NEWS, APRIL 19TH

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) – Mesa County commissioners in
Colorado are urging federal officials to extend a comment period on
a plan for oil shale development on public land.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has proposed slashing the
amount of land potentially available for oil shale development in
Utah, Wyoming and Colorado from a total of about 2 million acres to
462,000 acres. The deadline for public comments on the proposal is
May 4. Mesa County commissioners unanimously
approved a resolution Monday blasting the proposal. The resolution
also alleges the bureau is irrationally capitulating to
environmental groups while ignoring local governments and other
stakeholders, who support research to find economically viable ways
to harvest oil from oil shale. Garfield and Rio Blanco counties in Colorado have approved similar resolutions.

LOCAL DRILLING RULES
Drilling compromise in CO leaves zoning unsettled
DENVER (AP) – A dispute between Colorado communities and the oil
and gas industry over who has the ability to zone drilling
operations remains unsettled despite a task force convened to
settle the matter. In a letter to state lawmakers Wednesday, the task force said in was “neither realistic nor productive” to settle that question.
Instead, the task force recommended that energy regulators do a
better job keeping local governments in the loop on drilling
decisions. The task force of energy companies, local governments and
environmental activists was set up about a month and a half ago.
Advances in drilling technology have led to energy exploration
in populous communities where many residents want local zoning
control. The oil and gas industry has argued against local zoning.

COLORADO BUDGET
CO budget appears headed for broad support
DENVER (AP) – The unusually jovial tone of Colorado’s state
budget debate is continuing in the Senate, where lawmakers are
closer to signing off on the $7.4 billion spending plan.
Democrats and Republicans have largely agreed Wednesday on the
part of the state budget that lawmakers can control. The general
fund cleared the House last week with only one member voting no.
The budget for the fiscal year starting in July is now awaiting
final passage in the Senate. Senators made small changes to it
Wednesday, but the overall spending plan is largely intact.
One more vote in the Senate is required.
Lawmakers say an improving economy has boosted tax receipts and
allowed the state checkbook to cover more expenses, especially in
education and tax relief for seniors.

POSTAL PROBLEMS-UDALL
Udall backs delaying closure of rural post offices
DENVER (AP) – Colorado Sen. Mark Udall is backing an effort to
prevent closing rural post offices for at least two years.
Udall joined other senators on Wednesday in backing the
amendment to a bill that would stabilize the U.S. Postal Service.
The Postal Service says it needs to begin closing thousands of
low-revenue post offices and mail processing centers this year as
part of efforts to become profitable.
The Senate bill would, in part, slow if not stop many closings
by forcing the agency to first consider the special needs of rural
communities. Seventy-one post offices in Colorado and 43 in Wyoming face
possible closures. Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado and Roy Blunt of Missouri have proposed appointing an advocate for rural communities facing
closures so that communities’ interests are heard.

DENVER (AP) – Metropolitan State College of Denver is getting a
new name. Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill Wednesday authorizing the
school to change its name to Metropolitan State University of
Denver, effective July 1. Metro State had wanted to change its name to eliminate any misperceptions that it is a community college.

COLORADO SPACE INDUSTRY
Hickenlooper signing spaceflight bill
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) – Gov. John Hickenlooper is signing
a bill meant to encourage commercial space launches from Colorado
by limiting the liability of companies that take passengers aboard
spaceships. Hickenlooper is scheduled to sign the bill Thursday at the
National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.
Colorado is asking the Federal Aviation Administration to grant
a spaceport designation to Front Range Airport, a small facility
six miles from Denver International Airport.
The bill is designed to remove one potential obstacle that could
discourage commercial spaceflight companies from starting
operations in the state.

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