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Your Morning News - January 22nd, 2015

Jan 22, 2015

Garfield County Air Study at Midpoint

An ongoing study measuring air emissions from natural gas operations in Garfield County is about half complete.

Doctor Jeff Collett of Colorado State University delivered an update to the Garfield County Commissioners Tuesday. The County and “industry partners” are funding the $1.8 million study. Field work started in 2013. Researchers are working with companies like WPX and Encana to measure emissions from drilling, fracking and flow-back operations.

So far, Collett says the study has produced 16 successful experiments that are being analyzed. There have been challenges.

“The amount of new wells going in has decreased with the decrease in the price of natural gas. And some constraints in terms of site suitability. A lot of the development of new wells now happens at topographically complex sites. So these have slowed measurements a bit over what we would have opened.”

Collett hopes to produce a total of 24 successful experiments by the end of 2015, when the study is slated to be complete.

Aspen Reviewing Powerhouse Plans

The five finalists to fill a city owned building in Aspen will find out in March whether they’ve been chosen. The City is in its final stretch of its process to find a tenant for the Old Power House.

The finalists for the space include a brewery, a science center, a media “powerhouse,” a performance and event center and a proposal called “The Gathering Place.”

Right now, the groups are answering a series of questions such as how they would use the building, whether it’ll create center of community and if there’s a market for the services offered. Assistant City Manager Barry Crook says City Council prioritized the criteria.

“How would you produce a memory making experience that would have a visitor relating their visit to others in an enthusiastic way? Why is this location necessary to your plan? How would you activate the grounds, integrate it with the existing trail system and the river?”

The previous tenant, the Aspen Art Museum, paid just a dollar a year in rent. City Council hasn’t decided whether a new tenant will be charged the same price. Council is scheduled to choose a new tenant by the end of March.

Rifle Diesel Spill Clean Up Almost Finished

A diesel spill near Rifle may be close to being cleaned up. The accident had prompted concerns about the fuel getting in nearby drinking water.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is overseeing the effort. On Wednesday, a spokesman said the agency is working closely with the drinking water system that may have been affected by the spill. It was originally caused by a diesel truck accident a week and a half ago.

Residents complained last week about diesel in the drinking water at the Cottonwood Mobile Home Park. The agency says there are no signs of contamination but at least some residents are using a backup water supply.

Colorado Paid Leave Bill

In President Obama’s “State of the Union” address he called on states to create paid leave programs for their workers. Such an effort is expected is Colorado.

Under the plan, worker would pay a few dollars a week into a state pool and then be eligible to apply for the money if they need to leave for something like maternity leave or help a sick relative. Adams county Senator Jessie Ulibarri is one of several Democrats working on the legislation.

“So many families are faced with the challenge of saying, do I take this time off and not receive pay and potentially have my mortgage go behind and my bills go behind. And it makes it such a much more stressful situation.” (:11)

The Colorado chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business says more than 90-percent of members oppose a paid leave program. The organization sees the payroll deductions as a burden and that small businesses will struggle if more people take leave.

The paid leave bill is expected to be introduced in Denver in the coming weeks.

Colorado Public Radio contributed to this story.