Welcome to Monday, Boulder.

Today, I cover Boulder’s new climate tax. With climate change holding the opportunity to balloon the gap between the affluent and others, Boulder has to be mindful that its spending combats this gap rather than exacerbating it.

“There is a strong connection between climate change and equity,” said Jonathan Koehn, Boulder’s Climate Initiatives Director. “Simply put, the effects of climate change are going to be worse for some people.”

Some of the ways the city is looking to spend returns from the new tax include helping residents access electric vehicles and home appliances, and mitigating risks of wildfire and flood in historically underserved areas.

“Our investments are now going to the most vulnerable first,” Koehn said. “Equity has to be at the core of all our efforts to reduce our climate impact.”

Saturday night marked yet another horrific mass shooting in Colorado, this one in an LGBTQ nightclub. The shooting appears to be a hate crime. We have a local view and reactions.

Meanwhile, some in mountain communities have long pushed for no-discharge zones for firearms. Last week, county commissioners approved several zones for community protection and wildfire reduction.

Thanks for reading.

— Tim, reporter

What to know today

Quite pleasant: Sunny today and tomorrow in the high 40s and low 50s. No precipitation for the foreseeable future.

Hate shooting in Colorado Springs: Just before midnight on Saturday, a shooter entered Club Q, an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs and began shooting. As of now, 5 people are dead and 25 injured. A source told the Colorado Sun that evidence is suggesting hate fueled the shooting.

  • At least one person in the club fought the gunmen, preventing many additional deaths. Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said “heroic people inside the club confronted and fought with the suspect and were able to stop the suspect from continuing to kill and harm others.”
  • Details of the suspect have an eerie similarity to many other shootings: a young male, armed with a semi-automatic rifle, with what appears to be previously documented violent tendencies.
  • Out Boulder County released a statement on the act. “Our hearts are broken for the lives that were lost, those they leave behind, and the entire LGBTQ community,” the organization said. “While we are no stranger to violence, each time this happens it sends devastating ripples throughout our entire community … We fear for our own safety and the safety of those we know and love.” The full statement can be read here.
  • Yesterday held a special significance for the LGBTQ community, as it was Transgender Day of Remembrance, which honors transgender community members killed by violence. The shooting is “extra impactful,” said Morgan Seamont, director of CU Boulder’s Pride Office. “We’re already in that mental space where we’re honoring those who have been lost to violence today … The main thing we’re trying to convey to folks is that we care about them and we love them.” Read the full story, by Henry Larson.

Restrictions on shooting in unincorporated Boulder County: In a hearing on Nov. 15, Boulder County Commissioners approved new areas where you can no longer shoot your guns. Commissioners made the call after receiving complaints from residents of the risk posed by those who chose to shoot in their mountain communities.

  • “The communities of Magnolia, Sugarloaf, and Raymond/Riverside have made clear through emails, written comments, and verbal testimony that creating closure areas for shooting is a public safety issue,” said Commissioner Marta Loachamin.
  • Risk of injury isn’t the only concern. Wildfires can start by a bullet striking a rock and throwing a spark onto waiting grass. “The situation in the mountains is very bad,” said Commissioner Matt Jones. “Someone is going to be wounded or killed, and have additional wildfire starts.”
  •  The county commissioners have authority to set such no-shoot areas, so long as they can prove there’s an average population density of more than 100 people per square mile. County staff were able to prove that each of the new proposed areas met this requirement.

Public welcomed to comment on air quality: The Front Range’s air quality is nothing to applaud. In September, it was classified as “severe” by the Environmental Protection Agency for its high levels of ground-level ozone. To right this status, Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) is looking to regulate. But even before the hearing in December, Boulder County wants regulations to be more aggressive than the commission is proposing. In line with BRL’s main story today, the county acknowledges that the “AQCC must create a plan of action that does a better job of protecting the health of all Coloradans, especially communities of color and low-income communities, who are disproportionately hurt by the health impacts of air pollution.”

  • Ground level ozone, unlike that sitting high in the atmosphere, is harmful to health, exacerbating conditions like asthma. The most common causes are oil and gas production, and the burning of that oil and gas. Read our previous coverage.
  • “The air we breathe affects each and every one of us and the time for strong action is now,” said Commissioner Matt Jones.

Small grants available for research and biological inventories: With a deadline on Jan. 9, Boulder County is accepting applications for grants of up to $10,000 for work on open space lands.

  • “These research projects and inventories provide valuable data to monitor management practices, advance our ability to adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change, and improve resources and park visitor experiences.”

CU expanding its emergency notification area: Previously, CU was only required to send out emergency alerts for life-threatening events that happened on, or very near, campus. But after several incidents, including a shooting on University Hill in October, campus affiliates requested to be alerted of happenings that involved CU but might not fall within the previously established boundaries. Now, in a new pilot program, alerts will be sent out should something happen in newly incorporated neighborhoods.

  • New areas for alerts include the University Hill, the Goss Grove neighborhood, the Lower Chautauqua neighborhood and the residential area north of Williams Village.  

NoBo Library closed yesterday and today: Staffing shortages are to blame.

Thanksgiving closures: Many city facilities will be closed over the holiday, with some extending their closures through Friday. Per the city’s website, those closed on Thursday, Nov. 24 are:

  • All city administrative offices.
  • All city recreation facilities.
  • All Boulder Public Library locations.
  • All Age Well Centers.

And the following are also closed Friday, Nov. 25:

  • All city administrative offices.
  • North Boulder Recreation Center.
  • South Boulder Recreation Center.

Augmented reality downtown: Starting yesterday and running through Jan. 31, downtown Boulder can be viewed through a series of Instagram filters promoting the winter season. Penguins, not normally seen in our town, will be available to meet, as will gingerbread folk, who have similarly not been seen in Boulder for several years. Signs along Pearl Street with QR codes will direct the self-guided tour. The city’s website has all the locations listed.

County open house on new sales taxes: On Tuesday, Nov. 29, the county is holding an open house on the recently passed Boulder County sales taxes that will fund fire mitigation and emergency services — ballot measures 1A and 1B. The open forum will allow the public to tell county staff what programs they think are most important when the time comes to decide what to fund.

Go deeper

Boulderites approve new climate tax. City of Boulder pledges resiliency money is ‘now going to the most vulnerable first.’

By Tim Drugan

Boulder voters overwhelmingly approved a new city climate tax on Nov. 8. With projected annual earnings of $6.5 million, the city will have significantly more than the $3.9 million currently available for climate resiliency efforts. The extra money will be spent on a swath of different projects, from forest thinning to EV charging stations, but all will be implemented with equity in mind.

“There is a strong connection between climate change and equity,” said Jonathan Koehn, Boulder’s Climate Initiatives Director. “Simply put, the effects of climate change are going to be worse for some people.”

Unless significant action is taken, climate change will balloon the gap between the wealthy and the underserved. Disaster in our area has already offered a hint of what an untempered future might bring.

Continue reading…

‘Anger, then sadness’: Boulder community members grieve, offer support in wake of Colorado Springs LGBTQ club shooting

By Henry Larson

Many across Boulder County and elsewhere in the state didn’t hear news of the tragedy until they woke up the following morning.

“This is incredibly sad news to wake to,” said Mardi Moore, the executive director of Out Boulder County, an LGBTQ rights group in Boulder. “To know that five members of the LGBTQ community were murdered in Colorado Springs last night, at a place that our community calls home … and for that space to be a place of death, shakes us.”

Continue reading…

Through Dec. 31, NewsMatch will match your donation to BRL up to $1,000. This means your gift can fund twice as much vital journalism for Boulder County and help us continue to build a great local newsroom. Give today to double your impact!

BRL picks

🌍 Right Here, Right Now climate summit: Partnering with the United Nations Human Rights, CU is hosting the Right Here, Right Now Global Climate Summit this December. Three days, from Dec. 2-4, the summit will address the interconnectedness of human rights and climate change. If you go, you’ll also find some of us at BRL there, since we’re among several partners.

🐿️ Pikas and prairies: What is the connection between the pikas and climate change? In an exhibit at the Museum of Boulder that runs through Jan. 8, field photography and video delve into the rodent’s life. “Their survival may depend on our ability to protect a place hundreds of miles from their alpine home — the Great Plains.”

⚽️ World Cup watch parties: Starting today, watch every 12 p.m. game at Avanti. Colorado Rapids gear will be available along with drinks for every USA score. Today the U.S. plays Wales at 12 p.m. The next U.S. game is Friday, Nov. 25 when they play England.

Covid in Boulder County: Nov. 21, 2022

  • 87 daily new cases (7-day avg.) ⬆️ Up 40% over preceding 7-day avg.
  • 19 patients hospitalized with Covid (7-day avg.) ⬇️ Down from a high of 29 last week.
  • 69% percent of ICU is occupied. ⬆️ Up from avg. of 64% since July 2020.

What else we’re reading

Colorado’s air regulators didn’t realize just how much ground-level ozone oil and gas operators were producing due to a data error. The regulators are now rewriting their ozone plan for the area to take the correct levels into account, the end goal of which is to bring the Front Range’s levels back into a healthy range.

  • “They’re not trying to cover up their mistakes, but actually owning them and acknowledging some hard decisions need to be made,” said Jeremy Nichols, the climate program director for WildEarth Guardians, an environmental advocacy group. “Chronically high ozone levels put the public at risk, so it really is time we get this situation figured out.”


Tim Drugan is the climate and environment reporter for Boulder Reporting Lab, covering wildfires, water and other climate-related issues for Boulder with a focus on explanatory and solutions journalism. He also is the lead writer of BRL Today, our morning newsletter. Tim grew up in New Hampshire and graduated from UNH with a degree in English/Journalism. Email: tim@boulderreportinglab.org.