Week in Review

Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The Mexican government has become involved in the situation of around 65 workers who came to the United States legally and say they were denied promised work and adequate payment.Adriana Valdes, spokeswoman for the Mexican Consulate in Denver, said late Friday afternoon, “At this point we have several lawyers working on this and we will have a more clear picture of what’s going on in the next couple of hours.”She said the consulate’s protection department is currently focusing all its attention on the case because there are so many people involved. In a statement, the consulate said it will give economic assistance to any of the Mexicans who have no means of returning to their homes.The men, who turned to Glenwood Springs’ Catholic Charities for help, say they were promised work by the Texas company JNS Construction. JNS sent two buses to take the men back to Mexico Friday morning after the men waited in Glenwood Springs since the end of November.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A two-year study into air quality in Garfield County found no violations of federal air quality standards and that the levels of air pollutants in the area were “generally very low.”But a preliminary health risk assessment provided with the study said that some oil and gas sites in the area appear “to present significantly higher cancer risk than urban and rural” areas. The assessment also said there were potential impacts from benzene, a known carcinogen, across oil and gas development areas of the county.The Garfield County Ambient Air Quality Study, which has cost about $325,000, was commissioned to evaluate air quality in the county because of the burgeoning local oil and gas industry and growth in the area.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A spending bill that the U.S. House of Representatives passed Monday night included language that would prevent the Bureau of Land Management from issuing commercial oil shale leasing regulations next fiscal year.But the bill did not contain any language for a one-year moratorium on drilling on BLM lands on the Roan Plateau, something U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar had tried unsuccessfully to include in an energy bill that passed last week.Language in the spending bill blocks the BLM from offering commercial oil shale leases during the 2008 fiscal year.”State and community involvement is essential, as commercial oil shale development would have significant impacts on the land, air and the quality and quantity of our very limited supplies of water on the Western Slope,” a statement from Salazar’s office said.

Opponents of oil and gas drilling on the Roan Plateau are pointing to figures released earlier this month from a federal agency to criticize claims that Colorado can earn $1 billion in leasing payments if drilling goes forward on federal lands in the area.Figures from the Minerals Management Service, part of the U.S. Department of Interior, show Colorado reaped $10.7 million so far this year in bonus payments – money that winning bidders pay to buy a lease on federal land for oil, gas and coal development. That’s compared to $15.5 million for all of last year. The amount the service collected for all onshore and offshore leasing this year was $893 million.Critics of oil and gas drilling on the Roan Plateau seized on the numbers, saying figures about potential leasing revenue on Bureau of Land Management land on the Roan Plateau are dramatically overstated. In several statements, Golden-based Americans for American Energy (AAE) has said the state could earn about $1 billion from oil and gas leasing on the Roan Plateau.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The Colorado Department of Education released its annual student counts for school districts across the state Thursday, showing that Garfield County school districts witnessed growth between 2 and 10 percent over last year.Garfield School District 16 had the largest percentage increase, about 10 percent, with 133 new students in the district this year. Garfield School District Re-2 witnessed a 3 percent increase, with 133 new students as well, while Roaring Fork School District had a 2 percent gain with a gain of 109 students.This year, the state’s student population overall surpassed 800,000 students for the first time in the state’s history.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The Glenwood Springs Tourism Board is planning a marketing research study to determine how to best attract visitors and show them a good time.According to a news release, the first phase of the study evaluates the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to tourism within the resort community.”This is a good process for analysis of ideas and opinions, and works amazingly well for strategic planning,” said Kate Collins, according to the release.

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