a heroin user. That’s what was big in North Carolina where he’s from. Then he moved to Colorado, where methamphetamine was more widespread.

“It was everywhere, and it was very easy to get,” Hobbs said. “I would buy other drugs and the person I was buying them from would provide meth as well, just kind of give it to me.”

It might be a slow wildfire season, but crews are still busy preparing. Colorado’s helicopter unit is taking advantage of the lull to train to be the first state team in the country that can fight fire at night.

A recently confirmed member of the state’s Independent Ethics Commission was investigated in 2016 for workplace harassment, ultimately agreeing to undergo counseling and spend six months away from an office she oversaw to avoid contact with employees who complained about her conduct. 

Conservative activists have taken to cafes, fairgrounds and rodeos across Colorado to gather enough signatures to ask voters a simple question: Should Democratic Gov. Jared Polis be recalled? The attempt has divided the GOP, yet some see a recall as their only option right now.

“I’m just extremely disappointed in Jared Polis,” said Kathy Abrams of Englewood as she walked up to a recall Polis petition table just outside of the Centennial Gun Club.

A decade ago Colorado lawmakers began to withhold money from public schools in order to balance the state budget.

That total shortfall now stands at a whopping $8.1 billion. Each year, a half a billion-dollar IOU is lopped off from district budgets. The loss in funding, coupled with restrictions on where school districts can set their property tax rates, has increased inequities between school districts.

On the floor of Pueblo’s Steelworks Center of the West — now a museum in what was the Colorado Fuel and Iron company steel mill’s medical building — three stripes in different colors run from room to room. They helped the mill’s many non-English speakers navigate their way to the appropriate service.

After years of government stalemate, there is finally some forward movement on cannabis legislation in the U.S. Congress. 

The lack of federal cannabis laws has affected a slew of issues from criminal justice to small businesses. The banking problem, in particular, has made it difficult for legitimate, licensed business owners. For years, big banks have refused to work with cannabis businesses because marijuana is still a Schedule 1 drug on the Controlled Substances Act, on par with heroin and LSD.

Updated: 10 a.m., July 22, 2019.

In August 2015, the Gold King Mine blew out.

When it did, more than 3 million gallons of orange wastewater spilled into the Animas River in southern Colorado.

The accident occurred at an inactive mine where polluted water had been accumulating for years before an Environmental Protection Agency crew accidentally released it during cleanup work.

Conservatives gathered for the 10th annual Western Conservative Summit found an unexpected name on the agenda Friday morning: Democratic Gov. Jared Polis. It was the first time a Democratic elected official has ever agreed to speak at the right-leaning political gathering in Denver.

It’s become a regular summer event on the Front Range: Ink-black clouds sweep through and unleash hail on homes, cars and unsuspecting people. As more people move to the state, all that damage is adding up to an increasingly expensive menace for property owners and insurance companies. 

Update, 10:15 a.m.: This story has been updated to reflect recent reports of wolf sightings in Jackson County and Grand County.

Last year, Eric Washburn shot and killed a mule buck in Northern Colorado. Its thick coat and massive rack of antlers convinced him of the animal’s health, so he had the meat processed and chucked it into his freezer.

A bill that would install a sculpture by a Colorado artist commemorating the women’s suffrage movement in Washington, D.C. had hearings in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. 

The entire Colorado delegation supports the bill. Boulder Democratic Rep. Joe Neguse has led the legislative effort in the House. He’s a new father and told the committee he wants his daughter “and every girl growing up alongside her feel represented, empowered and are ensured of the fundamental role that they play in our society.”

Thursday’s Democratic presidential primary debate in Miami will give two Coloradans a chance to introduce themselves to a wide audience of voters nationwide. But they’re no strangers to each other. 

Gov. John Hickenlooper and Sen. Michael Bennet’s lives have intersected and at times ran on parallel tracks. Now, they each want a moment to stand out. 

When most people look at the forest right now, they see an abundance of green, fed by a wet spring. When Butch Knowlton, director of emergency preparedness for La Plata County and a 40-year wildfire veteran, looks at it he sees risk.

Knowlton knows that even though snow still covers the high peaks at the southern end of the county, “some of our vegetation in our forested areas down there are already starting to dry out,” he said. As everything dries out, the chances of a fire rise.

The Trump administration has temporarily postponed plans to deport “millions” of undocumented immigrants, but that hasn’t calmed fears within Colorado’s immigrant community. 

Colorado Republicans cheered President Trump Tuesday night as he officially kicked off his 2020 reelection campaign with a televised rally in Orlando, Florida.

There were at least nine county Republican watch parties across the state. In deep blue Denver, dozens of the president’s supporters, decked out in American flag hoodies and MAGA hats, packed a sports bar in the tony Washington Park neighborhood.

Published 8:30 a.m. | Updated 11:40 a.m.

Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order Thursday to outline policies he hopes will increase Colorado’s kindergarten vaccination rate while at the same time, as he describes it, “honor the rights of parents.”

Nicole Pember has two healthy daughters but during both pregnancies, she could have died.

Not only did she have preeclampsia twice, but she also had HELLP syndrome and severe postpartum depression

“We just kind of have this expectation also that women just suffer for the good of everyone and it makes it really easy to miss very serious problems,” Pember said. “Things like Preeclampsia, the symptoms are very similar to just kind of like being pregnant and miserable.”

A clear, surging mountain stream is an iconic Colorado image, even as water can be pretty scarce in this typically arid state. It's a pristine reputation that several companies have tried to capitalize on.

Sara DeMeola asked Colorado Wonders if bottled water in Colorado has become big business.

“It’s hard to find much information on where bottled water comes from or how much bottled water companies have bought into the water rights of the West,” she said.

Colorado law enforcement announced in May that they’d seized what amounted to a small forest of marijuana: 80,000 individual plants and two tons of finished cannabis product. 

It was part of a sweeping marijuana bust, just the latest in the state’s crackdown on illegal cannabis. There have been more than 500 felony arrests and almost 100,000 plants seized between 2016 and 2017, according to the latest data from the Rocky Mountain HIDTA Colorado Task Force.

By 2030, Colorado plans to cut the emission of climate-warming pollution by 50 percent. By 2050, it will be 90 percent.

That means more of the state’s energy will have to come from renewable energy, up to 100 percent by 2040, according to a vision laid out by Gov. Jared Polis.

Several years ago, art teacher Jessica Ruby started to notice something concerning at the end of each class she taught.

“I would give them their art and they would walk by my trash can and throw it away on their way out of my room,” said Ruby, who teaches at Pete Mirich Elementary in Weld County School District RE-1. “I thought, ‘What’s happening? What’s making them do this?’”

Published May 28, 4:00 a.m. | Updated May 29, 9:48 a.m.

Standing on Colfax Avenue across from the state Capitol, Vernon Lewis, in a red cap that matches his shirt, describes a near-death event that happened a few months back when a man overdosed near a park bench.

“He was drinking, and I guess he took his medication,” he said. “His medication was Oxy.”

The Colorado Legislature has wrapped up its work for the year and by now most lawmakers are probably almost caught up on all the sleep they lost in the final weeks of the session.

Colorado lawmakers will consider a bill to raise taxes on nicotine and tobacco as the state's teen vaping rate skyrockets.

Last summer, Eagle County, at the rooftop of Colorado’s high country, faced its first major wild land fire. The Lake Christine Fire started a few blocks from the town of Basalt and burned more than 12,000 acres. Jill Ryan, at the time an Eagle County Commissioner, said most folks evacuated or were told to stay inside, because of “really poor air quality, the smoke that just settled in that valley.”

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has signed sweeping new regulations for the booming oil and gas industry. In a lengthy press conference, the governor talked about ending the contentious wars between oil and gas companies and communities.

“I will ask that those in this room and those who are not in this room commit to seeing this bill and this effort be a success for implementation and for the future of Colorado,” he said.

As more states across the country legalize recreational marijuana, there’s at least one place where the rules haven’t changed: the military. Active service members are strictly forbidden to use marijuana, whether it’s recreational or medicinal.

That creates tension in places that both rely on the economic stability nearby military bases bring and also have the opportunity to create a local recreational marijuana marketplace — which can bring in hefty tax dollars.

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