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News brief with The Colorado Sun: Polis wants stricter emissions rules and a climbing anchor ban is proposed

A brown cliff dotted with dark green trees
Ashley Jefcoat
Cliffs in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park are popular among outdoor climbers. State officials are talking about banning the permanent anchors climbers attach to wilderness rock walls for fall protection.

Each week, we talk with our colleagues at The Colorado Sun about the stories they’re following.

This time, we discuss Gov. Jared Polis’ call for new oil, gas and air pollution regulations. We also touch on proposals to ban rock climbing anchors in wilderness areas.

Sun Reporter Michael Booth says Gov. Polis has been under pressure from environmental groups and local elected officials to do something about ozone on the Front Range.

Ozone is toxic and can exacerbate heart and respiratory issues. Booth said the Denver metro area has been in "non-attainment" in recent years, meaning it is in violation of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) ozone standards.

Polis is calling on the state’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and the Air Pollution Control Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health to crack down on petroleum development and oil and gas drilling. The goal is to cut nitrogen oxide emissions in the summer ozone season by 30% by 2025. Booth said if the plan works, it should bring Colorado below the Environmental Protection Agency's nitrogen oxide limits.

"There are also a lot of other factors that go into ozone, like wildfires and smoke and industrial pollution from Asia and California," said Booth. "It's not the be-all, end-all solution but it is a significant move."

In other news, proposals to ban rock climbing anchors in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park are causing an uproar among outdoor recreationists.

Expert climbers sometimes use these anchors for protection from falls and to help hoist equipment safely. Some worry, however, about the impact of such practices on natural landscapes. Booth said manufactured structures are generally not allowed in parks and wilderness areas.

“There's a question about whether they will ban them entirely and not only not allow people to put in new bolts for protection, but also take out the ones that exist," Booth said. "Climbers say that would reduce their access to wilderness and that they know how to use it responsibly, they know how to protect the environment, by the way they put the bolts in.”

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park's environmental management plan touts “clean climbing” techniques that involve using temporary anchors instead of permanently-installed ones.

As a reporter and host for KUNC, I follow the local stories of the day while also guiding KUNC listeners through NPR's wider-scope coverage. It's an honor and a privilege to help our audience start their day informed and entertained.
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