91.5 KRCC Newsroom

Colorado Springs, Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico regional news from the award-winning 91.5 KRCC Newsroom.

Also, great stories from our producers, partners and people in our region. 

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Elyse Cosgrove / Protect Our Winters

The ski industry is an important economic driver in our region, but it's facing a lot of changes. Climate change, for one, is transforming ski resort leaders into activists and lobbyists.

David Benbennick / Creative Commons 3.0

The Mountain West region has the first airport in the country to pilot a new kind of security screening machine. The most obvious feature of Denver International’s new body scanner is that it allows travelers to keep their arms down at their sides while being scanned. 

A Republican state lawmaker accused of sexual harassment last session is resigning. Sen. Randy Baumgardner, who represents Northwest Colorado, is stepping down in late January.

His resignation comes after a top Democrat at the capitol suggested he might try to force Baumgardner out during the upcoming session if he didn’t leave on his own.

Out of the dozens of lawmakers who hold leadership positions at the State Capitol, only five live on the Western Slope. State Rep. Dylan Roberts is one of them. The Democrat from Avon will lead the state's new Rural Affairs Committee. He says the rising cost of health insurance will be at the top of his agenda when the session starts next month.

Since 1964 the Land and Water Conservation Fund has used royalties from oil and gas leasing to protect natural areas, water resources and cultural heritage, as well as to provide recreation opportunities. The Fund expired at the end of September, but both the House and Senate have proposed bills to permanently reauthorize it so its future doesn't remain in jeopardy.

Greg L. Wright / CC BY-SA 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], from Wikimedia Commons

There’s some apparent good news for backcountry adventurers in the West this winter: the number of avalanche deaths is declining.

On stage in a conference room at Las Vegas's Caesars Palace, Keith Moses said coming to terms with the limits of the Colorado River is like losing a loved one.

"It reminds me of the seven stages of grief," Moses said. "Because I think we've been in denial for a long time."

Moses is vice chairman of the Colorado River Indian Tribes, a group of four tribes near Parker, Arizona. He was speaking at the annual Colorado River Water Users Association meeting.

Jake Brownell / 91.5 KRCC

Some residents of Security, Widefield, and Fountain have elevated levels of potentially toxic chemicals in their blood, according to new research by the Colorado School of Public Health and the Colorado School of Mines. The chemicals, from a family of compounds known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), are believed to have leached into the Widefield aquifer from firefighting foams once used at Peterson Air Force Base. The aquifer has long been an important source of drinking water for southern El Paso County.

LAS VEGAS -- Water leaders throughout the West now have a hard deadline to finish deals that would keep the Colorado River’s biggest reservoirs from dropping to deadpool levels.

The nation’s top water official is giving leaders of the seven states that rely on the Colorado River until January 31, 2019 to finalize a Drought Contingency Plan. The combination of multi-state agreements would change how reservoirs are operated and force earlier water cutbacks within the river’s lower basin states of Arizona, California and Nevada as reservoirs drop.

David Shankbone

A Colorado District Judge has ruled it is unconstitutional to detain inmates purely on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Similar cases have been argued throughout our region.

Ed Suominen / FLICKR All creative Commons

Colorado is launching a new nonprofit, called The Colorado Clean Energy Fund, to help finance clean energy projects in the state.

Tony Webster / Flickr Creative Commons

Drivers of electric vehicles will soon have 33 additional sites to charge their vehicles in Colorado. The sites will be placed along six major transportation corridors.

Joseph Wilson

A new study says when the Trump administration shrank Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Utah late last year, it may have endangered scores of native bee species.

Gov.-elect Jared Polis is bringing a former political rival and members of his congressional staff into his new administration.

Cary Kennedy, who finished second behind Polis in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, will serve as a senior fiscal policy advisor for the new governor. Kennedy served as state treasurer from 2007 to 2011.

Democratic State Sen. Daniel Kagan announced Wednesday evening he is resigning from the legislature next month.

In a statement announcing his departure, the lawmaker from Cherry Hills Village didn't give a specific reason for stepping down. But Kagan found himself making headlines last year for using the wrong restroom at the Capitol.

Greg Goebel / Creative Commons 2.0

The EPA is expected to announce a rollback of regulations on coal-fired power plants. Meanwhile, two new reports could cast some doubt on that decision.

Bernie Sanders YouTube

Roughly a third of Americans said climate change played into their voting decisions in the last four years. Other than Colorado, voters in the Mountain West are even less interested in the issue. Bernie Sanders is trying to change that. He hosted an online town hall on the topic Monday night.

The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that measles cases around the world increased by 31 percent from 2016 to 2017.

While the U.S. saw an increase of almost 40 percent during that period, only two states in the Mountain West region reported measles cases. Colorado had one each year, and Utah had no cases in 2016 and three the following year.

Colorado River water managers have plenty to argue about. But there’s one thing on which nearly everyone who relies on the southwestern river can agree. The foundational document that divvies up the water -- the Colorado River Compact -- has some big flaws.

Discussion on how to fix the compact’s problems is where that consensus breaks down, often with the invocation of one word: renegotiation.

Creative Commons Zero - CC0

The outdoor recreation industry makes up an important part of the Mountain West economy and it’s feeling relieved right now after President Trump and President Xi of China have agreed to pause their escalating trade wars for now.  

Farmers know every year they’re going to encounter surprises from things out of their control, like drought or pests.

This year, great growing conditions led to a bin-busting soybean harvest, but a tit-for-tat exchange of tariffs with China meant that country went from being a major buyer to virtually ignoring U.S. soybeans.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that the U.S. life expectancy continues to decline. This trend is driven in part by an increase is drug overdoses and suicide. The Mountain West is especially vulnerable when it comes to suicide.

NORAD: https://www.dvidshub.net/feature/NORADTracksSanta

The Colorado Springs-based North American Aerospace Defense Command--or NORAD--has officially begun tracking Santa Claus for this holiday season.

Jake Brownell / 91.5 KRCC

A task force charged with evaluating Colorado’s juvenile justice system released its final report this month. It points to shortcomings in the system and puts forth a number of policy recommendations.

Abigail Beckman / 91.5 KRCC

Colorado Springs has had a record number of traffic fatalities this year. To date, 47 people have died in crashes on city roads: 12 pedestrians, 4 bicyclists, 23 in vehicles and 8 motorcyclists. The city's growing population could be a factor in the number of deaths, but officials say there is a human element in the crashes that cannot be ignored. 

The effects of climate change are not far off problems for future generations. They are existential problems for everyone alive today.

That’s one big takeaway from the U.S. federal government’s latest roundup of climate science, the National Climate Assessment, now in its fourth iteration.

You may have missed it, but on Black Friday the federal government released a second climate-related report. The United States Geologic Survey (USGS) found nearly one-quarter of carbon dioxide emissions come from fossil fuels extracted on public lands - that's the average from 2005 to 2014. Not to mention over 7 percent of methane and 1.5 percent of nitrous oxide, on average during that same time period.

The parents sat stiffly; some had clearly been crying. Their children, largely oblivious, scribbled with crayons on the carpeted floor of a Denver immigration court. In a matter of months, the judge before them will make 71 life-changing decisions.

Earlier this year, the Department of Justice instructed ten immigration courts around the country to speed up cases of families seeking asylum on U.S. soil. In Denver, that directive is being carried out in a series of group hearings, designed to decide cases in less than a year.

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