Colorado Edition: Share The Road, Fix Up The Land

Aug 14, 2019

Today on Colorado Edition: 66 motorcyclists and 10 bicyclists have died on Colorado's roads so far this year. We discuss tips for driving, motorcycling and cycling safely. Plus, we learn about the future of abandoned oil and gas wells in the state. At the same time, a long-abandoned plot of land along Highway 36 moves towards development. Finally, a high-security plant destroys the U.S. Army's chemical weapons in a race against the looming threat of climate change. 

News of the day: 

  • TABOR  - A new poll finds most Coloradans would approve a measure to let the state keep excess revenue it would otherwise have to return to taxpayers. The survey was conducted by Republican firm Magellan Strategies. It found 54% would approve Proposition CC, while 30% would vote against it. The measure was referred to the ballot by lawmakers. It would allow the state to keep TABOR refunds and spend the money on education and transportation. The survey of 500 likely voters in the 2020 election had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. 
     
  • Bears - Bears have been making the news this summer for finding their way into some of the state's residential areas. Around Estes Park, Colorado Parks and Wildlife says bears have broken into 35 vehicles and nine homes in late July and early August. Parks and Wildlife recommends that people lock doors and windows and bear-proof their trash. Bears will be on the prowl for food late into the year, when winter weather starts. 
     
  • Hydraulic Fracturing Ban Back In Court - Longmont's defunct ban on hydraulic fracturing may see another day in court. The environmental group Colorado Rising has filed a motion to reinstate it. Longmont voters originally passed the ban in 2012, but it was struck down as unconstitutional. Colorado Rising attorney Joe Salazar says the passage of Senate Bill 181 this year gives local governments the power to impose these types of bans on oil and gas drilling. The motion filed in Boulder County District court is the first of many steps needed to revive the city's short-lived ban. Industry groups involved in the suit are expected to file objections. Once the court reviews Colorado Rising's new motion, it will schedule oral arguments for a future date. 

Sharing The Road

A display of 103 motorcycle helmets at an event held by the Colorado Department of Transportation on Monday.
Credit Colorado Department of Transportation

In these last weeks of summer, the weather has been beautiful, which means more people are hitting the roads on motorcycles, bikes and scooters. 

But it's not always safe for those riding outside of cars. 

Earlier this month we saw the first fatality involving an electric scooter in Denver, when a 26-year-old man from Montana crashed. It was the first e-scooter death in the Mile High City since they were introduced in June 2018. 

And the year has also been a deadly one for motorcyclists. So far, 66 motorcyclists have died on Colorado roads. Last year, that number was 103. On Monday, Gov. Jared Polis proclaimed Aug. 12 "Colorado Motorcyclists Memorial Day."

We discussed safety tips for driving and riding with Sam Cole, communications manager for the Colorado Department of Transportation. 

So far this year, the state has seen 10 bicycle deaths, according to CDOT. That number was 22 for 2018. We also spoke with Mo McCanna, the education program manager for Bicycle Colorado, about how to cycle safely. 

Orphaned Wells

The crew uses a massive drill rig to yank rods and casing from an abandoned orphan well in unincorporated Adams County.
Credit Matt Bloom / KUNC

There are hundreds of abandoned oil and gas wells scattered across Colorado. Some are harmless. Others are so old they're leaking, posing a threat to nearby neighborhoods. That's why, in one of his last actions as governor, John Hickenlooper set a deadline to plug most of the state's so-called "orphaned wells" by 2023.

To better understand why it takes so long to plug these wells, and if the state is going to meet the goal, KUNC's Matt Bloom visited a crew at work in Adam County.

Philips 66 Property May Soon Be Developed

An aerial photo of the Phillips 66 Property in Louisville.
Credit BizWest

It's not every day that people look forward to development. But in Louisville, Colorado, residents are on pins and needles waiting for an announcement about the future of a long-abandoned 432-acre site off of Highway 36. Lucas High, a reporter for BizWest, has been following the history of the land and joins us to explain what's in store for the future. 

Pueblo Chemical Weapons

Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant workers train in protective suits.
Credit Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant

An Army depot in Pueblo has long been home to a toxic legacy: hundreds of thousands of chemical weapons capable of killing, if not debilitating troops by blistering their skin or blinding them. The weapons have been stockpiled at the depot for generations and under international treaty they all must be destroyed. Health and environmental concerns have long delayed the effort, but now, as KUNC's Michael de Yoanna reports, shells filled with mustard gas are finally disappearing.

Listen to Tuesday's episode of Colorado Edition to hear the first part of Michael's trip to the Army Pueblo Chemical Depot. 

Colorad Edition is made possible with supports from our KUNC members. Thank you! 

Our theme music was composed by Colorado musicians Briana Harris and Johnny Burroughs. Other music this week by Blue Dot Sessions

  • "Pat Dog" by Landsman Duets

Colorado Edition is hosted by Erin O'Toole (@EOtoole1) and Henry Zimmerman (@HWZimmerman), and produced by Lily Tyson. The web was edited by digital editor Jackie Hai. News director Catherine Welch, managing editor Brian Larson, and reporter Matt Bloom contributed to this episode. 

KUNC's Colorado Edition is a daily news magazine taking an in-depth look at the issues and culture of Northern Colorado. It's available on our website, as well as on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can hear the show on KUNC's air, beginning Sept. 2, Monday through Thursday at 6:30 p.m.