News Bites – May 19, 2022
On recommendation from the Larimer County Sheriff, the Board of Larimer County Commissioners at their regular Administrative Matters meeting on May 10 let the current fire restrictions in unincorporated Larimer County that were put in place on April 27 end today, May 11, 2022, at 6 p.m.
The restrictions were originally put in place because of above-normal temperatures, and windy dry conditions.
Larimer County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Operations Director Justin Whitesell felt comfortable lifting the restrictions for now. In the meantime, the Larimer County Sheriff’s Emergency Operations Office will be keeping a close watch on conditions and return with an update.
Larimer County residents and visitors are still urged to exercise caution with all combustible materials. Further restrictions are dependent on conditions in the county.
The Colorado Air Pollution Control Division’s new, state-of-the-art air monitoring equipment discovered elevated benzene emissions at two injection well sites in Weld County. Injection well sites are used to dispose of wastewater from oil and gas operations. Emissions are generated when wastewater is transferred from a truck to a basin, as part of the disposal process. Division experts believe that a lack of proper disposal of the wastewater is causing the elevated levels of emissions.
After discovering higher than expected levels of benzene emissions at the sites, the division and state toxicologist acted to gather more data and assess potential health risks. Once confirmed, the division sent the facility a compliance advisory notifying them of violations to their permits, which began the process to get them into compliance.
After analyzing the data, the state’s toxicologists have determined that while above health guideline values, the levels of benzene are not an immediate high risk for residents in the area. There are a few homes less than a half-mile away from each site, and the highest levels modeled at those homes are more than 100 times lower than the EPA’s guidelines used to define emergency exposures to chemicals in the air. However, because the levels of benzene may be above health guideline values, toxicologists advise that residents closest to the sites who are experiencing symptoms consistent with elevated benzene contact a medical provider. Symptoms of too much benzene include headaches, dizziness, breathing issues, rapid heart rate, irritated skin, and irritated eyes. Residents also can report health concerns related to oil and gas operations at oag-health.colorado.gov or call us at 303-389-1687.
“Our priority is protecting Coloradans and reducing pollution,” said Michael Ogletree, director of the Air Pollution Control Division. “We are grateful to have additional air monitoring tools to go to communities and get additional information about pollution, so that we can tackle it at the source and minimize exposure to it.”
The division has a suite of community air monitoring programs, including the Mobile Oil/gas Optical Sensor of Emissions (MOOSE); Colorado Air Monitoring Mobile Lab (CAMML); new mobile monitoring vans; aerial survey flights to locate and measure emissions from oil and gas operations; and a range of stationary monitors the division can deploy when needed. Through recent legislation, the division has been given significant resources, which will allow the division to more frequently monitor specific sites for air emissions. This includes additional air monitoring technology and resources to hire additional staff
The MOOSE will continue to perform monitoring at the Expedition Water Solutions facilities at one-to-two month intervals to measure benzene and other emission levels. The next deployment is planned for this month.
Governor Jared Polis this week signed SB22-160, legislation that enables eligible mobile homeowners to apply for funds to purchase the land their trailers occupy.
The bill was supported by Senators Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, and Nick Hinrichsen, D-Pueblo, as well as Representatives Andrew Boesenecker, D-Fort Collins, and Mandy Lindsay, D-Aurora, and will invest $35 million into and create the Mobile Home Park Resident Empowerment Loan and Grant Program Fund, which will provide financing to eligible mobile home homeowners so they can purchase the land their homes sit on and convert it into a resident-owned community.
“With this law, we’re making sure mobile homeowners have the tools to organize and combat displacement and exorbitant lot rent increases,” said Lindsay. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done to prioritize mobile homeowners so they can invest in their own communities. Our $35 million investment will go toward creating critical protections for mobile park residents to keep their homes affordable.”
The new law further establishes a mechanism for nonprofits to receive grant funding to provide technical assistance to homeowners and help them build the capacity, resources, and know-how to organize and purchase their mobile home park.
The website to order another batch of free at-home COVID-19 test kits from the federal government is now live, the White House announced Monday.
The first round of tests provided by the federal government were sent out in January. Now, each residential address will be able to receive an additional four tests
To request a second batch of tests, go to COVIDtests.gov and click “Order Free At-Home Tests.” From there, you asked to enter your name and residential address. The kits will be shipped out by the United States Postal Service starting this week.
If you didn’t request a first shipment, you can now place two separate orders totaling eight COVID tests, according to the USPS.
Additionally, the federal government has provided N95 masks free of charge at locations around the country. The nearest locations to obtain free N95 masks to Berthoud are available at the CVS Pharmacy located at 1725 Rocky Mountain Ave. in Loveland and the CVS Pharmacy located at 551 S. Hover St. in Longmont.
According to the National Interagency Fire Center, fire activity continued to increase across the country in April, mostly across the Southwest Area and the plains of the Rocky Mountain Area, but slowly decreased in the Southern Area. Year-to-date acres burned for the US is approximately 70% above the 10-year average, with nearly 70% of the acres burned coming from Southern Area, which is not unusual through April. Most of the West, including Colorado, the Plains, and Texas remain in drought, with areas of drought also along the Gulf Coast and South Florida. Temperatures were above normal across the Southwest into Texas with below normal temperatures across much of the northern US. Below normal precipitation continued in the Southwest into the central and southern Plains. Snowpack continued to rapidly melt in the Southwest, with the below-normal snowpack in the Northwest and Rockies melting off at a slow rate.
Climate outlooks indicate below normal precipitation is likely across much of the Plains west through the central Rockies to the Northwest, with above normal temperatures likely across much of the contiguous US (CONUS) through spring into summer. Critically windy and dry periods are likely to continue through June for the Southwest and central and southern High Plains with an active severe weather pattern to the east over the eastern Plains and Ohio Valley. The North American Monsoon is likely to arrive on time and be robust this summer, but potential early moisture surges during June could result in periods of lightning across the Southwest, Colorado, and the southern Great Basin.
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